Vittorio De Sica

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"De Sica" redirects here. For Vittorio De Sica's son, also an actor, see Christian De Sica.
Vittorio De Sica
S Kragujevic, Vittorio De Sica, 1959.JPG
De Sica in the 1959
Born 7 July 1901
Sora, Lazio, Italy
Died 13 November 1974 (aged 73)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Occupation Director, actor
Years active 1917–1974
Religion Roman Catholicism
Spouse(s) Giuditta Rissone (m. 1937–54)
María Mercader (m. 1959–74)
Children Emi De Sica
Manuel De Sica
Christian De Sica

Vittorio De Sica (7 July 1901 – 13 November 1974) was an Italian director and actor, a leading figure in the neorealist movement.

Four of the films he directed won Academy Awards: Sciuscià and Bicycle Thieves were awarded honorary Oscars, while Ieri, oggi, domani and Il giardino dei Finzi Contini won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Indeed, the great critical success of Sciuscià (the first foreign film to be so recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and Bicycle Thieves helped establish the permanent Best Foreign Film Oscar. These two films generally are considered part of the canon of classic cinema.[1] Bicycle Thieves was cited by Turner Classic Movies as one of the 15 most influential films in cinema history.[2]

De Sica was also nominated for the 1957 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing Major Rinaldi in American director Charles Vidor's 1957 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, a movie that was panned by critics and proved a box office flop. De Sica's acting was considered the highlight of the film.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Born into poverty in Sora, Lazio (1901), he began his career as a theatre actor in the early 1920s and joined Tatiana Pavlova's theatre company in 1923. In 1933 he founded his own company with his wife Giuditta Rissone and Sergio Tofano. The company performed mostly light comedies, but they also staged plays by Beaumarchais and worked with famous directors like Luchino Visconti.

His meeting with Cesare Zavattini was a very important event: together they created some of the most celebrated films of the neorealistic age, like Sciuscià (Shoeshine) and Bicycle Thieves (released as The Bicycle Thief in America), both of which De Sica directed.

De Sica appeared in the British television series The Four Just Men (1959).

Private life[edit]

His passion for gambling was well known. Because of it, he often lost large sums of money and accepted work that might not otherwise have interested him. He never kept his gambling a secret from anyone; in fact, he projected it on characters in his own movies, like Count Max (which he acted in but did not direct) and The Gold of Naples.

In 1937 he married Giuditta Rissone, whom he met ten years before and who gave birth to their daughter, Emi. In 1942, on the set of Un garibaldino al convento, he met Spanish actress Maria Mercader (sister of Ramon Mercader, Trotsky's assassin), with whom he started a relationship.

He was a Roman Catholic.[4]

After divorcing Rissone in France in 1954, he married Mercader in 1959, again in Mexico, but this union was not considered valid under Italian law. In 1968 he obtained French citizenship and married Mercader in Paris. Meanwhile he had already had two sons with her: Manuel, in 1949, a musician, and Christian, in 1951, who would follow his father's path as an actor and director.

Although divorced, De Sica never parted from his first family. He led a double family life, with double celebrations on holidays. It is said that, at Christmas and on New Year's Eve, he used to put back the clocks by two hours in Mercader's house so that he could make a toast at midnight with both families. His first wife agreed to keep up the facade of a marriage so as not to leave her daughter without a father.

Vittorio De Sica died at 73 after a surgery at the Neuilly-sur-Seine hospital in Paris.

Filmography as director[edit]

Italian title English title Notes Released
Rose scarlatte N/A Co-director 1940
Maddalena, zero in condotta Maddalena, Zero for Conduct 1940
Teresa Venerdì Do You Like Women, Doctor Beware 1941
Un garibaldino al convento A Garibaldian in the Convent 1942
I bambini ci guardano The Children Are Watching Us, The Little Martyr 1944
La porta del cielo The Gate of Heaven 1945
Sciuscià Shoeshine Academy Award-winner (Special Award); Academy Award nominee, Best Original Screenplay (Sergio Amidei, Adolfo Franci & Cesare Zavattini) 1946
Cuore Heart, Heart and Soul Co-director 1948
Ladri di biciclette Bicycle Thieves, The Bicycle Thief Academy Award-winner (Special Award); Academy Award nominee, Best Writing-Screenplay (Cesare Zavattini) 1948
Miracolo a Milano Miracle in Milan 1951
Umberto D. N/A Academy Award nominee, Best Writing-Story (Cesare Zavattini) 1952
Villa Borghese It Happened in the Park Co-director 1953
Stazione Termini Terminal Station, Station Terminus, Indiscretion of an American Wife 1953
L'oro di Napoli The Gold of Naples 1954
Il Tetto The Roof 1956
Anna di Brooklyn Anna of Brooklyn, Fast and Sexy Co-director 1958
La Ciociara Two Women Academy Award-winner, Best Actress (Sophia Loren) 1961
Il Giudizio universale The Last Judgement 1961
I sequestrati di Altona The Condemned of Altona 1962
Boccaccio '70 N/A Short film – segment La riffa 1962
Il Boom N/A 1963
Ieri, oggi e domani Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Academy Award-winner, Best Foreign Film[5] 1963
Matrimonio all'italiana Marriage Italian-Style Academy Award-nominee, Best Foreign Film,[6] Best Actress (Sophia Loren) 1964
Un monde nouveau A New World 1966
Caccia alla volpe After the Fox 1966
Sette Volte Donna Woman Times Seven 1967
Le streghe The Witches Short film – segment Sera come le altre, Una 1967
Amanti A Place for Lovers 1968
I Girasoli Sunflower 1970
Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Academy Award-winner, Best Foreign Film[7] 1970
Le Coppie The Couples Short film – segment Il Leone 1970
Dal referendum alla costituzione: Il 2 giugno From Referendum to the Constitution: 2 June Documentary 1971
I Cavalieri di Malta The Knights of Malta Documentary 1971
Lo chiameremo Andrea We'll Call Him Andrea 1972
Una Breve vacanza A Brief Vacation 1973
Il viaggio The Voyage 1974

Filmography as actor[edit]

Note: on many sources, Fontana di Trevi by Carlo Campogalliani (1960) and La bonne soupe by Robert Thomas (1964) are included but de Sica does not appear in those films.

Television as actor[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Vittorio De Sica was given the Interfilm Grand Prix in 1971 by the Berlin Film Festival

Quotations[edit]

"There is no crisis in cinema. There are negative periods. There are times when some films are received well and others aren't. The past teaches us that some films were received badly, while others go sailing on. There are two films doing very well right now in the Italian market: One is Il gattopardo, which earns seven million lire a day, and the other is Il diavolo, starring Sordi, which earns 3 1/2 million. So there are films that are doing very well. What I notice is that producers have been known to make errors in judgment, which have caused them to be overly daring. For example, I've been told many millions were spent, somewhere around half a billion, for a film entrusted to a young person. We must make room for young people, but with half a billion we could have made eight of Bicycle Thieves. Experimental cinema should be inexpensive cinema. Half a billion lire should be entrusted to those professionals who we can be sure will bring home the half billion spent. We should be cautious with new initiatives. Producers should be cautious. As for television as a competitor, yes, there I see a danger. Let television do television, let them do documentaries, but cinema as such should be shown on screens, because there's no one more lazy than the public. When people don't have to leave their homes, they're very happy. A film shown in the home encourages the audience not to budge."[this quote needs a citation]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves (1949)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger. "TCM's 15 most influential films of all time, and 10 from me". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  3. ^ TV Guide review
  4. ^ Famous Catholics
  5. ^ "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "The 44th Academy Awards (1972) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "IMDB.com: Awards for Anna di Brooklyn". imdb.com. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Berlinale 1971: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 

External links[edit]