The Italian Almanac

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Marcello Mastroianni

Italian News - December 11

Italy is gearing up to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of one of its best-known actors, Marcello Mastroianni. The three-time Academy Award-nominated star, best known as the weary-eyed journalist in Federico Fellini's masterpiece La Dolce Vita, died of cancer aged 72 on December 19, 1996 in Paris.

The capital's 'Casa del Cinema' (House of Cinema) museum in the Villa Borghese park plans to screen Mastroianni films on the anniversary. These will include some of his less famous flicks which were not included in the tribute to him at October's Rome Film Festival. The anniversary will also be the occasion for the DVD release of a new documentary entitled 'Marcello - Una Vita Dolce' (Marcello - A Sweet Life) by Mario Canale.

The film, which was presented at the last edition of the Cannes Film Festival, brings together interviews with the actor, clips of his films and the recollections of family members. As well as the show-business persona, the documentary uncovers his slightly melancholy soul, his love of food, his chain-smoking, his charm and his notorious laziness.

This final characteristic, however, never kept him away from the cinema set as he regarded film-making as "fun" and starred in over 140 movies. One of the world's most admired screen actors, he was born in a small village in the Apennines in 1924 and grew up in Rome and Turin. His real breakthrough came in 1960, when Fellini cast him as the lead in La Dolce Vita opposite Anita Ekberg.

The hugely influential film was the start of the 'Latin Lover' persona, which stayed with Mastroianni for the rest of his career despite his frequent attempts to escape it by choosing sensitive, even homosexual roles. Mastroianni was also Fellini's alter ego in his portrayal of a troubled movie director in 8 (1963).