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Cecchi d'Amico, Susanna 1914–

Cecchi d'Amico, Susanna 1914–

(Suso Cecchi D'Amico)

PERSONAL: Born Giovanna Cecchi, July 21, 1914, in Rome, Italy; daughter of Emilio Cecchi (a literary critic) and Leonetta Pieraccini (an artist); married Fedele d'Amico (a music critic); children: Masolino, Silvia, Caterina. Education: Studied in Rome, Italy, and Cambridge, England.

ADDRESSES: Home—via Paisiello 27, 00198, Rome, Italy.

CAREER: Author of movie and television screenplays. Has worked as a journalist and translator of English-language plays. Vice chair, David di Donatello Prize; jury member, Premio Strega.

AWARDS, HONORS: Best script award, Sindicato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani, 1986, for Let's Hope It's a Girl; Golden Lion Award, Venice Film Festival, 1994.

WRITINGS:

SCREENPLAYS; UNDER NAME SUSO CECCHI D'AMICO

Mio figlio professore (also known as Professor, My Son), 1946.

Vivere in pace (also known as To Live in Peace), 1946.

Roma città libera, 1946.

Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (also known as Flesh Will Surrender), 1947.

L'onorevole Angelina (also known as Angelina), 1947.

Fabiola, 1948.

(With Cesare Zavattini and Vittorio de Sica) Ladri di biciclette (also known as The Bicycle Thief), 1948.

Patto col diavolo, 1948.

Cielo sulla palude (also known as Heaven over the Marshes), 1948.

(Coauthor) Le mura di Malapaga (also known as The Walls of Malapaga), 1949.

Prohibito rubare (also known as Guaglio), 1949.

(Coauthor) Miracolo a Milano (also known as Miracle in Milan), 1950.

E primavera (also known as It's Forever Springtime,), 1950.

E più facile che un cammello, 1950.

Romazo d'amore (also known as Toselli), 1950.

Due mogli sono troppe (also known as Honeymoon Deferred), 1951.

Bellissima, 1951.

(Coauthor) Altri tempi (includes Primo amore by Cecchi D'Amico; also known as Times Gone By), 1952.

Processo alla città (also known as A Town on Trial), 1952.

Buon Giorno, elefante! (also known as Hello, Elephant! and Pardon My Trunk), 1952.

I vinti (also known as I nostri figli), 1952.

Il mondo le condanna (also known as His Last Twelve Hours), 1952.

Siamo donne (also known as We the Women), 1953.

(Coauthor) Tempi nostri (includes Il pupo by Cecchi D'Amico; also known as Anatomy of Love), 1953.

Febbre di vivere, 1953.

La signora senze camelie (also known as Camille without Camellias and The Lady without Camellias), 1953.

Cento anni d'amore, 1953.

(Author of rewrites; uncredited) Roman Holiday, 1953.

Graziella, 1954.

Senso (also known as The Wanton Contessa), 1954.

L'allegro squadrone, 1954.

Peccato che sia una canaglia (also known as Too Bad She's Bad), 1954.

Proibito, 1954.

Le amiche (also known as The Girlfriends), 1955.

La fortuna di essere donna (also known as Lucky to Be a Woman), 1956.

La finestra sul Luna Park, 1956.

Kean, 1956.

(Coauthor) Difendo il mio amore, 1956.

Le notti bianche (also known as White Nights), 1957.

Nella città l'inferno (also known as And the Wild, Wild Women), 1958.

La sfida (also known as The Challenge), 1958.

I soliti ignoti (also known as Big Deal on Madonna Street), 1958.

Estate violenta (also known as Violent Summer), 1959.

I magliari, 1959.

La contessa azzurra, 1960.

(Coauthor) Rocco e i suoi fratelli (also known as Rocco and His Brothers), 1960.

Risate di gioia (also known as The Passionate Thief), 1960.

It Started in Naples, 1960.

Salvatore Giuliano, 1961.

Il relitto (also known as The Wastrel), 1961.

I due nemici (also known as The Best of Enemies), 1961.

(Coauthor) Boccaccio '70 (includes Il lavoro [title means "The Job"] and Renzo e Luciana by Cecchi D'Amico), 1962.

(Coauthor) Les quatre vérités (includes Le lièvre et la tortue [title means "The Tortoise and the Hare"]; also known as Three Fables of Love), 1962.

(Coauthor) Il gattopardo (also known as The Leopard), 1963.

Gli indifferenti (also known as Time of Indifference,), 1963.

Casanova '70, 1965.

Vaghe stelle dell'orsa (also known as Sandra), 1965.

Io, io, io … e gli altri, 1966.

(Coauthor) Le fate (includes Queen Armenia by Cecchi D'Amico), 1966.

Spara forte, più forte … non capisco (also known as Shout Loud, Louder … I Don't Understand), 1966.

The Taming of the Shrew (based on the play by William Shakespeare), 1966.

Lo straniero (also known as The Stranger), 1967.

L'uomo, l'orgoglio, la vendetta (also known as Man, Pride, and Vengeance), 1967.

Metello, 1969.

Infanzia, vocazione, e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, Veneziano, 1969.

Senza sapere nulla di lei, 1969.

La mortadella (also known as Lady Liberty), 1971.

Pinocchio (television screenplay), 1972.

Fratello sole, sorella luna (also known as Brother Sun, Sister Moon), 1972.

Il diavolo nel cervello, 1972.

I figli chiedono perche, 1972.

Ludwig, 1973.

Amore e ginnastica, 1973.

Gruppo di famiglia in un interno (also known as Conversation Piece and Violence et Passion), 1974.

Prete, fai un miracolo, 1974.

(Coauthor) Amore amaro, 1974.

L'innocente (also known as The Innocent), 1976.

Caro Michele, 1976.

Dimmi che fai tutto per mei, 1976.

La velia, 1980.

(Coauthor) Lighea, 1983.

(Coauthor) Les mots pour le dire, 1983.

Cuore (television screenplay), 1984.

Uno scandale per bene, 1984.

(Coauthor) Bertoldo, Bertoldino e Cacasenno, 1984.

(Coauthor) Le due vite di Mattia Pascal (also known as The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal), 1985.

(Coauthor) I soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (also known as Big Deal on Madonna Street … Twenty Years Later), 1986.

(Coauthor) Speriamo che sia femmina (also known as Let's Hope It's a Girl), 1986.

La storia (also known as History), 1986.

(Coauthor) L'inchiesta, 1987.

(Coauthor) Oci ciornie (also known as Dark Eyes), 1987.

I picari, 1987.

Ti presento un'amica, 1988.

(Coauthor) Stradivari, 1989.

Il male oscuro, 1990.

Rossini, Rossini, 1990.

Parenti serpenti, 1992.

La fine e nota, 1993.

(Coauthor) Cari fottutissimi amici, 1993.

Facciamo paradiso, 1995.

(Coauthor of story) Bruno aspetta in macchna, 1996.

OTHER; UNDER NAME SUSO CECCHI D'AMICO

(Translator, with Emilio Cecchi) William Shakespeare, Otello, published in Teatro, Volume 3, [Florence, Italy], 1961.

(With others) Bicycle Thieves (script; also see below), [London, England], 1968, published as The Bicycle Thief, [New York, NY], 1968.

(With others) Miracle in Milan (script; also see below), [New York, NY], 1968.

(With Luchino Visconti) Two Screenplays (contains Senso and La terra trema), [New York, NY], 1970.

(With others) Three Screenplays (contains The Job, Rocco and His Brothers, and White Nights; also see below), [New York, NY], 1970.

Also translator into Italian of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. Contributor to periodicals, including Positif and Revista del Cinematografo.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Recently completed, with son Masolino d'Amico, an adaptation of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and a script for Mario Monicelli called L'uomo nero ("The Boogie Man").

SIDELIGHTS: Susanna Cecchi D'Amico, who is best known by her nickname, Suso, is famous for her long writing collaboration with Luchino Visconti, as well as many other notable Italian directors; her work is at the core of a long list of films that embodies the development of postwar Italian cinema from Alessandro Blasetti to Vittorio de Sica, from Francesco Rosi to Franco Zeffirelli and Michelangelo Antonioni. As A. G. Basoli noted in Cineaste, Cecchi d'Amico has come to be called the "Grand Lady of Italian Cinema" because of her substantial contributions. Basoli continued, "Cecchio d'Amico's exceptional cultural versatility as a writer account[s] for her protean command of genres and milieus, from contemporary comedies such as Big Deal on Madonna Street to historical dramas like The Leopard. She is fond of saying she is only an 'artisan,' not an 'auteur,' and she takes pride in shaping a screenplay to enhance a director's particular skills."

The daughter of literary critic Emilio Cecchi, Cecchio d'Amico took advantage of his connection to the cinema in beginning her career in screenwriting, a direction inspired by her already avid interest in films. Emilio Cecchi had become interested in film after visiting Hollywood, and when he returned to Italy he got a job at Cines, then one of the biggest studios in Italy. "We children knew much more about cinema than he did," she recalled for Basoli. "We were wild about cinema. What with him working at Cines and because of our unlimited access, we were constantly running around the soundstages…. He produced some very bold new films, very modern things that today would be called neorealist." Emilio Cecchi would at times ask his daughter to read scripts and provide feedback. It did not occur to her at the time to writer her own scripts, but "[Carlo] Ponti and [Renato] Castellani … at some point came up with the idea, 'Why don't you participate? Why don't you write films?' Fine, I thought, let's give it a shot. I tried, I liked it, and I had fun, so I continued."

One of her earliest successes as a screenwriter was Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief), which was directed by de Sica, whose realism approach to cinematography predated any theorization of neoreal-ism. The moral catch-22 behind The Bicycle Thief lends De Sica's slice-of-life a bitter edge. Cecchio d'Amico's collaboration with Francesco Rosi has also been rewarding; but the most productive relationship has been with Visconti, for whom she worked on all but two of his films. Among their collaborations are Bellissima, We the Women, The Wanton Contessa, White Nights, Rocco and His Brothers, The Innocent, Senso, Ludwig, and The Leopard.

Some of Cecchi d'Amico's early writing was also for the stage, and she also translated works by such writers as William Shakespeare and Ernest Hemingway into Italian. It was during her theater work that she met Visconti, whose requeast for translation work evolved into a job as a script writer. "Visconti was the easiest [director] to work with because he knew exactly what he wanted," she told Basoli. "Right off the bat, from the moment he chose the treatment, he let me know where he wanted to take the film. He would immediately start his own preparatory research. For example, in Senso he handpicked painters from that era whose original paintings were to inspire the costumes. At any given moment he'd give you an idea, he would help you."

Many of Cecchi d'Amico's screenplays offer insights into the political and social history of Italy. For example, Rocco and His Brothers knits its moral conundrum into a precisely located mise-en-scène as it follows the attempts of a Southern peasant family to adjust to a new life in the North, and in doing so charts the stresses attendant upon Italy's own path to industrialization. Salvatore Siuliano, which depicts the life of the famous bandit who fought for Sicilian independence from Italy in the 1940s, is another example. It is considered a "landmark work in Italian cinema," according to Basoli. The screenwriter agreed that "it was very important. It dealt with the separatist movement in Sicily after the war, in particular the fact that Giuliano had been exploited by the separatists, and there was also the mystery of Giuliano's murder."

At the time she began writing for movies, Cecchi d'Amico was the only female Italian screenwriter. Fortunately, unlike in some other countries at the time, she never found chauvinism to be a problem. "That was almost irrelevant," she told Basoli. "There was never any hostility toward women on the part of male screenwriters. Women had simply never thought about doing it, just like they had not thought about doing a lot of things they do now." She also noted that her colleagues were actually glad to have a woman writer who could write from a feminine point of view for female characters. "It was convenient for them. These roles had always been written by men and they were only too happy that a woman could write them instead." She consequently became appreciated for writing strong female characters.

Over the years, the Italian movie industry has changed considerably, noted Cecchi d'Amico. At first, there was a great deal of camaraderie between the writers and directors, and films were easy to make cheaply. "It was a very different environment then and a much better one than it is today," she commented to Basoli, adding, "These films were very inexpensive, so we were bold and the boldness came out of knowing that no one was going to blow their brains out if the film lost money." Too, the movies of the late 1940s, when she began, were often made for political reasons. "At that time," she explained, "there were no papers—had there been newspapers or magazines, maybe many of us would have become journalists…. We were young and we wanted to tell the world what had happened to us." But today, she observed, Italian movie making is on the decline: "Distribution of Italian films in Italy has been killed by American distributors. And unfortunately, we don't have any more producers. Cinema hasn't changed, society has, and the role of cinema in society has changed. Cinema is exclusively seen as a way to make money. The situation has deteriorated so much that no one can get passionate about it."

Despite her feelings about the direction of contemporary cinema, Cecchi d'Amico continues to write, and more recent projects include an adaptation of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, which she wrote with her son. Her daughter Silvia is producing a movie based on her mother's screenplay, titled L'uomo nero ("The Boogie Man").

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Hochkofler, Matilde, and Orio Caldiron, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, scriveri du cinema, Bari, 1988.

PERIODICALS

Cineaste, fall, 2002, A. G. Basoli, "Screenwriting with Your Eyes: An Interview with Suso Cecchi d'Amico," p. 24.

New York Times, March 18, 1988, Walter Goodman, review of The Two Lives of Mattia Pascal, p. 20.

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