Nationality: Italian. Born: Rome, 1 November 1905. Family: Married Beatrice Rocchi, two children (twins). Career: 1931—began stage work as comedian in variety theater; 1930s—dialect comedy on radio and in music halls; 1942—film debut in Avanti c'è posto; 1949—directed the film Emigrantes. Died: In Rome, 2 April 1990.
Films as Actor:
Avanti c'è posto (Zampa) (as Cesare, + co-story)
Campo dei fiori (The Peddlar and the Lady) (Bonnard) (as Peppino); L'ultima carrozzella (Mattoli) (as Toto)
Circo equestre Za-Bum (Mattolli)
Roma, città aperta (Rome, Open City; Open City) (Rossellini) (as Don Pietro)
Mio figlio professore (Professor My Son) (Castellani); Vivere in pace (To Live in Peace) (Zampa) (+ co-sc)
Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (Flesh Will Surrender) (Lattuada) (+ co-sc); Tombola, paradiso nero (Ferroni)
Natale al campo 119 (Escape into Dreams) (Francisci) (+ co-sc)
Antonio di Padova (Anthony of Padua) (Francisci)
Prima comunione (Father's Dilemma) (Blasetti); Francesco—giullare di Dio (Flowers of St. Francis) (Rossellini) (as Nikolai); Vita di cani (It's a Dog's Life) (Monicelli and Steno)
Guardie e ladri (Cops and Robbers) (Monicelli and Steno) (+ sc); Parigi è sempre Parigi (Emmer); Signori in carrozzo (Zampa) (+ sc); Tre passi a nord (Three Steps North) (W. L. Wilder); Cameriera bella presenza offresi (Pastina)
"Il carrettino dei libri vecchi," ep. of Altri tempi (Times Gone By; In Olden Days; Infidelity) (Blasetti); Cinque poveri in automobile (The Lucky Five) (Mattoli); La voce del silenzio (Pabst)
L'età dell'amore (De Felice); Siamo tutti inquilini (Mattoli); Cose da pazzi (Pabst)
"Garibaldina" ep. of Cento anni d'amore (De Felice)
Accadde al penitenziario (Bianchi); Carosello di varietà; I due compari (Borghesio); Io piaccio (Bianchi)
Donatella (Monicelli); Guardia, guardia scelta, brigadiere e maresciallo (Bolognini); Mi permette, babbo? (Bonnard); I pappagalli (Paolinelli); Un po' di cielo (Moser)
Festa di maggio (Premier May) (Saslavsky)
I prepotenti (Mattoli)
Fernando I, re di Napoli (Franciolini); Prepotenti più di prima (Mattoli); I tartassati (The Overtaxed) (Steno); La sposa bella (The Angel Wore Red) (Johnson)
Un militare e mezzo (Steno); Totó, Fabrizi e i giovani d'oggi (Mattoli)
Gerarchi si muore (Simonelli); Le meraviglie di Aladino (The Wonders of Aladdin) (Levin) (as Sultan); Orazi e Curiazi (Duel of Champions) (Young and Baldi); I quattro monaci; Twist, ninfette e vitelloni (Firolami)
I quattro moschettieri (Bragaglia); Totò contro i quattro (Vanzina)
Fra Manisco cerca quai (Tamburella); "I quattro tassisti" ep. of La donna è una cosa meravigliosa (Bolognini)
Made in Italy (Loy)
Sette monaci d'oro (Rossi)
Three Bites of the Apple (Ganzer) (as Doctor)
Cose di Cosa Nostra (The Godson) (Steno)
La Tosca (Magni); Non toccate la donna bianca (Touche pas la femme blanche) (Ferreri)
Permettete che ami vostre figlia? (Madam, Permit Me to Love Your Daughter; Claretta and Ben) (Polidoro); C'eravamo tanti amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much; Those Were the Years) (Scola); I baroni (Lomi)
Il ginecologo della mutua (Ladies Doctor) (D'Amato)
Giovanni Senzapensieri (Colli)
Films as Director:
Emigrantes (+ sc, ro)
Benvenuto reverendo! (+ sc, ro)
La famiglia Passaguai (+ sc, ro)
La Famiglia Passaguai fa fortuna (+ sc, ro); Papa diventa Mamma (+ sc, ro)
Una di quelle (+ sc, ro)
"Marsini stretta" ep. of Questa è la vita (Of Life and Love) (+ sc, ro)
Hanno rubato un tram (+ sc, ro)
Il maestro (The Teacher and the Miracle) (+ pr, co-sc, ro as Giovanni Merino)
By FABRIZI: article—
Interview in Cinémonde (Paris), 19 September 1952.
On FABRIZI: articles—
Obituary, in Variety (New York), 11 April 1990.
"Aldo Fabrizi: L'amoureux parfait de Rome," in Ciné Revue (Paris), 24 May 1990.
Worschech, Rudolf, "Aldo Fabrizi: 1.11.1905—2.4.1990," an obituary in, EPD Film (Frankfurt), May 1990.
Obituary, in Skoop June 1990.
"The End," an obituary in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), July/ August 1990.
* * *
Aldo Fabrizi started out as a comedian in the variety theater in the 1930s. On radio and in the music hall, he specialized in dialect comedy, and this led to his first film efforts. These films, such as Avanti c'è posto, Campo dei fiori, and L'ultima carrozzella, were all comedies devoted to the everyday life of poor but honest folk. Fabrizi's portrayal of a bus conductor, a market vendor, and a coachman, respectively, brought his sanguine persona and his ability at comic mugging to the attention of the public.
The potential danger of becoming stereotyped by such roles was overcome by his dramatic and heartrending portrayal of Don Pietro in Open City. He plays a Catholic priest who fights in the Resistance and who displays unshakable faith, immense courage, and compassion towards both his companions and his torturers even until his execution. Not only was it a brilliant performance, the best of his career, but the film inaugurated the critical success of neorealism around the world, and broke box-office records.
Fabrizi continued to exert an enormous influence over the development of Italian neorealist acting in Professor My Son and To Live in Peace, another international success. Alessandro Blasetti used him as the harried, inept father in Father's Dilemma while, in the same year, Rossellini used Fabrizi's corpulence and grotesque qualities for the tribal chieftain Nikolai in Flowers of St. Francis.
In the 1950s, Fabrizi began directing and continued his scriptwriting career although films written or directed by him have not received much critical attention in Italy. Even his acting roles in the 1950s and 1960s were in films that were rarely distributed internationally. More recently, Fabrizi allowed himself to lose control over his delivery and often deteriorated into cheap and vulgar humor. Because of his enormous body, he tended to be cast as exaggeratedly grotesque characters. Ettore Scola paid homage to Fabrizi's contribution to the Italian cinema in We All Loved Each Other So Much.