Leo Pescarolo, the Italian producer known for shepherding quality pics of different genres and also for his gourmet cuisine, died Wednesday in Rabat, Morocco, of respiratory failure due to asthma. He was 70.
Born in Genoa, Pescarolo came from a wealthy showbiz family, the son of silent-era star Vera Vergani.
During his twenties he worked as an assistant to several directors, including Mario Camerini, before tackling his first project as a producer, Liliana Cavani’s controversial “Galileo” in 1969.
He followed up with a string of more than 30 titles including Marco Bellocchio’s “Devil in the Flesh,” Giuliano Montaldo’s Nicolas Cage-starrer “Time To Kill,” and Francesco Rosi’s “The Truce,” based on Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi’s memoir. Starring John Turturro, “The Truce” was perhaps Pescarolo’s most ambitious project and the one that brought him to the brink of bankruptcy.
Pescarolo also financed Federico Fellini’s “Prova d’orchestra” and once boasted of being the only Italo producer with a Fellini film to his credit, and also a soft porn flick and several horror pics.
“He was the last of the generation of old-fashioned producers who really put their asses on the line to get a movie made,” said distributor Valerio De Paolis on the Croisette.
Besides his passion as a producer, Pescarolo also became known as a high-level gourmet. He wrote a cooking column in La Repubblica newspaper for many years.
Embittered by the crisis gripping Italian cinema, Pescarolo retired to Morocco a few years ago.