Nationality: Italian. Born: Milan, 13 November 1914. Educated in architecture. Family: Married Carla Del Poggio, 1945 (divorced). Career: Co-founder of avant-garde journal Camminare, 1933; helped found Corrente; with Mario Ferreri and Luigi Comencini, founder of Cineteca Italiana, Italian film archive, 1940; directed first film, 1942; opera director, from 1970. Address: Via N. Paganini, 7 Rome, Italy.
Films as Director and Co-Scriptwriter:
La freccia nel fianco; La nostra guerra (documentary)
Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo (Flesh Will Surrender)
Senza pietà (Without Pity)
Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po)
Luci del varietà (Variety Lights) (co-d, co-pr)
Anna; Il cappotto (The Overcoat)
La lupa (The She-Wolf); "Gli italiani si voltano" episode of Amore in città (Love in the City)
La spiaggia (The Beach); Scuola elementare
La tempesta (Tempest)
I dolci inganni; Lettere di una novizia (Rita)
Mafioso; La steppa
La mandragola (The Love Root)
Don Giovanni in Sicilia (+ co-pr)
Venga a prendere il caffe . . . da noi (Come Have Coffeewith Us)
Bianco, rosso e . . . (White Sister)
Sono stato io
Le farò da padre . . . (Bambina)
Cuore di cane; Bruciati da cocente passione (Oh Serafina!)
Cosi come sei
Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus)
Una spina nel cuore (+ sc)
Il museo dell'amore (asst d)
La danza delle lancette (collaborator on experimental short)
Piccolo mondo antico (Soldati) (asst d)
Si signora (asst d, co-sc)
Un eroe dei nostri tempi (Monicelli) (role)
Il Toro (The Bull) (Mazzacurati) (role)
By LATTUADA: books—
Occhio quadrate, album of photos, Milan, 1941.
La tempesta, Bologna, 1958.
La steppa, Bologna, 1962.
Gli uccelli indomabili, Rome, 1970.
Cuore di cane, Bari, 1975.
A proposito di Cosi come sei, edited by Enrico Oldrini, Bologna, 1978.
Diario di un grane amatore, Milan, 1980.
Feuillets au vent, Paris, 1981.
La massa, Rome, 1982.
La luna be partita, Calcata, 1992.
By LATTUADA: articles—
"We Took the Actors into the Streets," in Films and Filming (London), April 1959.
"Alberto Lattuada: du néoréalisme au réalisme magique," interview with A. Tournès, in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), December/January 1974/75.
"Moi et le diable: je ne puis vivre ni avec toi ni sans toi," in Positif (Paris), June 1978.
Interview with G. Volpi, in Positif (Paris), September and October 1978.
"Alberto Lattuada: une foi dans la beauté," interview with C. Depuyper and A. Cervoni, in Cinéma (Paris), April 1981.
Interview with L. Codelli, in Films and Filming (London), July 1982.
"Conversazione con Alberto Lattuada," interview with G. Turroni, in Filmcritica (Rome), June 1991.
Interview with Peter von Bagh, in Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 3, 1992.
Article, in Cinema Nuovo (Bari), January/February 1993.
Interview with C. Cartier, in Cineaction (Toronto), no. 70, 1994.
"Un film, un realisateur, deux comediennes," in Positif (Paris), June 1994.
"La mauvaise éducation en Italie," in Positif (Paris), March 1998.
On LATTUADA: books—
De Sanctis, Filippo Mario, Alberto Lattuada, Parma, 1961, and Lyons, 1965.
Bruno, Edoardo, Lattuada o la proposta ambigua, Rome, 1968.
Broher, J.J., Alberto Lattuada, Brussels, 1971.
Turroni, Giuseppe, Alberto Lattuada, Milan, 1977.
Zanellato, Angelo, L'uomo: il cinema di Lattuada, Padua, 1978.
Bruno, Edoardo, Italian Directors: Alberto Lattuada, Rome, 1981.
Camerini, Claudio, Alberto Lattuada, Florence, 1982.
Cosulich, Callisto, I film di Alberto Lattuada, Rome, 1985.
Bondanella, Peter, Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present, New York, 1993.
Smith, Geoffrey N., editor, The Companion to Italian Cinema, New York, 1996.
On LATTUADA: articles—
Turroni, G., "Film e figurazione: la riflessione metalinguistica," in Filmcritica (Rome), January 1979.
Duval, Bernard, "Lattuada: un précursor perpetuel," in Image et Son (Paris), July 1979.
"Alberto Lattuada," in Film Dope (London), November 1985.
Cartier, Clarice, "A l'origine: le fascisme et la guerre: entretien avec Alberto Lattuada," in Cinémaction (Courbevoie), January 1994.
* * *
One of the most consistently commercially successful directors in Italy, Alberto Lattuada has continued to enjoy a freedom of subject matter and style despite ideological shifts and methodological changes. His main films during the neorealist period, which he claims never to have taken part in, succeeded in further establishing the Italian cinema in the international market and, unlike many of his colleagues' works, also proved popular in the domestic market. Il bandito and Il mulino del Po, for example, combined progressive ideology, realistic detail (due to location shooting and attention to quotidian activities), and tight narrative structure through careful attention to editing. In fact, Lattuada's entire career has demonstrated an ongoing interest in editing, which he considers more fundamental than the script and which gives his films a strictly controlled rhythm with no wasted footage. He shoots brief scenes that, he claims, are more attractive to an audience and that can be easily manipulated at the editing stage.
Lattuada's background stressed the arts, and his films display a sophisticated cultural appreciation. As a boy, he took an active interest in his father's musicianship in the orchestra of La Scala in Milan. As a young man, Lattuada worked as a film critic, wrote essays on contemporary painters, co-founded cultural magazines, and worked as an assistant director and scriptwriter. Lattuada co-scripts most of his films and occasionally produces them. He also co-founded what became the Milan film archive, the Cineteca Italiana.
As a director, Lattuada is often called eclectic because of his openness to projects and his ability to handle a wide variety of subject matter. His major commercial successes have been Bianco, rosso e . . . , which he wrote especially for Sophia Loren; Matchless, a parody of the spy genre; Anna, the first Italian film to gross over one billion lire in its national distribution; La spiaggia, a bitter satire of bourgeois realism; and Mafioso, starring Alberto Sordi and filmed in New York, Sicily, and Milan.
Lattuada has also filmed many adaptations of literary works that remain faithful to the original but are never simply static reenactments. These range from the comically grotesque Venga a prendere . . . ; a version of Brancati's satirical Don Giovanni in Sicilia; the horror film Cuore di cane, taken from a Bulgakov novel; the spectacular big-budget La tempesta, from two Pushkin stories; and Chekhov's metaphorical journey in La steppa. His 1952 version of The Overcoat is considered his masterpiece for its portrayal of psychological states and the excellence of Renato Rascel's performance. Lattuada is famous for his handling of actors, and has launched the career of many an actress, including Catherine Spaak, Giulietta Masina and Nastassia Kinski.
Notwithstanding the diversity of subject matter he has directed, Lattuada's main interest has been pubescent sexuality, the passage of a girl into womanhood, and the sexual relationship of a couple as the primary attraction they have for each other. Thus, his films deal with eroticism as a central theme and he chooses actresses whose physical beauty and sensuousness are immediately apparent. This motif appeared in Lattuada's work as early as his second feature and has been his main preoccupation in his films since 1974.
His films have been critically well received in Italy, although rarely given the attention enjoyed by some of his contemporaries. In France, however, his work is highly acclaimed; Il bandito and Il cappotto received much praise at the Cannes festivals when they were shown. With a few exceptions, his more recent work is little known in Britain and the United States, although when Come Have Coffee with Us was released commercially in the United States ten years after it was made, it enjoyed a fair success at the box office and highly favorable reviews.