Vintage Italian Movie Talent
Every time I hear the name Marcello Mastroianni, I remember my grandmother’s words: “He was an incredible actor and a kind man with an irresistible charm.” Yes, she was lucky enough to meet him and receive his autograph when her house was used as a film location. Most of us weren’t so lucky, but still we remember Marcello Mastroianni as an Italian movie and style icon who rose to international fame in the1950s and 1960s.
Born near Frosinone in 1924, Marcello Vincenzo Domenico Mastroianni was raised in Rome, the heart of Italy’s cinema industry. In 1948 he debuted in Riccardo Freda’s Les Misérables, a film based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Mastroianni was fortunate enough to be noticed by the great Italian director Luchino Visconti, who brought Mastroianni to the stage in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and then in A Streetcar named Desire.
Between roles in comedy and drama, Mastroianni’s big breakthrough came in 1958 with the film Big Deal on Madonna Street [I Soliti Ingoti]. In 1961, with Divorce Italian Style [Divorzio all'italiana], he received the British Film Academy Award and an Oscar nomination for best actor. Yet, it was with Federico Fellini’s two masterpieces La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 ½ (1963) that gave Mastroianni truly international success, cemented his reputation as a Latin lover and established him as an icon of cool and elegant men’s style.
Mastroianni’s fame as a ladies’ man comes not only from his good looks, but also in large part from the range of beautiful women who featured as his on-screen love interests. The great Italian actor worked with everyone from classic beauties Brigette Bardot and Claudia Cardinale to Monica Vitti and Faye Dunaway. His artistic partnership with the gorgeous Sophia Loren spanned numerous films, including Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow [Ieri, oggi e domani], Marriage Italian Style [Matrimonio all'italiana] and Sunflower [Girasoli]. In real life Mastroianni was partner to another beautiful legend, Catherine Deneuve, with whom he had a daughter.