27 June 2017

Marcello Mastroianni

We're in Italy at Il Cinema Ritrovato and today we feature Marcello Mastroianni (1924-1996), Italy's favourite leading man of the second half of the 20th century. In his long and prolific career, he almost singlehandedly defined the contemporary type of Latin lover, then proceeded to redefine it a dozen times and finally parodied it and played it against type. One of his first films, Domenica d’agosto (Luciano Emmer, 1950), a nostalgic look at Rome's favourite recreation area: the beach at Ostia, is shown in the section A Sunday in Bologna. Marcello plays a traffic cop who devotedly helps his struggling girlfriend. "The film truly is a little gem with a wink and a big beating heart", according to the IMDb reviewer.

Marcello Mastroianni
Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 76.

Marcello Mastroianni
Italian postcard by Rotal Foto, Milano (Milan), no. 250.

Marcello Mastroianni
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 460.

Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell in Le notti bianche (1957)
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3486. Photo: G.B. Poletto. Publicity still for Le notti bianche/ White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957) with Maria Schell.

Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimee in La dolce vita (1960)
Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960) with Anouk Aimée.

Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni in La Notte (1961)
Small Romanian collectors card by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity stil for La Notte (Michelangerlo Antonioni, 1961) with Jeanne Moreau.

Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale in Otto e Mezzo (1963)
French postcard by Edition La Malibran, Paris, no. MC 38, 1990. Photo: Claude Schwartz. Publicity still for Otto e Mezzo/8½ (Federico Fellini, 1963) with Claudia Cardinale.

Marcello Mastroianni
Franco-German postcard by Ufa AG, Berlin/Editions P.I., Paris. Photo: Betzler / Bavaria / Schorcht Film.

Marcello Mastroianni
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 1445. Photo: Cineriz.

Marcello Mastroianni
Russian postcard from 1987. Collection: Pierre sur le Ciel.

Forced-labour Camp

Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni was born in Fontana Liri, a small village in the Apennines, in 1924. He was the son of Ida (née Irolle) and Ottone Mastroianni, who ran a carpentry shop. Marcello grew up in Turin and Rome.

He appeared as an uncredited extra in Marionette (Carmine Gallone, 1939) and later appeared as an extra in Una storia d'amore/Love Story (Mario Camerini, 1942) and I bambini ci guardano/The Children Are Watching Us (Vittorio De Sica, 1944).

He worked in his father's carpentry shop, but during World War II he was put to work by the Germans drawing maps. During 1943–1944 he was imprisoned in a forced-labour camp, but he escaped and hid in Venice.

In 1944, Mastroianni started working as a cashier for film company Eagle Lion (Rank) in Rome. He began taking acting lessons and acted with the University of Rome dramatic group. In the university's production of Angelica (1948) he appeared with Giulietta Masina.

His first real film credit was in I Miserabili/Les misérables (Riccardo Freda, 1948) with Gino Cervi.

That year Mastroianni joined Luchino Visconti's repertory company, which was bringing to Italy a new kind of theatre and novel ideas of staging. The young actor played Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, Happy in Death of a Salesman, Stanley Kowalski in Visconti's second staging of Streetcar, and roles in Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya.

He also acted in radio plays and he had his first substantial film role in the comedy Una domenica d'agosto/Sunday in August (Luciano Emmer, 1949).

In 1955 Mastroianni co-starred with Vittorio De Sica and Sophia Loren - an actress with whom he would frequently be paired in the years to come - in the screwball comedy Peccato che Sia una Canaglia/Too Bad She's Bad (Alessandro Blasetti, 1955) and later worked with De Sica again on the comedy Padri e Figli/Like Father, Like Son (Mario Monicelli, 1957).

His roles gradually increased in importance, but for the most part both the casts and crews of his projects were undistinguished, and he remained an unknown outside of Italy. Mastroianni permanently sealed his stardom in Italy, playing a timid clerk whose love is not reciprocated by Maria Schell, in Le notti bianche/White Nights (Luchino Visconti, 1957).

He soon became a major international star appearing in films like I soliti ignoti/Big Deal on Madonna Street (Mario Monicelli, 1958) with Vittorio Gassman. In this classic crime caper he displayed a light touch for comedy, playing the exasperated member of an inept group of burglars.

In 1960 he played his most famous role as a disillusioned and world-weary tabloid columnist who spends his days and nights exploring Rome's high society in Federico Fellini's La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (1960) with Anita Ekberg. La dolce vita changed the look and direction of the Italian cinema.

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Throughout his adventures, Marcello's dreams, fantasies, and nightmares are mirrored by the hedonism around him. With a shrug, he concludes that, while his lifestyle is shallow and ultimately pointless, there's nothing he can do to change it and so he might as well enjoy it. Fellini's hallucinatory, circus-like depictions of modern life first earned the adjective 'Felliniesque' in this celebrated movie, which also traded on the idea of Rome as a hotbed of sex and decadence. A huge worldwide success, La Dolce Vita won several awards, including a New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Foreign Film and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival."

Marcello Mastroianni
Italian postcard by Turismofoto, no. 94.

Marcello Mastroianni
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 68/72. Photo: Steffen.

Marcello Mastroianni in La Bella Mugnaia (1955)
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., no. 3163. Photo: Titanus. Publicity still for La Bella Mugnaia/The Miller's Beautiful Wife (Mario Camerini, 1955).

Marcello Mastroianni
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden / Westf., no. 2361. Photo: Bavaria / Schorcht / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Mädchen und Männer/La ragazza della salina/Sand, Love and Salt (1957).

Marcello Mastroianni
East-German postcard by Progress, no. 1372, 1960.

Stefania Sandrelli and Marcello Mastroianni in Divorzio all'italiana (1961)
Small Czech collectors card by Pressfoto, Praha (Prague), 1965, no. S 83/6. Publicity still for Divorzio all'italiana/Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1961) with Stefania Sandrelli.

Marcello Mastroianni
Franco-German postcard by Ufa AG / Editions P.I. Photo: Fried Agency.

Marcello Mastroianni
Spanish postcard by Toro de Bronce, no. 44, 1963.

Marcello Mastroianni
Small Czechoslovakian card by Presseojo, Praha (Prague), 1964. Retail price: 0,50 Kcs.

Marcello Mastroianni
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 512, 1958. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: Unitalia.

Not one-dimensional pretty boys

During the 1960s Marcello Mastroianni played in many great films and regularly worked with top Italian and French filmmakers. He appeared as the title character in Il bell'Antonio/Bell' Antonio (Mauro Bolognini, 1960) and starred in Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece La notte/The Night (1961), where again his distanced, expressionless demeanour fit perfectly into the film's air of alienation and remote emotionality.

He appeared in interesting films like L'assassino/The Assassin (1961, Elio Petri), La Vie Privée/A Very Private Affair (1962, Louis Malle) with Brigitte Bardot, and Cronaca familiare/Family Diary (Valerio Zurlini, 1962) with Jacques Perrin.

Mastroianni followed La dolce vita with another signature role for Fellini, that of Fellini’s alter-ego, a film director who, amidst self-doubt and troubled love affairs, finds himself in a creative block while making a film in Otto e Mezzo/8½ (Federico Fellini, 1962). The film won two Academy Awards.

Mastroianni won the British BAFTA award twice for his roles in the black comedy Divorzio all'Italiana/Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 1963) and the deliciously funny three-part sex farce Ieri, oggi, domani/Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Vittorio De Sica, 1963) costarring with Sophia Loren. He and Loren starred together again in the equally amusing sex comedy Matrimonio all'italiana/Marriage Italian Style (Vittorio De Sica, 1964).

According to Elaine Mancini on Film Reference “Mastroianni's masculinity blends perfectly with Loren's exuberant earthy personality” in both these films. While he was to become known for playing Latin lover roles (which he spoofed in Casanova 70 (Mario Monicelli, 1965), his characters often were far more complexly drawn. They were not one-dimensional pretty boys; rather, beneath their handsome exteriors they were lazy, world-weary, and doubt-ridden.

Other films were La decima vittima/The Tenth Victim (Elio Petri, 1965) with Ursula Andress and the Albert Camus adaptation Lo Straniero/The Stranger (Luchino Visconti, 1967) with Anna Karina.

Mastroianni won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for Dramma della gelosia - tutti i particolari in cronaca/Drama of Jealousy (Ettore Scola, 1970). In 1987 he would win the award again for Oci ciornie/Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1987). Mastroianni, Dean Stockwell and Jack Lemmon are the only actors to have won the award twice.

During the 1970s Mastroianni continued to work in interesting films by prolific directors like Leo the Last (John Boorman, 1970), Permette? Rocco Papaleo/My Name Is Rocco Papaleo (Ettore Scola, 1971) with Lauren Hutton, Che?/What? (Roman Polanski, 1972) with Sydne Rome and La donna della domenica/The Sunday Woman (Luigi Comencini, 1975) with Jacqueline Bisset.

He often worked with controversial director Marco Ferreri at Liza (Marco Ferreri, 1972) with Catherine Deneuve, La Grande Bouffe/Blow Out (Marco Ferreri, 1973), Touche pas à la femme blanche/ Don't Touch the White Woman! (Marco Ferreri, 1974), and Ciao maschio/Bye Bye Monkey (Marco Ferreri, 1978) with Gérard Depardieu.

Other interesting films are Così come sei/Stay as You Are (Alberto Lattuada, 1978) with Nastassja Kinski, L'ingorgo - Una storia impossibile/Traffic Jam (Luigi Comencini, 1979) with Annie Girardot, and La terrazza/The Terrace (Ettore Scola, 1980) with Vittorio Gassman.

He played against his Latin lover image in Scola’s Una giornata particolare/A Special Day (Ettore Scola, 1977), in which Mastroianni's homosexual and Sophia Loren's oppressed housewife come together on the day in 1938 when Adolph Hitler was cheered on the streets of Rome during his visit to Benito Mussolini.

His seemingly detached air was perfectly suited to satire as well, as he demonstrated in films as diverse as the historical drama Allonsanfàn (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1974), and La città delle donne/City of Women (Federico Fellini, 1980).

Marcello Mastroianni
Belgian card by Publishop, Brussels for Cine Metro, Antwerpen, no. 18. Photo: MGM.

Marcello Mastroianni in Matrimonio all'italiana (1964)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2634. Photo: publicity still for Matrimonio all'italiana/Marriage Italian Style (Vittorio De Sica, 1964).

Marcello Mastroianni
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 2557, 1966.

Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren in La Moglie del Prete
German postcard by pwe Verlag, München (Munich). Photo: publicity still for La moglie del prete/The Priest's Wife (Dino Risi, 1970) with Sophia Loren.

Marcello Mastroianni
Russian postcard by Izdanije Byuro Propogandy Sovietskogo Kinoiskusstva, no. 3624, 1975. This postcard was printed in an edition of 200.000 cards. Retail price: 5 kop.

Marcello Mastroianni in Casanova 70 (1970)
German postcard by Friedrich W. Sander Verlag, Minden. Photo: Inter Film. Still for Casanova 70 (Mario Monicelli, 1970).

Marcello Mastroianni
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 4881.

Marie Trintignant and Marcello Mastroianni in La terrazza (1980)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for La terrazza (Ettore Scola, 1980) with Marie Trintignant.

Marcello Mastroianni in Enrico IV (1984)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for Enrico IV/Henry IV (Marco Bellocchio, 1984).

Marcello Mastroianni in Ginger e Fred (1986)
German press photo, no. 5. Photo: Tobis. Publicity still for Ginger e Fred (Federico Fellini, 1986).

Wonderfully Nostalgic

In the latter stages of his career, Marcello Mastroianni continued to take serious dramatic roles. For instance, he played the senior citizen who simply looks back on his past. In Stanno tutti bene/Everybody's Fine (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1990), he is an elderly man who is absorbed in his memories, and who travels through Italy to call on his five adult children.

In Oci ciornie/Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, 1987), he gives a tour-de-force performance as a once young and idealistic aspiring architect who married a banker's daughter, fell into a lifestyle of afternoon snoozes and philandering, and proved incapable of holding onto what was important to him.

His on-screen presence has also been directly linked to his earlier screen characterisations. In Prêt-à-Porter/Ready to Wear (Robert Altman, 1994), he was reunited with Sophia Loren, and at one point in the scenario, she recreated her famous steamy striptease sequence from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Loren was as beguiling as she had been 30 years earlier but Mastroianni was no longer the attentive young lover, so Sophia's seductive moves only put him to sleep.

Mastroianni's appearance in two of Fellini's final features is especially sentimental. Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (Federico Fellini, 1996) is sweetly nostalgic for its union of Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina, two of the maestro's then-aging but still vibrant stars of the past.

In Intervista (Federico Fellini, 1987), he appears as himself with Anita Ekberg, with whom he had starred decades before in La dolce vita. Mastroianni's entrance is especially magical; the sequence in which he and Ekberg (who, he remarks, he has not seen since making La dolce vita) observe their younger selves in some famous clips from that film is wonderfully nostalgic.

In 1988 Mastroianni was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards. He kept appearing in critically acclaimed films like To meteoro vima tou pelargou/The Suspended Step of the Stork (Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1991), in which he was quietly poignant as an obscure man who may have once been an important Greek politician who had disappeared years earlier.

Other films were Al di là delle nuvole/Beyond the Clouds (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1995) and Trois vies et une seule mort/Three Lives and Only One Death (Raúl Ruiz, 1996) with Anna Galiena. His final film was Viagem ao Princípio do Mundo/Voyage to the Beginning of the World (Manoel de Oliveira, 1997).

Marcello Mastroianni was married to Italian actress Flora Carabella (1926-1999) from 1948 until his death. They had one child together, Barbara. Mastroianni also had a daughter, actress Chiara Mastroianni, with French film star Catherine Deneuve, his longtime lover during the 1970s.

Both Flora and Catherine were at his bedside in Paris when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72, as was his partner at the time, author and filmmaker Anna Maria Tatò. According to Christopher Wiegand and Paul Duncan in their book Federico Fellini, when Mastroianni died in 1996, the Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), which is so famously associated with him due to his role in Fellini's La dolce vita, was symbolically turned off and draped in black as a tribute.

His brother Ruggero Mastroianni (1929-1996) was a highly regarded film editor who edited several of Marcello's films directed by Federico Fellini, and appeared alongside Marcello in Scipione detto anche l'Africano/Scipio the African (Luigi Magni, 1971), a comedic take on the once popular Peplum, the sword and sandal film genre. Marcello Mastroianni had held starring roles in about 120 films over the course of his long career.

Trailer for Domenica d'agosto (1950). Source: Ugo Tramontano (YouTube).

The classic Trevi Fountain scene in La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (1960) with Anita Ekberg. Source: רונן אברהם (YouTube).

Trailer for 8 1/2 (1961). Source: BFI (YouTube).

Trailer for La Notte (1961). Source: Hadalat (YouTube).

Trailer for Ieri, oggi, domani/Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963). Source: Jeffrey M. Anderson (YouTube).

Trailer for La Grande Bouffe/Blow Out (1973). Source: Arrow Video (YouTube).

Trailer for Una giornata particolare/A Special Day (1977). Source: Argent Films (YouTube).

Trailer for La città delle donne/City of Women (1980). Source: Das Film Feuilleton (YouTube).

Trailer for Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (1986). Source: Movieclips Trailer Vault (YouTube).

Sources: Elaine Mancini (Film Reference; updated by Rob Edelman), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Jason Ankeny (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.


Tom said...

I enjoyed this post very much. Great pictures.

Dhiraj said...

great pictures
Marcello Mastroianni’s easy charm was an ideal vehicle for portraying decadence. His nonchalant air was redolent with womanizing and sex. However this decadence was aloof. It rarely expressed itself in unabashed glee. A more likely expression was an amused shrug and resigned surrender to the demands of hedonism. He lived this charming persona, redefined it time and again and completed the continuum by parodying it.