“My philosophy is very simple. To feel young, you must work as long as you can.”
Today is a sad day for film fans everywhere. Dino De Laurentiis, the legendary Italian movie producer who brought the world a wildly diverse and unique library of cinema and was considered to be one of cinema’s most daring and controversial figures in his six decades in the film industry, died Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10PM at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 91 years old. No cause of death has been given at the present time.
Although De Laurentiis had not produced a feature since 2007, the legendary Italian movie producer who brought the world a wildly diverse and unique library of cinema of over 160 films, credited and not, and was considered to be one of cinema’s most daring and controversial figures in his six decades in the industry.
At the age of 17 De Laurentiis left home to enroll in film school and supported himself for the next three years with a series of industry jobs until he earned his first producer credit at the age of twenty. He then left the movie business to serve in the Italian army during World War II but soon returned to film production after his service was up. From 1941 until the mid-1950’s he produced films in his native Italy with varying degrees of success, but in the wake of the war and the fall of dictator Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime the producer was widely credited with helping to restore the country’s film industry.
Forming a partnership with fellow producer Carlo Ponti De Laurentiis opened the country up to foreign film production and made elaborate features with American film stars such as Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, and Anthony Quinn and assisted in establishing Italy as a major player on the world film stage. He also produced Federico Fellini’s Oscar-winning 1950’s films La Strada (1954) and Nights of Cabiria (1957). Throughout the next two decades De Laurentiis launched a variety of prestigious and often expensive films and in 1962 built his own movie studio, named Dinocitta (or “Dino City”) perhaps as a rebuke to Italy’s own renowned studio Cinecitta, established in 1937. Dinocitta was forced to clown amidst hard times in the Italian film industry and the financial failure of several of De Laurentiis’ own productions.
In the 1970s De Laurentiis moved to the United States and took up a base of operations in Wilmington, North Carolina where he built a new studio. DEG Studios, which also ultimately met its end at the hand of severe financial distress. Over the years he has worked with and nurtured the careers with some of the finest filmmakers in the world: John Huston, Mario Bava, Ingmar Bergman, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Robert Altman, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Michael Cimino, and Sam Raimi. He is survived by his wife Martha, his five daughters (Carolyna, Dina, Veronica, Raffaella, and Francesca), and four grandchildren (Dino, Giada, Eloisa, and Igor), many of whom would follow De Laurentiis to serve in various careers of the entertainment industry.
Among his many honors De Laurentiis was presented with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at the 2001 Academy Awards, and in 1980 the film critic brothers Medved, Harry and Michael, dubbed him “Dino Di Horrendous” in their book The Golden Turkey Awards.
Among the more notable films he produced in his storied career were: Ulysses, An American in Rome, War and Peace, Barabbas, The Bible, Danger: Diabolik, Barbarella, Anzio, The Valachi Papers, Chino, Serpico, Death Wish, Mandingo, King Kong (the 1976 remake), Orca, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, The Serpent’s Egg, Flash Gordon, Ragtime, Conan the Barbarian, The Dead Zone, The Bounty, Dune, Year of the Dragon, Manhunter, Maximum Overdrive, Breakdown, U-571, and Hannibal.
One of the films De Laurentiis helped to produce was Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II, which is my favorite film of all time. Here’s an interesting fact about that movie: De Laurentiis originally wanted Evil Dead II to be shot at his Wilmington studio, but Raimi and his company decided to shoot at a location several hundred miles away only because they wanted to minimize the producer’s potentially irritating set visits. Later when the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an X rating De Laurentiis, realizing he couldn’t release a movie with that rating under his DEG production banner, set up a company called Rosebud Releasing strictly for the purpose of distributing Evil Dead II to theaters. De Laurentiis would later produce the third Evil Dead film, Army of Darkness.
Grazie per tutto Dino ed il resto nella pace.
Dino De Laurentiis
August 8, 1919 – November 10, 2010
[Source: Yahoo News]