Producer. Nationality: French. Born: Magenta, Milan, Italy, 11 December 1910 (some sources say 1912); became French citizen, 1964. Education: Studied law: degree. Family: Married 1) the
actress Sophia Loren, 1957 (second marriage) (annulled, 1962), sons: Carlo Jr. and Eduardo; 2) Sophia Loren, 1966. Career: Producer from early 1940s; 1950–57—in partnership with Dino De Laurentiis; then international producer; 1979—complications concerning divorce/remarriage resulted in four-year jail sentence by Italian court on currency violation, but as French citizen could not be extradited; 1988—producer of TV mini-series Mario Puzo's The Fortunate Pilgrim.
Films as Producer:
Sissignora (Poppioli); Piccolo mondo antico (Old-Fashioned World) (Soldati)
Giacoma l'idealista (Lattuada)
Due lettere anonime (Camerini)
La freccia nel fianco (Lattuada)
Un Americano in vacanza (A Yank in Rome) (Zampa); Vivere in Pace (To Live in Peace) (Zampa); La primula bianca (Bragaglia)
I miserabili (Freda); Gioventù perduta (Lost Youth) (Germi)
Senza pietà (Without Pity) (Lattuada)
Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po) (Lattuada); Fuga in Francia (Soldati); Campane a martello (Children of Change) (Zampa); Quel bandito sono io! (Soldati); L'imperatore di Capri (Comencini)
Cuori senza fontiere (The White Line) (Zampa); Totò cerca casa (Toto Wants a Home) (Steno and Monicelli); Vita di cani (Steno and Monicelli); E arrivato il cavaliere (Steno and Monicelli); Il brigante Musolini (Camerini)
Europa '51 (Rossellini); Anna (Lattuada)
Anni facili (Easy Years) (Zampa)
Un giorno in pretura (A Day in Court) (Steno) (co-exec); Un Americano a Roma (Steno); La strada (Fellini); Ulisse (Ulysses) (Camerini)
Attila flagello di dio (Attila the Hun) (Francisci); Ragazze d'oggi (Zampa); L'ultimo amante (De Benedetti); Mambo (Rossen); L'oro di Napoli (Gold of Naples) (De Sica); La donna del fiume (Soldati); La bella mugnaia (The Miller's Beautiful Daughter) (Camerini)
War and Peace (K. Vidor); La risaia (Rice Girl) (Matarazzo); Il ferroviere (The Railroad Man) (Germi); La diciottenni (Mattòli); Peccato di castità (Franciolini); Guendalina (Lattuada); Le notti di Cabiria (Cabiria) (Fellini)
Nata di marzo (Pietrangeli); Susanna tutta panna (Steno); Femmine tre volte (Steno); Marisa la civetta (Bolognini); Camping (Zeffirelli)
The Black Orchid (Ritt); That Kind of Woman (Lumet)
Heller in Pink Tights (Cukor); Lettere di una novizia (Rita) (Lattuada); La ciociara (Two Women) (De Sica); A Breath of Scandal (Olympia) (Curtiz)
Lola (Demy); Une Femme est une femme (A Woman Is a Woman) (Godard)
L'isola di Arturo (Arturo's Island) (Damiani); Cléo de 5 à 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7) (Varda) (co-exec); L'Oeil du malin (The Third Lover) (Chabrol); Boccaccio '79 (Fellini and others); I sequestri di Altona (The Condemned of Altona) (De Sica)
Landru (Bluebeard) (Chabrol); Le Doulos (Doulos—the Finger Man) (Melville); Le Mépris (Contempt) (Godard);La noia (The Empty Canvas) (Damiani); Ieri, oggi, e domani (Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow) (De Sica); Les Carabiniers (Godard)
Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style) (De Sica); La donna scimmia (The Ape Woman) (Ferreri)
Operation Crossbow (Anderson); Casanova '70 (Monicelli); Doctor Zhivago (Lean); La decima vittima (The Tenth Victim) (Petri); Lady L (Ustinov); Oggi, domani, e dopodomani (De Filippo—English-language version Kiss the Other Sheik, additional scenes directed by Salce; section directed by Ferreri released as The Man with the Balloons)
Blow-Up (Antonioni); Ostre sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains) (Menzel)
La ragazze e il generale (The Girl and the General) (Festa Campanile); C'era una volta (More than a Miracle) (Rosi); Smashing Time (Davis); Questi fantasmi (Ghosts—Italian Style) (Castellani); La Vingt-cinquième Heure (The 25th Hour; La 25e Heure) (Verneuil); A Countess from Hong Kong (Chaplin)
Gli amanti (A Place for Lovers) (De Sica); O Slavnosti a hostech (A Report on the Party and the Guests) (Nemec)
I girasoli (Sunflower) (De Sica)
Zabriskie Point (Antonioni)
La moglie del prete (The Priest's Wife) (Risi); La mortadella (Lady Liberty) (Monicelli)
Che? (What?) (Polanski); Rappresaglia (Massacre in Rome) (Cosmatos)
Bianco, rosso, e . . . (White Sister) (Lattuada); I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale (Torso) (Martino); Il viaggio (The Voyage) (De Sica)
Le Testament (Jury of One; The Verdict) (Cayatte); Brief Encounter (Bridges); Poopsie (Gun Moll) (Capitani); Carne per Frankenstein (Andy Warhol's Frankenstein) (Morrissey); Dracula cerca sangue di vergine e . . . mori di sete!!! (Andy Warhol's Dracula) (Morrissey and Dawson)
L'infermiera (The Nurse; I Will If You Will) (Rossati); Professione: Reporter (The Passenger) (Antonioni); Le Baby-Sitter (Wanted: Babysitter) (Clément)
Brutti, sporchi, cattivi (Down and Dirty) (Scola)
The Cassandra Crossing (Cosmatos); Una giornata particolare (A Special Day) (Scola)
Running Away; Sabato, Domenica e Lunedi (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) (Wertmüller)
Liv (Edoardo Ponti)
By PONTI: articles—
"Ponti on Producers," in Today's Cinema, 12 May 1970. Film Français (Paris), 11 June 1976.
On PONTI: article—
Screen International (London), 22 November 1975.
* * *
Although he produced some light comedies in the early 1940s, Carlo Ponti's reputation as a producer fortuitously coincided with the rise of Italian neorealism from 1943 to 1950. He produced serious films by Germi, Lattuada, and Zampa, including A Yank in Rome, which established the latter as a major director. In 1950 he joined with Dino De Laurentiis to form a partnership that lasted until 1957, when both men went on to produce films independently. While partners, they produced important films by directors who would achieve international reputations—Roberto Rossellini's Europa '51, Federico Fellini's La strada, and his Cabiria—as well as the critically acclaimed War and Peace by veteran director King Vidor, and Mambo by Robert Rossen. Following the breakup of the partnership, Ponti became more of an international producer. American directors George Cukor, Sidney Lumet, Martin Ritt, and Michael Curtiz had films produced by Ponti during the 1960s; each film starred Sophia Loren, Ponti's wife since 1957.
Although Ponti had encouraged other Italian film actresses, among them Gina Lollobrigida, Ponti's career after 1957 was, for the most part, tied closely to Sophia Loren. She had a bit part in Anna, a Ponti-De Laurentiis production, and subsequently appeared regularly in Ponti productions, although her best film was Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, which won Loren an Oscar in an uncharacteristic performance. Loren, who by her own admission, had played in "confectionery parts" during her "English-speaking film odyssey," was induced by De Sica to play the role of the mother after Anna Magnani not only refused it, but sarcastically suggested that Loren, then aged 26, should play the mother rather than her intended role as the daughter. Loren has suggested that before the film she was a "performer," but the film made her an "actress." Unfortunately for Loren, her post-Two Women career under Ponti's guidance was, with the exception of A Countess from Hong Kong and A Special Day, mostly comprised of less-than-memorable Italian sex comedies and ponderous Mann epics.
Many of Ponti's films made without Loren after 1960 were Franco-Italian films which were noted for big stars, large budgets, lush settings, and romantic sentimentality, but he also produced some remarkable films by major directors: Godard's political films and Antonioni's Blow-Up, Zabriskie Point, and The Passenger. In addition, there were films by Agnès Varda, Claude Chabrol, De Sica, and Polanski—there were few major directors who did not work with Ponti. During this period he also produced David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, a popular award-winning film ideally suited to Ponti's sensibility. After 1970 Ponti produced few quality films, with the notable exception of The Passenger, and the careers of Ponti and Loren were in decline. His work included a film for television, Paul Morrissey's films about Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Dracula, and some unsuccessful attempts in 1977 to produce some Brazilian films. At about the same time he and Loren came under investigation about currency transfers in Italy. Ponti left Italy but was convicted; Loren was acquitted of the charges.
In 1981 Italy dropped his arrest warrant but left some charges pending. His legal problems occupied much of his time, and between 1977 and 1988, he did not produce any films. Of the three works he produced between 1988 and 1991, only one—directed by Lina Wertmüller, herself past her filmmaking peak—is noteworthy. During his lifetime, however, he produced major films by major directors, helped bring Italian and French films international recognition, and guided the career of a prolific film performer. His career essentially has reflected the rise of neorealism and the French New Wave—in fact, he helped develop both movements. His influence as a producer of Italian films was second only to that of De Laurentiis, and his is a lasting contribution to international cinema.
—Thomas L. Erskine