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Gassman, Vittorio

GASSMAN, Vittorio



Nationality: Italian. Born: Genoa, 1 September 1922. Education: Attended law school; then studied acting under Silvio D'Amico at the National Academy of Dramatic Art, Rome. Family: Second marriage to the actress Shelley Winters, 1952 (divorced 1954), one daughter. Career: 1943—joined the Elsa Mellini Company and made stage debut; 1946—film debut in Preludio d'amore; 1952—contract with MGM: made several films in Hollywood; 1956—directed the film Kean; 1958–59—in TV series Il mattatore (and wrote some episodes); 1960—founded his own theater company Teatro Popolare Italiano; has also acted in his own one-man show; 1982—acted in his own Italian version of Othello. Awards: Best Actor, Cannes Festival, for Profumo di donna, 1974; Nastro d'argento Award for Best Actor, for Lo zio indegno, 1989; Golden Lion Award, 1996. Died: 29 June 2000.


Films as Actor:

1946

Preludio d'amore (Paolucci) (as Davide); Daniele Cortis (Soldati) (title role)

1947

La figlia del capitano (Camerini) (as Svabrin); Le avventure di Pinocchio (Guardone); L'Ebreo errante (The Wandering Jew) (Alessandrini) (as Mathieu Blumenthal)

1948

Il cavaliere misterioso (Freda) (as Casanova); Riso amaro (Bitter Rice) (De Santis) (as Walter)

1949

Il lupo della Sila (Coletti) (as Pietro); Una voce nel tuo cuore (A Voice in Your Heart) (d'Aversa) (as Paolo Baldini); I fuorilegge (Vergano) (as Turi); Ho sognato il paradiso (Pastina) (as Giorgio); Lo sparviero del Nilo (Gentilomo) (as Yusef)

1950

Il leone di Amalfi (Francisci) (as Mauro)

1951

Il tradimento (Freda) (as Renato Salvi); Anna (Lattuada) (as Vittorio); Il sogno di Zorro (Soldati) (as Don Antonio)

1952

La corona negra (La caronna nera) (Saslavsky) (as Mauricio); La tratta delle bianche (Comencini) (as Michele)

1953

Sombrero (Norman Foster) (as Alejandro Castillo); Cry of the Hunted (Joseph H. Lewis) (as Jory); The Glass Wall (Shane) (as Peter)

1954

Rhapsody (Charles Vidor) (as Paul Bronte); Mambo (Rossen) (as Mario Rossi)

1955

La donna più bella del mondo (Beautiful but Dangerous) (Leonard) (as Prince Sergio)

1956

Difendo il mio amore (Defend My Love; I'll Defend You My Love) (Sherman, Italian version directed by Guilio Macchi) (as Giovanni); Giovanni delle Bande Nere (Grieco) (as Giovanni d'Medici); War and Peace (Guerra e pace) (King Vidor) (as Anatole Kuragin)

1957

La ragazza del palio (The Love Specialist) (Zampa) (as Prince Piero)

1958

I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street; Persons Unknown) (Monicelli) (as Peppe); La tempesta (The Tempest) (Lattuada) (as Pubblico Accusatore)

1959

La grande guerra (The Great War) (Monicelli) (as Giovanni Busacca); La cambiale (Mastrocinque) (as Michele); Audace colpo dei soliti ignoti (Fiasco in Milan; Hold-up à la Milanaise) (Loy) (as Peppe); Le sorprese dell'amore (Comencini) (as guest); The Miracle (Rapper) (as Guido)

1960

Il mattatore (Love and Larceny) (Risi) (as Gerardo); Fantasmi a Roma (Pietrangeli) (as Caparra); Crimen (. . . And Suddenly It's Murder; Killing in Monte Carlo) (Camerini) (as Remo)

1961

I briganti italiani (Camerini) (as O'Caporale); Barabba (Barabbas) (Fleischer) (as Sahak); Il giudizio universale (de Sica) (as Cimino); Una vita difficile (Risi) (as guest)

1962

Anima Nera (Rossellini) (as Adriano); La marcia su Roma (Risi) (as Domenico Rocchetti); "L'avaro" ep. of L'amore difficile (Lucignani) (as L'Avvocato); Il sorpasso (The Easy Life) (Risi) (as Bruno Cortona)

1963

Lo smania addosso (Eye of the Needle) (Andrei) (as Mazzano); Il successo (Morassi) (as Giulio Ceriani); I mostri (Opiate '67; 15 from Rome) (Risi); Frenesia dell'estate (Zampa) (as Capt. Nardoni)

1964

Se permettete parliamo di donne (Let's Talk about Women) (Scola) (as Proteiforme Adamo); Il gaucho (Risi) (as Mario Ravicchio); La congiuntura (One Million Dollars) (Scola) (as Don Giuliano)

1965

Slalom (Salce) (as Luci Ridolfi); Una vergine per il principe (A Maiden for the Prince; A Maiden for a Prince) (Festa Campanile) (as Prince don Vincenzo Gonzaga)

1966

One ep. of La Guerre secrète (La guerra segreta; Spione unter sich; The Dirty Game; The Dirty Agents) (Lizzani) (as Perego); L'armata Brancaleone (Monicelli) (as Brancaleone da Norcia); Il diavolo innamorato (The Devil in Love; L'arcidiavolo) (Scola) (as Belfager Arcidiavolo); Le piacevoli notti (Crispini and Lucignani) (as Bastiano da Sangallo)

1967

Il tigre (The Tiger and the Pussycat) (Risi) (as Francesco Vincenzini); Lo scatenato (Catch as Catch Can) (Indovina) (as Bob Chiaramonte); Questi fantasmi (Ghosts, Italian Style; Three Ghosts) (Castellani) (as Pasquale Lojacono); "Linda" and "Two against One" eps. in Woman Times Seven (Sette volta donna; Sept fois femme) (de Sica) (as Cenci); Il profeta (Risi) (as Pietro Breccia)

1969

Dove vai tutta nuda? (Festa Campanile) (as Rafus); L'arcagelo (Capitani) (as Fulvio Bertuccia); Una su tredici (Twelve Plus One) (Gessner) (as Mario "Mike" Beretti); La pecora nera (Salce) (as Filippo/Giulio)

1970

"La bomba alla televisione" ep. in Contestazione generale (Zampa) (as Riccardo); Il divorzio (Guerrieri) (as Leonardo); Brancaleone alle Crociate (Monicelli) (title role); Scipione detto anche l'Africano (Magni) (title role)

1971

Il nome delle popolo italiano (Risi) (as Lorenzo Santenocito); L'udienza (Ferreri) (as Prince Donati)

1972

Che c'entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? (Corbucci) (as Guido Guidi)

1973

La Tosca (Magni) (as Scarpia)

1974

C'eravamo tanto amati (Scola) (as Gianni); Profumo di donna (Scent of a Woman) (Risi) (as Capt. Fausto Censolo)

1975

A mezzanotte va la ronda del piacere (The Immortal Bachelor; Midnight Pleasures; Qui comincia l'avventura) (Fondato) (as Andrea Sansani)

1976

Telefoni bianchi (Risi) (as Franco Denza); Come una rosa al naso (Pure as a Rose) (Risi) (as Antonie Mancuso); "La bomba" ep. of Signore e signori, buonanotte (Monicelli) (as Tuttunpezzo); Le désert des Tartares (Il deserto dei Tartari; The Desert of the Tartars) (Zurlini) (as Filimore); Anima persa (Risi) (as Fabio Stolz)

1977

"Tantum Ergo," "Like a Queen," and "The Inn" eps. of I nuovi mostri (Viva Italia!; The New Monsters) (Monicelli, Risi, and Scola) (several roles)

1978

A Wedding (Altman) (as Luigi Corelli)

1979

Quintet (Altman) (as San Cristoforo); Due pezzi di pane (Citti) (as Pippo Mifa); Caro papà (Risi) (as Albino Millozza); La terrazza (Scola) (as Mario)

1980

Camera d'albergo (Monicelli) (as Achille Mengaroni); The Nude Bomb (Clive Donner) (as Nino Salvatore Sebastiani); Sono fotogenico (Risi)

1981

Il turno (Ceroi) (as Ciro Coppa); Sharkey's Machine (Burt Reynolds) (as Victor)

1982

Tempest (Mazursky) (as Alonzo)

1983

Benvenuta (Delvaux) (as Livio Carpi)

1984

La Vie est un roman (Life Is a Bed of Roses) (Resnais) (as Walter)

1985

Le Pouvoir du mal (The Power of Evil; Paradigma) (Zanussi) (as Gotfried); I soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (Big Deal on Madonna Street—Update) (Todini) (as Peppe the Panther)

1987

La famiglia (The Family) (Scola) (as Carlo/Carlo's Grandfather); I picari (The Picaros) (Monicelli) (as Baron)

1989

Lo zio indegno (The Sleazy Uncle) (Brusati) (as Uncle Lucca)

1990

Mille et une nuits (Sheherazade) (de Broca) (as Sinbad); Tolgo il disturbo (Risi); Come un bambino (Risi)

1991

Dimenticare Palermo (The Palermo Connection) (Rosi) (as Prince)

1992

Quando eravmo repressi (When We Were Repressed) (Quartullo) (as the sexologist); El Largo Invierno (The Long Winter) (Camino) (as Claudio)

1994

Tutti Gli anni una volta l'anno (Once a Year, Every Year) (Lazotti) (as Giuseppe); Abraham (Sargent—for TV)

1996

Sleepers (Levinson) (King Benny)

1997

Deserto di fuoco (Castellari—for TV) (as Tarek)

1998

La Cena (Scola) (as Maestro Pezzullo)

1999

Luchino Visconti (Lizzani) (as himself); Astérix et Obélix contre César (Zidi); La Bomba (Base) (Don Vito Bracalone)

Films as Actor and Director:

1956

Kean (title role, + co-sc)

1969

L'alibi (co-d, role as Vittorio, + co-sc)

1972

Senzo famiglia, nullatenenti, cercano affetto . . . (as Armando, + co-sc)

1982

Di padre in figlio

1988

L'Altro enigma (Gassman/Tuzii)



Publications


By GASSMAN: books—

Un grande avvenire dietro le spalle, Milan, 1981.

Vocalizzi (poems), Milan, 1988.

Memorie del sottoscala, 1990.

Mal di parola, Milan, 1992.

Camper: farsa edipica in 2 tempi e 10 rounds, Milan 1994.


By GASSMAN: articles—

"Vittorio Gassman, l'homme aux cent visages," interview and article by J. A. Gili, in Ecran (Paris), October 1975.

Interview with P.-A. Boutang, in Cinématographe (Paris), April 1982.

Interview with Dan Yakir, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1983.

"Vittorio Gassman et le théâtre," in Revue du Cinéma (Paris), December 1987.


On GASSMAN: books—

Degioanni, Bernard, Vittorio Gassman, Paris, 1980.

Cappelletti, Dante, Vittorio Gassman: solitudine di un mattatore, Rome 1988.

Ciro, Rita, Il mestiere di attore: la pratica artistica e i luoghi di formazione: a colloquio con Vittorio Gassman e Bernard Dort, Citta di Castello, Italy, 1992.

Gambetti, Giacomo, Un attore e la societai Vittorio Gassman, Urbino, Italy, 1994.


On GASSMAN: articles—

Lane, J. F., "Italy's Man of a Thousand Faces," in Films and Filming (London), April 1959.

Current Biography 1964, New York, 1964.

CinemAction (Conde-sur-Noireau, France), March 1987.

Kudriavtsev, S., "Dos'e 'IK,"' in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 4, 1991.

Rocco, N., "La 'cattiveria' di Dino Risi," in Quaderni di Cinema (Florence), April/June 1993.

Pitta, A., "Il mestiere di attore," in Nuovo, July-October 1993.


* * *

Of Austrian and Italian parentage, Vittorio Gassman appeared in dozens of stage plays before making his movie debut in Preludio d'amore. Another of his early films, Giuseppe De Santis's Risoamaro, with Gassman opposite Silvana Mangano in what was considered a shockingly erotic work, was a box-office success, focusing on Gassman's considerable international attention. After playing the role of Casanova in Il cavaliere misterioso—and while doing intermittent stage roles, many of them classical—he was again teamed with Mangano in Alberto Lattuada's Anna, another commercial success.

His handsome looks and casually arrogant manner suggested him as a leading man, and he did eventually become a matinee idol in Italy. After marrying the American actress Shelley Winters, he signed a contract with MGM and made four U.S. films, all at least respectable, though none really caught on. So Gassman returned to Italy, starring in Robert Rossen's Mambo, Robert Z. Leonard's La donna più bella del mondo, and as Anatole in King Vidor's War and Peace.

After acting in and co-directing (with Francesco Rosi) Kean, a film about the great English actor, and appearing in Lattuada's Tempest, Gassman starred in Mario Monicelli's entertaining caper satire, I soliti ignoti, playing a slaphappy ex-boxer and incompetent crook. From that point on, he specialized in comedy, garnering better reviews as a comedian than in roles as a dramatic leading man, for which he had been criticized frequently for overacting.

His favorite director has been Dino Risi, and he has worked in 15 of his films. Other directors he has publicly acknowledged his indebtedness to are Mario Monicelli, who helped Gassman change the direction of his career from strained dramatic lead to deft comedian by offering him his first comic role in I soliti ignoti; and Ettore Scola, who cast him in each of the first four feature films he directed. Gassman also acted in two late-1970s films by American director Robert Altman, A Wedding and Quintet.

Perhaps his most triumphant performance was in Dino Risi's comedy-drama, Profumo di donna, which earned Gassman the Best Actor Award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival for his performance as a blind rogue forced to rely on his other senses. A comeback of sorts for Gassman—critically, that is, for his career had never floundered commercially—Profumo di donna was yet another demonstration that Gassman's forte remains comedy, which brings out his joie de vivre and light touch, and short-circuits his occasional tendency to overact.

—Bill Wine

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