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Mario Monicelli Biography

  • Profession: Director, Screenwriter
  • Born: May 15, 1915
  • Died: Nov 29, 2010

A history and philosophy student at the Universities of Pisa and Milan, Mario Monicelli first yelled "Roll 'em" (in Italian, of course) when he co-directed a 16-millimeter short subject called [[Feature~V141568~I ragazzi dela via Paal~iragazzidiviapanisperna]] (1935), inspired by [[Performer~P218045~Ferenc Molnar~ferencmolnar]]'s [[Feature~V85828~The Boys of Paul Street~apalutcaifiuk]]. The film won a Venice Festival prize, whereupon Monicelli embarked on a lengthy apprenticeship as assistant to several of Europe's top directors: [[Performer~P100637~Gustav Machaty~gustavmachaty]], [[Performer~P91340~Pietro Germi~pietrogermi]], and a host of others. A scriptwriter from 1944, Monicelli formed a partnership with comedy scrivener Stefano Vanzina, who billed himself as "[[Performer~P112669~Steno~steno]]." The team directed its first feature, [[Feature~V125415~Al diavolo la Celebrita~aldiavololacelebrita]], in 1949. Monicelli's first solo effort was [[Feature~V148126~Proibito~proibito]] (1954), which like many of his best films dealt with everyday folks who are mired down by their unwillingness to take risks and/or their inability to rise above their simple-minded attitudes. One of his biggest hits was [[Feature~V5408~Big Deal on Madonna Street~bigdealonmadonnastreet]] (1958), a tale of a "perfect crime" gone awry due to the indecision, ignorance, and ineptitude of its participants. Even when Monicelli's characters are firm in their convictions, they are prone to failure: An excellent example of this is his 1963 drama [[Feature~V105083~I compagni~icompagni]] ([[Feature~V10775~The Conformist~theconformist]]), a case history of a labor strike which, like Monicelli's earlier [[Feature~V20802~La Grand Guerra~lagrandeguerra]] (The Great War, 1959) won Venice's Golden Lion Award. Mario Monicelli has also won the Berlin Festival Best Director prizes for 1957's Fathers and Sons, 1976's [[Feature~V145817~Caro Michele~caromichele]], and 1982's [[Feature~V137107~Il Marchise del Grillo~delrosaalamarillo]]. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi