Italian writer-director Monicelli dies

Comedy pioneer falls from hospital window

Oscar-nommed Italo scribe-helmer Mario Monicelli died Nov. 29 after falling from his fifth-story hospital window in Rome. The 95-year-old had been admitted with pancreatic problems, according to the Associated Press.

Monicelli with Age, Furio Scarpelli, Tonino Guerra, Giorgio Salvoni and Suso Cecchi d’Amico, was nominated for original screenplay for 1964’s “The Organizer” and 1965’s “Casanova ’70.”

A trio of films that he wrote the screenplay for were also nominated for Oscar’s foreign-language film category — 1958’s “The Usual Unidentified Thieves” (Big Deal on Madonna Street), 1959’s “The Great War” and 1968’s “The Girl With a Pistol.”

Between 1939-40 he wrote more than 40 screenplays. He made his directorial debut in 1935 with silent “The Boys of Via Paal.” Monicelli worked with some of the biggest names of the commedia all’Italiana, including Marcello Mastroianni, Toto and Alberto Sordi, drawing upon his carefree youth for some of his films including “Amici Mei.”

His style of filmmaking mixed humor, irony and bitterness. The protags of his films were frequently smitten with grand ideas that failed (but always in humorous wasy), but the fellowship of friends endures.

A fest fave, Monicelli received the Golden Lion for “The Great War” and a career achievement award in 1991. At the time he said, “Cinema will never die, it was born and cannot die. The cinema hall will die perhaps, but I definitely don’t care of this.”

At Berlin he won a trio of directing Bears for 1957’s “A Tailor’s Maid,” 1976’s “Caro Michele” and 1981’s “Il marchese del grillo.” He also received a special mention in 1994 for “Cari fottutisimi amici.”

Monicelli is credited with starting off the careers of Monica Vitti, Anna Magnani, Vittorio de Sica and Sophia Loren among others.

“He was my Fellini,” fellow Tuscan director Giovanni Veronese told Sky TG24. “It’s a terrible day.”

His last film was 2006’s “The Roses of the Desert.”

Survivors include three daughters.

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