Cecchi D'Amico, Suso (1914—)

views updated

Cecchi D'Amico, Suso (1914—)

Italian screenwriter. Born in Rome, Italy, in 1914; daughter of Emilio Cecchi (1884–1966), producer, writer, director; married Fedele D'Amico (a music critic).


Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thief, 1948); Miracoloe a Milano (Miracle in Milan, 1950); Bellissima (1951); I vinti (The Vanquished, 1952); Siamo donne (We the Women, 1953); La signora senza camelie (Camille Without Camellias, 1953); Tempi Nostri (Anatomy of Love, 1953); Senso (1954); Peccato che sia una canaglia (Too Bad She Is Bad, 1955); Le amiche (The Girl Friend, 1955); Le notti biache (White Nights, 1957); La sfida (The Challenge, 1958); I magliari (1959); Rocco e i suoi (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960); Il lavoro (The Job, 1962); Salvatore Giuliano (1962); Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963); Taming of the Shrew (adaptation, 1964); Gli indifferenti (Time of Indifference, 1964); Vaghe stelle dell'Orsa (Sandra, 1965); Lo Straniero (The Stranger, 1967); Ludwig (1974); Cruppo di famiglia in un interno (Conversation Piece, 1974); L'innnocente (The Innocent, 1976); La Slovia (The Story, 1986); Oci ciornie (Dark Eyes, 1987).

Considered Italy's most distinguished screenwriter, Cecchi D'Amico received a classical education in which she specialized in languages, launching her career as a translator of plays. After the Second World War, she started to write screenplays, beginning with a collaboration with her father, the distinguished Emilio Cecchi, for director Renato Castellani's film Mio figlio professore (Professor, My Son). A second project in 1946, a collaboration with Luigi Zampa on Vivere in pace (To Live in Peace), brought her a Silver Ribbon (Italy's equivalent to an Academy Award).

In 1948, Cecchi D'Amico wrote the classic Italian neo-realist film called Ladri di biciclette (Bicycle Thief) for Italian auteur Vittorio De Sica. She became a writer most associated with neo-realism, the film genre that emerged from postwar Italy, as did directors De Sica, Roberto Rossellini (Open City) and Luchino Visconti (The Earth Trembles). Most notable among this film style's definable characteristics is the preference for location shooting and non-professional actors. The subjects concern matters of everyday, middle-class life with themes that express a hopefulness (attributed to the defeat of Fascism) tempered with a certain disillusionment.

Widely considered the perfect example of neo-realism, Bicycle Thief is a standard in film schools where it is used to typify the genre. The film, shot in the back alleys of postwar Rome among the working class and the poor, is the moving story of a poor man's (Ricci) struggle for survival. Ricci is offered a job on the condition that he supply his own bicycle. His hopes for employment, however, are dashed when his bicycle is stolen. While the filmmakers follow Ricci's desperate search for his bicycle, his moving relationship with his young son is revealed. In the end, Ricci is met with defeat. In the final shot, he takes his son by the hand and the two disappear into a crowd of their peers, the recently liberated people of Rome, who, released from their suffering under Fascism, are now victimized by poverty. Considered a classic, Bicycle Thief won the American Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1949.

Along with De Sica, Cecchi D'Amico has had many long-standing collaborations with the great Italian directors of the day, including Franco Zefferelli and Michelangelo Antonioni. The relationship most satisfying to her, and for which she is most known, has been with Luchino Visconti. From Bellissima, starring Anna Magnani (1951), to The Innocent (1976), Cecchi D'Amico was Visconti's most important collaborator.

Unlike some dramatic writers, Cecchi D'Amico has also written social satire and comedy, and she has worked in television. In 1989, she collaborated with director Nikita Mikhalov on the film Dark Eyes for which its star, Marcello Mastroianni, won the Best Actor award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.


Bergan, Ronald, and Robin Karney, eds. The Holt Foreign Film Guide. NY: Henry Holt, 1988.

Konigsberg, Ira. The Complete Film Dictionary. NY: Penguin Books, 1987.

Kuhn, Annette, and Susannah Radstone, eds. The Women's Companion to International Film. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1990.

Vincendeau, Ginette, ed. Encyclopedia of European Cinema. London: Cassell Press and the British Film Institute, 1995.

Deborah Jones , Studio City, California