Vittorio De Sica

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Vittorio De Sica
De Sica in the movie General Della Rovere (1959)
Born(1901-07-07)7 July 1901
Sora, Lazio, Kingdom of Italy
Died13 November 1974(1974-11-13) (aged 73)
Occupations
  • Film director
  • actor
Years active1917–1974
Spouses
  • (m. 1937; div. 1954)
  • (m. 1968)
Children

Vittorio De Sica (/də ˈskə/ SEE-kə, Italian: [vitˈtɔːrjo de ˈsiːka]; 7 July 1901 – 13 November 1974) was an Italian film director and actor, a leading figure in the neorealist movement.

Widely considered one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, four of the films he directed won Academy Awards: Sciuscià and Bicycle Thieves (honorary), while Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Il giardino dei Finzi Contini won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. 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 Award. These two films are considered part of the canon of classic cinema.[1] Bicycle Thieves was deemed the greatest film of all time by Sight & Sound magazine's poll of filmmakers and critics in 1958,[2] and was cited by Turner Classic Movies as one of the 15 most influential films in cinema history.[3]

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.[4]

Life and career[edit]

De Sica in the late 1920s

De Sica was born on 7 July 1901 in Sora, Lazio, the son of Neapolitan parents.[5] His father was an officer of the Bank of Italy, and was transferred from Naples to Sora, Italy.[6] De Sica 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 the actress, Giuditta Rissone, who later became his wife, and Sergio Tofano. The company performed mostly light comedies, but they also staged plays by Beaumarchais and worked with famous directors like Luchino Visconti.[7]

His meeting with the screenwriter 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.[8]

De Sica appeared in the British television series The Four Just Men (1959).[9]

Personal life[edit]

His passion for gambling was well known and 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,[9] as well as in General Della Rovere, a film directed by Rossellini in which De Sica played the title role.[10]

In 1937 Vittorio De Sica married the actress Giuditta Rissone, who gave birth to their daughter, Emilia (Emi). In 1942, on the set of Un garibaldino al convento, he met Spanish actress María Mercader (cousin of Ramon Mercader, Leon Trotsky's assassin), with whom he started a relationship. After divorcing Rissone in France in 1954, he married Mercader in 1959 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.[11]

He was a Roman Catholic[12] and a communist.[13][14] 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 surgery due to lung cancer at the Neuilly-sur-Seine hospital in Paris.[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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

Filmography[edit]

Directing credits[edit]

English title Original title Notes Released
Red Roses Rose scarlatte Co-director 1940
Maddalena, Zero for Conduct Maddalena, zero in condotta
Do You Like Women Teresa Venerdi 1941
A Garibaldian in the Convent Un garibaldino al convento 1942
The Children Are Watching Us I bambini ci guardano 1944
The Gate of Heaven La porta del cielo 1945
Shoeshine Sciuscià Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film (Special Award) 1946
Heart and Soul Cuore Co-director 1948
Bicycle Thieves Ladri di biciclette Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film (Special Award)
Miracle in Milan Miracolo a Milano 1951
Umberto D. 1952
Terminal Station Stazione Termini 1953
The Gold of Naples L'oro di Napoli 1954
The Roof Il Tetto 1956
Anna of Brooklyn Anna di Brooklyn Co-director 1958
Two Women La Ciociara 1960
The Last Judgment Il Giudizio universale 1961
The Condemned of Altona I sequestrati di Altona 1962
Boccaccio '70 Short film – segment La riffa
Il Boom 1963
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Ieri, oggi e domani Academy Award Winner, Best Foreign Film[19]
Marriage Italian-Style Matrimonio all'italiana Academy Award Nominee, Best Foreign Film[20] 1964
Un monde nouveau 1966
After the Fox Caccia alla volpe
Woman Times Seven Sette Volte Donna 1967
The Witches Le streghe Short film – segment Una sera come le altre
A Place for Lovers Amanti 1968
Sunflower I Girasoli 1970
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini Academy Award Winner, Best Foreign Film[21]
The Couples Le Coppie Short film – segment Il Leone
From Referendum to the Constitution: 2 June Dal referendum alla costituzione: Il 2 giugno Documentary 1971
The Knights of Malta I Cavalieri di Malta
We'll Call Him Andrea Lo chiameremo Andrea 1972
A Brief Vacation Una breve vacanza 1973
The Voyage Il viaggio 1974

Acting credits[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 appearances as actor[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves (1949)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  2. ^ Ebert, Roger (19 March 1999). "The Bicycle Thief / Bicycle Thieves (1949) review". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger. "TCM's 15 most influential films of all time, and 10 from me". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  4. ^ "A Farewell To Arms - TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  5. ^ Lambiase, Sergio (20 February 2013). "Foto e lettere inedite di De Sica, il ciociaro cosmopolita che voleva essere napoletano". Corriere del Mezzogiorno (in Italian). Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  6. ^ "De Siza - Actor Director". Continental Film Review. July 1965. p. 14. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  7. ^ Cardullo 2002, p. 29.
  8. ^ Cardullo 2002, pp. 128, 164.
  9. ^ a b Curle & Snyder 2000, p. 12.
  10. ^ Bondanella, Peter (1993). The Films of Roberto Rossellini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-521-39236-5.
  11. ^ Cardullo 2002, p. 3.
  12. ^ "Famous Catholics". www.adherents.com. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  13. ^ Ariela Bankier (22 April 2010). "All About My Father". Haaretz. Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd. Retrieved 26 June 2021. "They were both communists, both Cesare and De Sica," his son says.
  14. ^ Gino Moliterno (2000). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture. Routledge. p. 409. ISBN 9780415145848.
  15. ^ Kaufman, Michael T. (14 November 1974). "Vittorio De Sica, 73, Dies; Neorealist Movie Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  16. ^ "IMDB.com: Awards for Anna di Brooklyn". imdb.com. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  17. ^ "4th Moscow International Film Festival (1965)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Berlinale 1971: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  19. ^ "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  20. ^ "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  21. ^ "The 44th Academy Awards (1972) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 27 November 2011.

Further reading[edit]

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