23 December 2017

Dino Risi – film director

Film comedy director helped launch career of Sophia Loren

Dino Risi won a number of top awards for his work in Italian cinema
Dino Risi won a number of top awards
for his work in Italian cinema
The director Dino Risi, who was regarded as one of the masters of Italian film comedy, was born on this day in 1916 in Milan.

He had a string of hits in the 1950s and 1960s and gave future stars Sophia Loren, Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman opportunities early in their careers.

Risi’s older brother, Fernando, was a cinematographer and his younger brother, Nelo, was a director and writer.

He started his career as an assistant to Mario Soldati and Alberto Lattuada and then began directing his own films.

One of Risi’s early successes was the 1951 comedy, Vacation with a Gangster, in which he cast the 12-year-old actor Mario Girotti, who later became well known under the name Terence Hill.

His 1966 film, Treasure of San Gennaro was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a silver prize.

Among his best-known films are Pane, amore e… in 1955, Poveri ma belli in 1956, Una vita difficile in 1961 and Profumo di donna in 1974.

Agostina Belli and Vittorio Gassman in a scene from Dino Risi's Profumo di donna
Agostina Belli and Vittorio Gassman in a scene from
Dino Risi's Profumo di donna
He was awarded the David di Donatello award for best film director in 1975 for Profumo di donna.  The actor Al Pacino would win an Oscar for a remake of the movie as Scent of a Woman in 1992.

In 2002 Risi was awarded the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for his lifetime’s work.

Two of his films, Il giovedi and Il commissario Lo Gatto, were shown in a retrospective section on Italian comedy at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.

Risi died at the age of 91 in 2008 at his home in Rome, where he had lived for 30 years in an apartment in the Aldrovandi Residence in the Parioli district. He was survived by his two children, Claudio, and Marco, who is a film director.

Teatro alla Scala is Milan's famous opera house
Teatro alla Scala is Milan's famous opera house
Travel tip:

Milan, Risi’s town of birth, is the capoluogo – the most important city – of Lombardia. As well as being an important financial centre, Milan is a mecca for fashion shoppers and a magnet for opera lovers. Visit Piazza Duomo in the centre of the city where you are bound to be impressed with the Duomo, which is the third largest cathedral in the world. Walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele where there are elegant bars and restaurants and designer shops. At the other end, Piazza Scala is home to the world famous opera house, Teatro alla Scala, where there is a fascinating museum with original costumes and scores and some items that belonged to the composer Giuseppe Verdi. You can walk along the Via Manzoni to see the Grand Hotel et de Milan where Verdi died in 1901. From there turn into Via Montenapoleone where the top Italian and international fashion designers have shops.

Venice Lido has hosted the Venice Film Festival since 1932
Venice Lido has hosted the Venice Film Festival since 1932
Travel tip:

The Venice Film Festival, where Risi was honoured, was first held in 1932 and took place between 6 and 21 August on the terrace of the Hotel Excelsior at the Venice Lido. The festival was considered a success and was held again in 1934 from August 1-20, when it involved a competition for the first time. In 1935 the Film Festival became a yearly event in Venice and the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup), an award for actors, was introduced for the first time. The Venice Lido is an eight-mile long sand bank that forms a natural barrier between Venice and the open sea and has become a seaside resort for the city. It is the only island in the lagoon with roads and can be reached from the mainland by car ferry. The Lido is served by regular vaporetti – water buses – from Venice and has plenty of hotels. It became a fashionable holiday destination at the beginning of the 20th century for royalty, writers and film stars. The atmosphere at the time was brilliantly captured by Thomas Mann’s book Death in Venice, published in 1912, which was made into a film in 1971 directed by Luchino Visconti.

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