Mario Monicelli, Italian cinema giant, free at last

One of the greatest artists of the last and current centuries, Italian film director Mario Monicelli, father of the commedia all’italiana, took his own life last night. He was 95 and terminally ill.

Please read this obituary in The New York Times, where Michael Roston quotes the director:

    “All Italian comedy is dramatic,” he said in a 2004 interview with Cineaste magazine “The situation is always dramatic, often tragic, but it’s treated in a humorous way. But people die in it, there’s no happy ending. That’s just what people like about it. The Italian comedy, the kind I make, always has this component.”

Please also see this obituary in the ANSA feed, where actor Stefania Sandrelli interprets his suicide.

I studied and loved his films in graduate school and have quoted them often here on the blog. The scene below (with Totò, Marcello Mastroianni, and Vittorio Gassman) is my favorite from I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958).

My favorite gag is when Mastroianni asks Totò if the famous safe-cracker Fu Cimin was Chinese. No, says, Totò, he was from Venice. “Cimin” was his last name. “Fu” means he died, he says.

6 Responses to Mario Monicelli, Italian cinema giant, free at last

  1. tom hyland says:

    Nice of you to remember him. He made some lovely films.

  2. Valerie says:

    Beautiful tribute, Jeremy. Have become a huge fan of Cinema Italiano in the last year during my studies. You can’t not smile watching this clip – and give a silent nod to Mario and the others whose spirit and sometimes life stories are just as important to the film culture itself.

  3. Fred Man says:

    Before leaving for a better place, he wrote “solo gli stronzi muoiono!”. Jeremy… the translation is up to you.
    He will be missed extremely.
    Ciao Mario!

  4. moviegeek says:

    Nice tribute for a great man. My tribute is here on my blog
    http://wp.me/p19wJ2-6n

  5. Do Bianchi says:

    @Fred Man here’s the translation: “only turds [assholes] die!”

    Here’s to Monicelli! hard to imagine the world without him…

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