Italian Director Mario Monicelli Dies at 95

November 30, 2010

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Mario Monicelli, the Italian filmmaker best known for Big Deal on Madonna Street and La Grande Guerra, has died in an apparent suicide, the latest victim of this post-Thanksgiving plague. Monicelli was being treated for pancreatic cancer in Rome's San Giovanni hospital, and, with his condition said to be terminal, the director reportedly jumped out his room's window to his death. He was 95.

From the New York Times obit:

Mr. Monicelli was a contemporary of the noted Italian filmmakers Federico Fellini and Ettore Scola and worked closely with some of the nation’s greatest actors, including Marcello Mastroianni, Toto and Alberto Sordi. His career spanned more than 60 years in which he wrote and directed dozens of films, documentaries, shorts and TV series, including 2006’s “The Roses of the Desert.” He was most well-known for the comedies “Big Deal on Madonna Street” (1958) a crime caper where inept criminals bungle their robbery of a pawn shop, and “La Grande Guerra” (1959) which won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award for its comedic take on the tragedies of World War I. In 1991, the Venice Film Festival honored him with a lifetime achievement award.

“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.”

In a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair, Monicelli said, "Death doesn't frighten me, it bothers me. It bothers me for example that someone can be there tomorrow and but me I am no longer there. What bothers me is not longer being alive, not being dead." And now that he mentioned it, that's going to bother me, now. Thanks a lot, guy.

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