Cecchi D'amico, Suso
CECCHI D'AMICO, Suso
Writer. Nationality: Italian. Born: Giovanna Cecchi in Rome, 21 July 1914; daughter of the writer Emilio Cecchi. Education: Studied in Rome and Cambridge. Career: Journalist; translator of English-language plays; 1946—first film as writer, Mio figlio professore; 1977—co-writer for TV mini-series Gesù di Nazareth (Jesus of Nazareth); writer for TV, Una moglie, 1987, Quattro storie di donne, 1990. Awards: Best script award, Sindicato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani, for Speriamo che sia femmina, 1986. Address: via Paisiello 27, 00198 Rome, Italy.
Films as Writer:
Mio figlio professore (Professor My Son) (Castellani); Viverein pace (To Live in Peace) (Zampa); Roma città libera (Pagliero)
Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (Flesh Will Surrender) (Lattuada); L'onorevole Angelina (Angelina) (Zampa)
Fabiola (Blasetti); Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (De Sica); Patto col diavolo (Chiarini); Cielo sulla palude (Heaven over the Marshes) (Genina)
Le mura di Malapaga (The Walls of Malapaga) (Clément) (co-sc Italian version); Prohibito rubare (Guaglio) (Comencini)
Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan) (De Sica); E primavera (It's Forever Springtime) (Castellani); E più facile che un cammello (Zampa); Romazo d'amore (Toselli) (Coletti)
Due mogli sono troppe (Honeymoon Deferred) (Camerini); Bellissima (Visconti)
"Primo amore" ep. of Altri tempi (Times Gone By) (Blasetti); Processo alla città (A Town on Trial) (Zampa); Buongiorno, elefante! (Hello Elephant!) (Franciolini); I vinti (I nostri figli) (Antonioni); Il mondo le condanna (His Last Twelve Hours) (Franciolini)
Siamo donne (We the Women) (Visconti); "Il pupo" ep. of Tempi nostri (Anatomy of Love) (Blassetti); Febbre di vivere (Gora); La signora senza camelie (Camille without Camelias) (Antonioni); Cento anni d'amore (de Felice)
Graziella (Bianchi); Senso (Visconti); L'allegro squadrone (Moffa); Peccato che sia una canaglia (Too Bad She's Bad) (Blasetti); Proibito (Monicelli)
Le amiche (The Girlfriends) (Antonioni)
La fortuna di essere donna (Blasetti); La finestra sul Luna Park (Comencini); Kean (Gassman); Difendo il mio amore (Sherman) (co)
Le notti bianche (White Nights) (Visconti); Mariti in città (Comencini)
Nella città l'inferno (And the Wild, Wild Women) (Castellani); La sfida (The Challenge) (Rosi); I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (Monicelli)
Estate violenta (Violent Summer) (Zurlini); I magliari (Rosi)
La contessa azzurra (Gora); Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers) (Visconti); Risate di gioia (The Passionate Thief) (Monicelli); It Started in Naples (Shavelson)
Salvatore Giuiliano (Rosi); Il relitto (The Wastrel) (Cacoyannis); I due nemici (The Best of Enemies) (Hamilton)
"Il lavoro" ("The Job") and "Renzo e Luciana" ("Renzo and Luciana") eps. of Boccaccio '70 (Visconti and Monicelli); "Le Lièvre et la tortue" ("The Tortoise and the Hare") ep. of Les Quatre Vérités (Three Fables of Love) (Blasetti)
Il gattopardo (The Leopard) (Visconti); Gli indifferenti (Time of Indifference) (Maselli)
Casanova '70 (Monicelli); Vaghe stelle dell'orsa (Sandra) (Visconti)
Io, io, io . . . e gli altri (Blasetti); "Queen Armenia" ep. of Le fate (The Queens) (Monicelli); Spara forte, più forte . . . non capisco (Shout Loud, Louder . . . I Don't Understand) (De Filippo); The Taming of the Shrew (Zeffirelli)
Lo straniero (The Stranger) (Visconti); L'uomo, l'orgoglio, la vendetta (Man, Pride and Vengeance) (Bazzoni)
Metello (Bolognini); Infanzia, vocazione, e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, Veneziano (Comencini); Senza sapere nulla di lei (Comencini)
La mortadella (Lady Liberty) (Monicelli)
Pinocchio (Comencini—for TV); Fratello sole, sorella luna (Brother Sun, Sister Moon) (Zeffirelli); Il diavolo nel cervello (Sollima); I figli chiedono perche (Zanchin)
Ludwig (Visconti); Amore e ginnastica (L. F. d'Amico)
Gruppo di famiglia in un interno (Conversation Piece) (Visconti); Prete, fai un miracolo (Chiari); Amore amaro (Vancini) (co)
L'innocente (The Innocent) (Visconti); Caro Michele (Monicelli); Dimmi che fai tutto per mei (Festa Campanile)
La velia (Ferrero)
Lighea (Tuzii) (co); Les Mots pour le dire (Pinheiro) (co)
Cuore (Comencini—for TV); Uno scandale per bene (Festa Campanile); Bertoldo, Bertoldino e Cacasenno (Monicelli) (co)
Le due vite di Mattia Pascal (Monicelli) (co)
I soliti ignoti vent'anni dopo (Big Deal on Madonna Street. . . 20 Years Later) (Todini) (co); Speriamo che sia femmina (Let's Hope It's a Girl) (Monicelli) (co); La storia (Comencini) (co)
L'inchiesta (Damiani) (co); Oci ciornie (Dark Eyes) (Mikhalkov) (co); I picari (Monicelli)
Ti presento un'amica (Massaro)
Stradivari (Battiato) (co)
Il male oscuro (Monicelli); Rossini, Rossini (Monicelli)
Parenti serpenti (Monicelli) (co)
La fine e nota (Cristina Comencini); Cari fottutissimi amici (Monicelli) (co)
Facciamo paradiso (Monicelli)
Bruno aspetta in macchina (Bruno is Waiting on the Car) (Camerini)
La Stanza dello scirocco (The Room of the Scirocco) (Sciarra); Der Letzte Sommer-Wenn Du nicht willst (Pucitta)
Panni sporchi (Monicelli); Un Amico magico: il maestro Nino Rota (Monicelli); Il Dolce cinema (Scorsese—for TV)
Il Cielo Cade (The Sky Will Fall)
By CECCHI D'AMICO: books—
(Translator with Emilio Cecchi) Otello in Teatro, by Shakespeare, vol. 3, Florence, 1961.
With others, Bicycle Thieves (script), London, 1968, as The Bicycle Thief, New York, 1968.
With others, Miracle in Milan (script), New York, 1968.
With Luchino Visconti, Senso and La terra trema (scripts), in Two Screenplays, New York, 1970.
With others, The Job, Rocco and His Brothers, and White Nights (scripts), in Three Screenplays, New York, 1970.
By CECCHI D'AMICO: articles—
Positif (Paris), September 1985.
Revista del Cinematografo, vol. 62, September 1992.
Revista del Cinematografo, vol. 63, 1993.
EPD Film (Frankfurt/Main), April 1993.
CinémAction (Conde-sur-Noireau), January 1994.
On CECCHI D'AMICO: book—
Hochkofler, Matilde, and Orio Caldiron, Suso Cecchi d'Amico, scriveri du cinema, Bari, 1988.
On CECCHI D'AMICO: articles—
Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1986–87.
Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 2, 1989.
Iskussstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 5, 1997.
* * *
Suso Cecchi d'Amico is undoubtedly best known as Visconti's regular scriptwriter, however her work, either alone or in collaboration, with a large number of other directors is at the core of a long list of films which embodies the development of postwar Italian cinema from Blasetti to De Sica, from Rosi to Zeffirelli and Antonioni. It is undoubtedly a tribute to her work that her scripts achieve a certain "transparency," becoming all-but-inextricable from the finished film itself.
She has all too modestly described her work as akin to that of the artisan. This emphasizes her professionalism, the literate well-craftedness of her scripts, and her endless adaptability to the contrasting needs of filmmakers working within competing stylistic conventions. It glosses over the acuteness of her appraisal of particular projects and particular directors. Luigi Comencini may be no great stylist, as she has remarked, his films stand or fall by their overall effect. Cuore is a tender and ironic melodrama but anchored cogently to moments in Italian history. Zampa may be a minor talent but with Vivere in pace Cecchi d'Amico wrote to the project's integrity and antiheroic pacifism. Her script gives Genina's strange melodrama about a peasant girl's rape and subsequent sanctification, Heaven over the Marshes, a much-needed steely quality.
Writing for De Sica made other demands. Cecchi d'Amico has spoken of his need "to borrow from and reproduce" reality, a need that predated any theorization of neorealism. The moral catch-22 behind The Bicycle Thief lends De Sica's slice-of-life a bitter edge. Her collaboration with Francesco Rosi has been equally rewarding. A trial transcript provided the source for Salvatore Giuliano's script, the framework for a film of epic dimension honed from events both sordid and sadly routine. But where she worked with a director whose own drive was towards honing away excesses and revealing a structure, the results were less happy. Where Antonioni saw his films as the bare rendition of reality, Cecchi d'Amico saw contemporary fables.
It was the opportunity posed by working for Visconti with his concern for the firm location of characters within a specific time, place, and history that drew from her her best work. She has said that his clarity of vision and sureness made him an easy person to work for, and there is an obvious complementarity between her spareness and Visconti's rhetorical visual style. Initial efforts for him required copious pruning to adapt them to his particular "cinematic rhythm." So completely did Visconti make his projects his own that they escape the category of "literary adaptation," and are rewritten and reformed to his own vision. Where a subject interested him but a suitable text could not be found, Cecchi d'Amico has spoken of the preparation of a script only after a considerable amount of research had been done. Even a contemporary subject might have a literary analogue. Thus Dostoyevsky was a touchstone for Rocco and His Brothers.
Rocco, an original story, 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. The script's major coup is the withholding of an explicit statement of the immigrant's code of morality until the final section, where it acquires an especially revelatory force, marking a passage from the certainties of an agrarian society, to notions of compromise embodied in a trade-off between rights and duties. The concern for morality and betrayal, personal and national history present here also underlie many of her other projects for Visconti, The Innocent, Senso, Ludwig, and Conversation Piece.
The same concerns give her extraordinary gallery of female characters a memorable distinctiveness. Often transgressive they are always true to their time and place and never airbrushed into stereotype. Another consistent thread has been her collaborations with Monicelli, a director known for his humorously ironic tales of bourgeois life. The recent Il male oscuro was scripted with Tonino Guerra from a prizewinning sixties novel (translated as Incubus in the United States) by Giuseppe Berto. It studies the relationships between a mediocre writer undergoing analysis, his younger wife, and his obsessive, ambivalent relationship with his father. The family theme is continued with Parenti serpenti, also made in the nineties, an examination of the tensions that arise as three generations of an extended family attempt Christmas together. Humor and irony also underlie her contributions to the script for Mikhalkov's Oci ciornie.
Her experience of writing a supposedly "Ben Hecht" script for Wyler's Roman Holiday (she took the job out of admiration for the director), which involved stringing together a series of banal generic elements, merely confirmed her observations of the wholly pernicious effect of Hollywood's postwar incursion into Italian filmmaking. (The Italian industry was, in her opinion, to be destroyed and the country opened up as a market for U.S. product.) There were other international co-productions occasionally; the Taylor-Burton The Taming of the Shrew for which her early experience as a translator into Italian of English literature might have, in part, prepared her, and on which she worked with Paul Dehn. But her preoccupations lay elsewhere. Cecchi d'Amico has always believed in the necessity of developing a national cinema that would "tell its own stories." It has been an unstinting dedication to this principle which underlies her work.