Thursday, November 11, 2010

RIP Dino De Laurentis

Dino De Laurentiis, the flamboyant Italian movie producer who helped resurrect his country's film industry after World War II and for more than six decades produced films as diverse as the 1954 Federico Fellini classic “La Strada” and the 1976 remake of “King Kong,” has died. He was 91. De Laurentiis, who moved to the United States in the 1970s, died in Los Angeles, Italian media reported Thursday morning. In the 1950s, he produced two Oscar-winning best foreign films — Fellini's “La Strada” (with then-partner Carlo Ponti) and Fellini's “Nights of Cabiria” (1957).

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).


  1. I thought his company was called Cinecitta, or am I thinking of something else?

  2. Cinecitta was a film studio. It was founded in 1937 by Benito Mussolini and headed by Luigi Freddi. The Italian government privatized it in the 1980s. A fire in 2007 destroyed 32,000 square feet of the lot and surroundings. "Gangs of New York" was filmed there in 2002.