Thursday, November 11, 2010

RIP, Mr. De Laurentiis

Oh, how I love an impresario, as they seem to be a dying breed in this era of bean counters and pencil pushers.

Then suddenly (well, he was 91 and had cancer, so the "suddenly" is hyperbole. Something with which Mr. De Laurentiis was familiar), with his passing, came the end of an era. His IMDB page lists 166 producer credits covering a span of a mind-boggling 70 years. I'm pretty sure that sort of career is simply not possible in these days of bloat and turnaround. Not that Mr. De Laurentiis wasn't one of the inventors of what we now know, loathe and line for each summer as the producer of Flash Gordon, Conan: The Barbarian (starring the current Governor of California), King Kong (the one from the 70s), and Dune. So some of the responsibility for that bloat lies at his Gucci loafers.

He produced nearly every kind of movie imaginable. From one of my all time favorites, Fellini's Nights of Cabiria starring the brilliant, brilliant Giulietta Masina, Italian neo-realist classic Bitter Rice, cheapie schlock like Goliath and the Vampires (as always, I use the phrase "cheapie schlock" with love), and Barbarella. And then, in America, he continued to produce all kinds of different films, from arty prestige pictures like Blue Velvet and Ragtime to Charles Bronson fare like Death Wish to Hanibal Lecter's first outing in Manhunter. Subtlety really, really wasn't his bag. I hope his funeral will be operatic in scope. May there be vampires and gangsters and space invaders and explosions! And maybe the ghost of Ms. Masina doing a sad little dance as she smiles slightly with her wonderful clown face, as she leads the great impresario off the the movie studio in the great beyond.

P.S. In researching this I just discovered that Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame is his grand-daughter! Who knew?

No comments: