13 September 2015

Franco Interlenghi RIP (1931-2015)

On 10 September, Italian actor Franco Interlenghi (1930-2015) has passed away. He was a popular leading man during the 1950s and worked with major directors like De Sica, Fellini, Antonioni, Bolognini and Rossellini. Although Interlenghi never gained international stardom, he was just as revered in his country as Marcello Mastroianni. Interlenghi was 83.

Franco Interlenghi (1930-2015)
Italian autograph card. Signed in 1958.

Franco Interlenghi
French postcard. Photo: Sam Lévin.


Franco Interlenghi was born in Rome, Italy in 1931 (some sources say 1930).

At 15 years old, he made his film debut in a classic of the Italian neorealist cinema, Sciuscià/Shoeshine (Vittorio De Sica, 1946). De Sica used nonprofessional actors, and he painted an uncompromising picture of the lives of Italian street children abandoned by their parents at the end of World War II. The film concentrates on two such children, Giuseppe (Rinaldo Smerdoni) and Pasquale (Franco Interlenghi). With no one else to turn to, the boys form a solid friendship, as well as a ‘corporation’ of sorts: they eke out a living shining the boots of American GI’s.

At AllMovie, Hal Erickson calls Sciuscia 'a must-see example of Italian neorealist cinema': "A failure in Italy (director Vittorio De Sica noted that postwar Italian audiences preferred the glossy escapism emanating from Hollywood), Shoeshine was a huge success worldwide, as well as the winner of a special Academy Award. Like Bicycle Thieves, it combines De Sica's frequent focus on children with his emphasis on post-war social problems."

In the following years, young Franco appeared in more successful films like the historical epic Fabiola (Alessandro Blasetti, 1949) starring Michèle Morgan, the neorealist comedy Domenica d'agosto/A Sunday in August (Luciano Emmer, 1950), the comedy classic Don Camillo/The Little World of Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier, 1952) featuring Fernandel, the murder drama Processo alla città/The City Stands Trial (Luigi Zampa, 1952), and the Homer adaptation Ulisse/Ulysses (Mario Camerini, 1954) starring Kirk Douglas and Silvana Mangano.

Franco Interlenghi
Italian postcard by Casa Edite. Ballerini & Fratini, Firenze, no. 3155. Photo: Dear Film.

Franco Interlenghi (1930-2015)
Italian postcard by Turismofoto.


Franco Interlenghi is probably best remembered for his leading role in Federico Fellini’s beautiful I Vitelloni/Spivs (1953). I Vitelloni follows the lives of five young vitelloni, or layabouts, who while away their listless days in their small seaside village. While the film seems to pay little attention to Moraldo (Interlenghi), he eventually emerges as its key character, plainly serving as Fellini's alter ego.

Franco Interlenghi worked that same year with another maestro, Michelangelo Antonioni, at I Vinti/The Vanquished (1953), a triptych film featuring three murders in London, Paris and Rome.

Interlenghi appeared in supporting parts in several Hollywood productions filmed on location in Italy, like Teresa (Fred Zinnemann, 1951) with Pier Angeli, The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1954) starring Ava Gardner and Humphrey Bogart, and A Farewell to Arms (Charles Vidor, who replaced John Huston, 1957) with Rock Hudson.

In France, he starred opposite Brigitte Bardot and Jean Gabin in En Cas de malheur/Love is My Profession (Claude Autant-Lara, 1958).

Among his well known Italian films of the 1950s were also Gli Innamorati/Wild Love (Mauro Bolognini, 1955) with his wife Antonella Lualdi, the comedy Totò, Peppino e i... fuorilegge/Totò, Peppino and the Outlaw (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1956) starring comedians Totò and Peppino de Filippo, the comedy Padri e figli/Like Father, Like Son (Mario Monicelli, 1957), the war drama Il generale della Rovere/General della Rovere (Roberto Rossellini, 1959) featuring Vittorio De Sica, and the crime drama La notte brava/Bad Girls Don’t Cry (Mauro Bolognini, 1959), again opposite Antonella Lualdi.

Franco Interlenghi and Antonella Lualdi
With Antonella Lualdi. Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1234. Photo: Italy's News Photos.

Franco Interlenghi
German minicard by Ufa-Film-Foto. Photo: Unitalia-Film.


Although Franco Interlenghi would never gain international stardom, he was a popular film actor in his home country. In addition to films, he also appeared in successful theatrical productions. He worked with famous director Luchino Visconti on an adaptation of Death of a salesman.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared less often for the cinema. His films from this period include the historical drama Viva l'Italia!/Garibaldi (Roberto Rossellini, 1961), the crime film Mise a Sac/Pillaged (Alain Cavalier, 1967), the historical romance Columna/The Column (Mircea Dragan, 1968), and the Western Amore, piombo e furore/China 9, Liberty 37 (Monte Hellmann, 1978) with Fabio Testi and Warren Oates.

In the following decades he was seen more regularly in films and also on TV. His roles were however smaller and the films less successful than during the 1950s. He appeared in supporting parts in the crime drama Il Camorrista/The Professor (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1986) starring Ben Gazzara, the Molière adaptation L’avare/The Miser (Tonino Cervi, 1990) starring Alberto Sordi, the psychological thriller L’ours en peluche/The Teddybear (Jacques Deray, 1994) with Alain Delon, and the drama Marciando Nel Buio/Marching in the dark (Massimo Spano, 1995), about the brutal rape of a young soldier and his attempts to bring the culprit to justice. He also appeared in a sexploitation film by Tinto Brass, Miranda (Tinto Brass, 1985).

More recent films were the sweeping crime drama Romanzo Criminale/Crime Novel (Michele Placido, 2005) starring Kim Rossi Stuart, and the comedy sequel Notte prima degli esami – Oggi/The Night Before the Exams - Today (Fausto Brizzi, 2007).

When he died, Franco Interlenghi was still married to Antonella Lualdi. They had married in 1955 and their marriage was one of the happiest in the Italian film community. Both their daughter, Antonellina Interlenghi and their granddaughter, Virginia Sanjust Di Teulada are actors too. Franco Interlenghi was 83.

Trailer Sciuscià/Shoeshine (1946). Source: Umbrella Entertainment (YouTube).

I Vinti/The Vanquished (1953). Source: Film&Clips (YouTube).

Trailer I Vitelloni/Spivs (1953) with Alberto Sordi and Franco Interlenghi. Source: Umbgu (YouTube).

How to Knock a Kiss: Antonella Lualdi and Franco Interlenghi. A delightful clip by Mr. Rug Cutter with footage from Gli Innamorati (Mauro Bolognini, 1955) and music by Three Suns, Movin`N´Groovin. Source"Mr. Rug Cutter (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Les gens du cinema (French), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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