Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Remembering Giorgio Simonelli

Giorgio C. Simonelli was born on November 23, 1901 in Rome, Italy. After receiving his diploma in business, Simonelli became a journalist and began writing film critics in journals like Gente nostra and Avvenimento while still a young man. In 1928, at the age of 27, he collaborated with Nicola Fausto Neroni in directing "Maratona", and two years later he was among the writers of the first Italian film made with sound, "La canzone dell’amore", directed by G. Righelli. After serving as an assistant to both Righelli and Guido Brignone, by 1934 he was occupied mainly as an editor, working on films for directors like Pasinetti, Alessandrini, Mastrocinque, Gallone and others. In the same period he was appointed by Emilio Cecchi (the director of Cines) to produce the official film magazine of the company, which covered topical events of the previous year. In the 1940s he moved into directing, while still continuing his other activities, specializing in comedies and achieving some success with films starring the likes of Toto, the De Filippo brothers, Taranto, Rascek, Chiari, Tognazzi, Macario, Sordi and Fabrizi. He concluded his career with a series of films starring Franco & Ciccio. During his career he directed and wrote the screenplays for five Euro-westerns including "A Dollar of Fear" (1960), "The Magnificent Three" (1961) and three Franco & Ciccio westerns; "Two Mafiamen in the Far West" (1964), "Two Sergeants of General Custer" and "Ringo’s Two Sons" (both 1966). Simonelli died on October 3, 1966 in Rome, having made over 60 films, many of which were box office successes, and being an important figure in the establishment of the Italian film industry. He was survived by his son Giovanni (who became an extremely prolific screenwriter). Curiously, he also received a credit some 10 years after his death, as co-director of "Amici più di prima", a film made up of archive Franco & Ciccio footage.

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