Sunday, March 8, 2009

Marcello Mastroianni

Born in Fontana Liri, a small village in the Apennines, Mastroianni grew up in Turin and Rome. During World War II, he was interned in a Nazi prison, but he escaped and hid in Venice. Mastroianni was married to Italian actress Flora Carabella (1948 - 1999) from 1948 until his death. They had one child together, Barbara. His brother Ruggero Mastroianni (1929 - 1996) was a highly regarded film editor who not only edited a number of his brother's films, but appeared alongside Marcello in Scipione detto anche l'Africano, a sword and sandals film released in 1971.
Mastroianni had a daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, with the actress Catherine Deneuve, his longtime lover during the seventies. Both Flora and Catherine were at his bedside when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, as was his partner at the time, author and filmmaker Anna Maria Tatò. According to Christopher Wiegand and Paul Duncan in their book Federico Fellini, when Mastroianni died in 1996, the Trevi Fountain, which is so famously associated with him due to his role in Fellini's La dolce vita, was symbolically turned off and draped in black as a tribute. He is buried in the Cimitero Monumentale del Verano in Rome, Italy.

In 1945 he started working for the Italian department of "Eagle Lion Films" in Rome and joined a drama club, where he was discovered by director Luchino Visconti. He made his "official" movie debut in the film Miserabili, I (1948) and Bella mugnaia, La (1955). In 1957 Visconti gave him the starring part in his Fyodor Dostoyevsky adaptation Notti bianche, Le (1957) and in 1958 he was fine as a little thief in Mario Monicelli's comedy Soliti ignoti, I (1958). But his real breakthrough came in 1960, when Federico Fellini cast him as an attractive, weary-eyed journalist of the Rome jet-set in Dolce vita, La (1960); that film was the genesis of his "Latin lover" persona, which Mastroianni himself often denied by accepting parts of passive and sensitive men. He would again work with Fellini in several major films, like the exquisite (1963) (as a movie director who finds himself at a point of crisis) and the touching Ginger e Fred (1986) (as an old entertainer who appears in a TV show). He also appeared as a tired novelist with marital problems in Michelangelo Antonioni's Notte, La (1961), as an impotent young man in Mauro Bolognini's Bell'Antonio, Il (1960) , as an exiled prince in John Boorman's Leo the Last (1970), as a traitor in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's Allonsanfan (1973) and as a sensitive homosexual in love with a housewife in Ettore Scola's Giornata particolare, Una (1977). During the last decade of his life he worked with directors, like Theodoros Angelopoulos, Bertrand Blier and Raoul Ruiz, who gave him three excellent parts in Trois vies & une seule mort (1996).

His three Oscar nominations for Divorzio all'italiana (1961), Giornata particolare, Una (1977), and Oci ciornie (1987) are the record for a performer in a foreign language film. The only other performers with multiple Oscar nominations for foreign language films are Sophia Loren, Liv Ullmann and Isabelle Adjani with two each.

"They come for you in the morning in a limousine; they take you to the studio; they stick a pretty girl in your arms... They call that a profession? Come on!" -Marcello Mastroianni


Menehune said...

Maybe it was better you didn't know how famous he was? Wonder why he was there?

barb cabot said...

Menehune, I was wondering that too. The bldg. we were in is right next to the Theater Arts bldg. Maybe he was part of a program that was going on there, killing time or who knows what. Guess I'll never know.

candi said...

Barb, such a neat story to share.

Sandrac said...

That is so cool, Barb -- I love his work. Divorce, Italian Style was so funny (as he tried to appear sinister) and I thought he was great with Sophia Loren in A Special Day (Una giornata particolare.)

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