Mario Monicelli

15.05.1915, Viareggio, Italy - 29.11.2010, Rome, Italy



Monicelli is an Italian screenwriter and director, one of the most important authors and “fathers” of commedie all'italiane. He studied history and philosophy in Rome and Pisa. He began his film career as an assistant director and co-screenwriter. He made his debut with the short feature film (16 mm) The Boys of Via Paal (I ragazzi dela via Paal, 1935, awarded at the Venice Film Festival) co-directed with Alberto Mondadori. He directed his next film, the medium length feature Pioggia d'estate (1937), on his own. From 1936 to 1942, he wrote many screenplays and assisted many directors (most often Giacomo Gentilomo). His official directing debut was his third film Totò cerca casa (1949), co-directed by Stefano Vanzina-Steno. Over the next four years they continued their collaboration and made eight commercial films, most of them starring the comedian Totò (Guardie e ladri (1951), Totò e i re di Roma (1951) and Totò e le donne (1952). Starting in 1953, he began directing on his own and also continued to write screenplays. His most important films from that period include I ragazzi dela via Paal (Proibito, 1954), Donatella (1956), A Tailor's Maid (Padri e figli, 1957), Big Deal on Madonna Street (I soliti ignoti, 1958), which revealed Vittorio Gassman and Marcello Mastroianni’s talent for comedy. The Great War (La grande guerra, 1959) is considered his best film, and it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival (together with Il generale della Rovere by Roberto Rossellini) and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. He received the same nomination for his film The Organizer (I compagni, 1963) and The Girl with a Pistol (La ragazza con la pistola, 1968). He also directed Casanova '70 (1965), For Love and Gold (L'armata Brancaleone, 1966) and its sequel Brancaleone at the Crusades (Brancaleone alle crociate, 1970). In the1970s he made We Want the Colonels (Vogliamo i colonnelli, 1973), My Friends (Amici miei, 1975), Caro Michele (1976) and An Average Little Man (Un borghese piccolo piccolo, 1977). He remained active in the1980s and made the comedy Il marchese del Grillo (1981), a sequel to his earlier film My Friends entitled simply All My Friends Part 2 (Amici miei atto II, 1982), Speriamo che sia femmina (1985) starring Liv Ullmann and Catherine Deneuve and the drama I picari (1988.). His last films are Parenti serpenti (1992), Cari fottutissimi amici (1994), Looking for Paradise (Facciamo paradiso, 1995) and The Roses of the Desert (Le rose del deserto, 2006), which he directed at the age of 91. He directed more than forty films on his own and won many awards for them (Venice, Berlin, Mar del Plata), and in 1991, he received the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement award in Venice. During his career, he worked with some of the best Italian actors and actresses (Totò, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, Anna Magnani, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren) and many European and American stars. Besides films, he also directed for TV and radio and even acted sometimes. He died in 2010 after jumping off the 5th floor of a hospital in Rome where he was admitted due to severe cancer for which he had been treated in the last year of his life.


Vicino al Colosseo c'è Monti (short feature) (2008)
Le rose del deserto (2006)
Firenze, il nostro domani (documentary) (2003) (co-director)
Lettere dalla Palestina (documentary) (2002) (co-director)
Un altro mondo è possibile (documentary) (2001) (co-director)
Come quando fuori piove (mini TV series) (2000)
Un amico magico: il maestro Nino Rota (documentary) (1999)
Panni sporchi (1999)
I corti italiani (segment Topi di appartamento) (1997)
Topi di appartamento (short) (1997)
Esercizi di stile (segment Idillio edile) (1996)
Facciamo paradiso (1995)
The Royal Affair (1995)
Cari fottutissimi amici (1994)
Parenti serpenti (1992)
Rossini! Rossini! (1991)
Il male oscuro (1990)
12 registi per 12 città (documentary) (segment Verona) (1989)
La moglie ingenua e il marito malato (TV film) (1989)
I picari (1988)
Speriamo che sia femmina (1986)
Le due vite di Mattia Pascal (1985)
Bertoldo, Bertoldino e... Cacasenno (1984)
Amici miei atto II (1982)
Il marchese del Grillo (1981)
Camera d'albergo (1981)
Temporale Rosy (1980)
Viaggio con Anita (1979)
I nuovi mostri (segments Autostop i First Aid) (1977)
Mali, sasvim mali građanin (Un borghese piccolo piccolo, 1977)
Signore e signori, buonanotte (1976) (co-director)
Caro Michele (1976)
Amici miei (1975)
Romanzo popolare (1974)
Vogliamo i colonnelli (1973)
La mortadella (1971)
Brancaleone alle crociate (1970)
Le coppie (segment Frigorifero, Il) (1970)
Toh, è morta la nonna! (1969)
La ragazza con la pistola (1968)
Capriccio all'italiana (segment Bambinaia, La) (1968)
L'armata Brancaleone (1966)
The Queens (Le Fate, segment Fata Armenia) (1966)
Casanova '70 (1965)
Alta infedeltà (segment Gente Moderna) (1964)
I compagni (1963)
Risate di gioia (1962)
Boccaccio'70 (segment Renzo e Luciana) (1962)
La grande guerra (1959)
Lettere dei condannati a morte (1959)
I soliti ignoti (1958)
Padri e figli (1957)
Il medico e lo stregone (1957)
Donatella (1956)
Totò e Carolina (1955)
Un eroe dei nostri tempi (1955)
Proibito (1954)
Le infedeli (1953) (co-director)
Totò e le donne (1952) (co-director)
Guardie e ladri (1951) (co-director)
Totò e i re di Roma (1951) (co-director)
Vita da cani (1950) (co-director)
È arrivato il cavaliere! (1950) (co-director)
Al diavolo la celebrità (1949) (co-director)
Totò cerca casa (1949) (co-director)
Pioggia d'estate (credited as Michele Badiek) (1937)
The Boys of Via Paal (1935) (short feature, co-director)

Films by this director

I compagni


Directed by: Mario Monicelli
PHOTOGRAPHY: Giuseppe Rotunno

This is a powerful, almost documentary, account of the exploitation of Italian workers in the 19th century and a fierce analysis of the emergence of Italian syndicate. The film was nominated for an Oscar in the category of the best screenplay and the director Mario Monicelli won an award at the Mar del Plata film festival.

b/w, 130 min

We Want the Colonels

(Vogliamo i colonnelli, 1973)

Directed by: Mario Monicelli
PHOTOGRAPHY: Alberto Spagnoli

This is an Italian political satire that deals with a fictive attempt at conquering Italy by a radical army. The main character is Giuseppe Tritoni who enjoys support of both police and the army. There is another evil group that awaits these events and tries to start a coup.

color, 102 min

For Love and Gold

(L'armata Brancaleone, 1966)

Directed by: Mario Monicelli

A German knight dies while trying to defend a small Italian village from a group of robbers. His murderers throw the body in the river and among his things they discover a deed of donation given to the knight by the Roman emperor himself. With this deed the knight became the owner of a piece of land in Apulia in South Italy. A group of people, led by the naďve knight Brancaleone set off on a mission to find the land and take it for themselves.

color, 120 min

Big Deal on Madonna Street

(I soliti ignoti, 1958)

Directed by: Mario Monicelli
PHOTOGRAPHY: Gianni Di Venanzo

A former boxer, Peppe, and an unemployed photographer, Tiberio, lead a group of criminals who plan to rob a pawnshop. Even though their mentor Dante is an experienced but retired burglar, their job will be difficult. Each of the gang members has personal problems and the plan to dig a tunnel from the apartment next to the pawnshop has an unexpected outcome.

35mm, b/w, 106 min
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