Thursday, November 11, 2010
RIP Dino De Laurentis
In 1962, the prolific producer began building a sprawling studio complex on the outskirts of Rome that he called Dinocitta — Dino City. During the 1960s — he is credited with pioneering the now-common practice of financing films by pre-selling the distribution rights in foreign countries — De Laurentiis produced films such as director Richard Fleischer's “Barabbas,” starring Anthony Quinn; John Huston's star-studded “The Bible”; and Roger Vadim's “Barbarella,” starring Jane Fonda. After selling his studio and moving to the United States in the 1970s, De Laurentiis produced films such as “Serpico,” “Death Wish,” “Three Days of the Condor,” “The Serpent's Egg,” “Ragtime” and “Conan the Barbarian.” But De Laurentiis' name also became synonymous with expensive box-office failures such as “Dune,” “Tai-Pan” and “King Kong Lives.” The son of a pasta manufacturer, he was born Agostino De Laurentiis on Aug. 8, 1919, in Torre Annunziata, some 17 miles from Naples. One of seven children, he dropped out of school at 15 and traveled as a salesman for his father's pasta factory. But he wasn't enamored of the family business. He worked for a time as an extra, stagehand, electrician and director's assistant before changing his first name from Agostino to Dino and launching a production company.
De Laurentis produced five Euro-westerns: "Navajo Joe" (1966), "The Hills Run Red" (1966), "A Man Called Sledge" (1970), "The Deserter" (1971) and "Chino" (1973).