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Entries in Dino De Laurentiis (6)

Saturday
Aug102019

De Laurentiis pt 5: the Schlocky 80s

This week at TFE we've celebrated the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis... with look backs at his Italian breakthrough, his expensive taste in 60s epics, an American reinvention, and the hubris of King Kong.

Here's Chris Feil to wrap things up...  

 

With the exception of Hannibal Lecter, history tends to overlook Dino De Laurentiis genre contributions. In fact when Manhunter (1986) would arrive, Hannibal was somewhat the closing chapter to what Dino would bring in the late 70s and 80s. Instead the interim brought its share of delightful schlock, namely giving David Lynch enduring battle wounds and introducing the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’m talking about the earnest disasterpieces Dune and Conan the Barbarian.

Think of this as the De Laurentiis dessert of our week-long series...

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Friday
Aug092019

De Laurentiis Pt 4: T'was beauty that... ooh, look King Kong

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  Here's Nathaniel R with a film that made the producer even more globally famous.

Dino de Laurentiis with "a new star" Jessica Lange

It's easy to see the retro but continuing appeal of King Kong to filmmakers. The legendary Beauty & Beast story is always about the movies themselves. An actress is the damsel in distress, the plot catalyst character is a movie director, the supersized monster is the myth being made. Along the way the story intending to be told by the showbiz cast of characters radically changes but the movie still manages to be about putting on a show. It's just another kind of show altogether after they meet Kong. The story, or, more accurately, the need to reboot it over and over again, is a great metaphor for the amoral churning of Hollywood as Capitalistic Machine. In most versions of King Kong, you dispose of the talent just as the show ends. Death to Kong! (Long live New Kong!)

While De Laurentiis was not actually a director, he was enough of a character in showbiz to often feel like the man behind the curtain instead of the man calling the shots on set (Directed by who?). Such was the case with his remake of King Kong (1976)...

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Thursday
Aug082019

Intermission/Posterized: Dino De Laurentiis 100th

Today in showbiz history the famous and sometimes infamous producer Dino de Laurentiis was born in a province of Naples, Italy. We'll take an intermission on our five or six part celebration today but we hope you've enjoyed the write-ups on Bitter Rice (1949) and the Fellini years, the creation of Dinocitta and its famous high-grossing but also-flopping The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), and his early years in America with gritty dramas like Serpico (1973) and Death Wish (1974). We resume tomorrow evening with the much-derided but very successful King Kong (1976) which just so happened to be the film debut of Jessica Lange.

Until then which of these 18 early De Laurentiis' productions have you seen? Do you have a favourite?He produced hundreds of his films in his career, starting at the age of 20, so this is just a small sample of his work in the first 30+ decades of his career...

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Wednesday
Aug072019

De Laurentiis pt 3: Starting over in America

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  In part one we looked at his breakout Italian hit, in part two an expensive epic flop. Here's Mark Brinkerhoff as Dino crosses the Ocean... 

Dino in 1970, and Al Pacino in Serpico (1973)
Dino De Laurentiis stormed Hollywood in the early ‘70s, quickly on the heels of fantastic successes like 1968’s Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik, which essentially closed out his previous decade (“essentially” because, man oh man, was this man ever prolific). 
 
Having branched from Neo-Italian into more international, English-language cinema, De Laurentiis set his sights on riding the New Hollywood wave then cresting. While still making the occasional spaghetti western and period piece, his films began to dabble more in contemporary themes. In fact, aside from The Valachi Papers (1972), his The Godfather manqué, De Laurentiis’ initial forays into filming stateside resulted in his grittiest, most modern productions to date...

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Tuesday
Aug062019

De Laurentiis pt 2: The '60s epics of Dinocittà

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  Here's Tim Brayton...

Yesterday, Eric took us on a tour of the first phase of Dino De Laurentiis's one-of-a-kind career as a producer, the era when he and Carlo Ponti helped usher a number of major works of late Neorealism into the world, introducing the first wave of international art cinema masterpieces. We now arrive at the 1960s, when De Laurenteiis was emboldened by those early successes to indulge himself in the first of his many flights of staggering, ill-advised ambition. Near the start of the decade, De Laurentiis opened a movie studio on the outskirts of Rome, an enormous playground for moviemaking nicknamed Dinocittà (after the famous Cinecittà, then and now the heart of the Italian film industry).

The Dinocittà experiment perfectly describes De Laurentiis's singular personality. A visionary producer can tell what is going to be popular in the future, and thus can jump in on trends at the moment of their inception. The hacks who make up the bulk of commercial producers know what was popular a year ago, and thus crank out movies that feel like uninspired cash-grabs and knock-offs. De Laurentiis had the gift and curse of knowing what's popular right this instant, and so his biggest swings – and too often, his biggest misses – came out just barely on the back side of the historical moment when they could live up to his extravagant hopes...

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Monday
Aug052019

De Laurentiis pt 1: "Bitter Rice" and the Fellini Years

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  We’ll start with three of his key influential early films. Here's Eric Blume...

Bitter Rice was De Laurentiis breakthrough international hit. He married its star

De Laurentiis, born outside of Naples, set up his own company in 1946 when he was just 27 years old. He produced four smaller films before making a huge splash onto the international scene with 1949’s Bitter Rice, a film currently available through the Criterion Collection.  Bitter Rice serves up an arresting and hypnotic blend of melodrama, sexuality, and social commentary. The film is set in northern Italy during a typical spring where hundreds of poor women travel to the rice fields to work to the bone for forty days.  There are workers with a legal contract and then the “illegals” who come in hopes of getting an opportunity. Within this sociopolitical context, our story finds two thieves (Doris Dowling and Victoria Gassman) hiding amongst the farm, intertwined in love stories with an impulsive young peasant girl (Silvana Mangano) and a soldier from the nearby station (Raf Vallone)... 

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