Italian director Mario Monicelli—recognized as one of the fathers of Italian comedy for his work in the 1940s through 1960s—has died after leaping to his death. Monicelli was in a Rome hospital being treated for a terminal pancreatic condition (or prostate cancer—reports are conflicting). Earlier today he jumped out of a fifth-floor window and died on the ground below. He was 95.
Monicelli’s 1958 crime caper Big Deal On Madonna Street (I Soliti Ignoti) is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Italian cinema, and one of the first (if not the first) examples of the commedia all’Italiana style. The film helped launch the careers of Vittorrio Gassman and Marcello Mastroianni, with whom Monicelli worked again on 1959’s The Great War, which received an Oscar nomination and the Golden Lion at that year’s Venice Film Festival. (The festival later gave him another Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 1991.) He also received Oscar nominations for 1963’s I Compagni, 1965’s Casanova ’70, and 1968’s The Girl With The Pistol. All told, Monicelli wrote more than 100 screenplays and directed nearly 70 films, including critical and commercial smashes For Love And Gold and My Friends, while working with stars like Monica Vitti, Vittorio De Sica, and Sophia Loren. His last completed film was 2006’s The Roses Of The Desert, which he made when he was 91 years old.