Dino De Laurentiis


Producer

About

Also Known As
Agostino De Laurentiis
Birth Place
Torre Annunziata, Napoli, IT
Born
August 08, 1919
Died
November 11, 2010

Biography

A Hollywood player for decades, producer Dino De Laurentiis produced a remarkable mix of motion pictures, ranging from art house fare like Fellini's "La Strada" (1954) to camp classics like "Barbarella" (1968) to spectacles like "King Kong" (1976) and "Tai Pan" (1986), as well as popular entertainment like "Hannibal" (2001). Ever since he began his producing career with the international...

Biography

A Hollywood player for decades, producer Dino De Laurentiis produced a remarkable mix of motion pictures, ranging from art house fare like Fellini's "La Strada" (1954) to camp classics like "Barbarella" (1968) to spectacles like "King Kong" (1976) and "Tai Pan" (1986), as well as popular entertainment like "Hannibal" (2001). Ever since he began his producing career with the international hit "Riso Amaro" ("Bitter Rice") (1948), De Laurentiis financed, produced or distributed hundreds of movies, including some of the most significant ever made in cinema history, like "Serpico" (1973), "Death Wish" (1974) and "Conan the Barbarian" (1982). Toward the end of the 20th century, De Laurentiis - who had missed out on the massive success of "Silence of the Lambs (1991) after declining the rights following the failure of "Manhunter" (1986) - saw a resurgence with the box office hit "Hannibal" (2001), which spawned another successful sequel, "Red Dragon" (2002), and cemented his place as one of cinema's most prolific producers.

Born on Aug. 8, 1918 in Torre Annunciata, Italy, a small city in the province of Naples, De Laurentiis was raised by his father, Rosario, a pasta maker, and his mother, Giusppina. Though he entered his father's pasta business while still a teenager, De Laurentiis found the idea of selling spaghetti unappealing and instead moved to Rome, where he enrolled in the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. De Laurentiis supported himself with acting roles and behind the scenes work until he decided to become a producer in 1939, making his producing debut with "Troppo tardi t'ho conosciuta." But it took another nine years before he enjoyed a real international success with the neo-realistic "Riso Amaro" ("Bitter Rice") (1948), one of the landmark films in the Italian neorealist movement that emerged after World War II. The film starred a buxom Silvana Mangano, whom De Laurentiis married in July 1949, as a rice field worker wooed by two men; one respectable (Raf Vallone) and the other a fugitive (Vittorio Gassman). The couple collaborated in several more ensuing films, including "Il Lupo della Sila" ("The Lure of Sila") (1949), "Il Brigante Musolino" ("Outlaw Girl") (1950) and "Anna" (1951).

In the 1950s, De Laurentiis joined with Sophia Loren's husband Carlo Ponti to form a production company that oversaw several prestigious Italian films, including Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning melodrama set in the seedy world of a travelling carnival, "La Strada" (1954). They went on to make "Attila" (1955), "The Miller's Wife" (1955) and "Guendalina" (1957) before dissolving their partnership. By that time, De Laurentiis had branched out on his own, overseeing the epic "War and Peace" (1956), directed by King Vidor and starring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda, while reuniting with Fellini on the Oscar-winning "The Nights of Cabiria" (1957). In 1959, De Laurentiis oversaw his third Academy Award-nominated foreign language motion picture, "The Great War." Meanwhile, as the 1960s unfolded, De Laurentiis built his own studio, Dino Citta, and began teaming with some of the European cinema's finest filmmakers like Vittorio De Sica on "The Last Judgment" (1962), Jean-Luc Godard on "Pierre le fou" (1965) and Claude Chabrol on "An Orchid for the Tiger" (1965). He also worked the Hollywood scene with films like the religious-themed dramas "Barrabas" (1962) and the John Huston-directed "The Bible" (1966). This combination of art house and commercial fare reached absurd heights in 1968 with the odd combination of Francois Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black" and Roger Vadim's "Barbarella."

When Dino Citta failed, De Laurentiis relocated to the United States in the early 1970s and initiated a run of films that proved popular at the box office. He was producer of "The Valachi Papers" (1972), which was based on fact and purported to tell the real story of the Italian Mafia that a film like "The Godfather" was unable to do. Meanwhile, "Serpico" (1973) garnered praise for its true-life tale of police corruption as well as for Al Pacino's magnificent portrayal as an idealistic young cop in jeopardy for not taking bribes. He followed with "Death Wish" (1974), which perhaps tapped most into the zeitgeist, serving up a revenge tale that spawned several sequels starring Charles Bronson and countless imitations. While the spy thriller "Three Days of the Condor" (1975) combined the elements of pulp entertainment with highbrow aspirations embodied in star Robert Redford and director Sydney Pollack, De Laurentiis waded in the muck with lowbrow entertainment like the dreadful "Mandingo" (1975) and the more noisome sequel "Drum" (1976).

Perhaps the producer's greatest act of hubris was undertaking the remake of the 1933 classic "King Kong" (1976), which he hoped would rival "Jaws" (1975) in terms of box office take. Famously declaring that "When Jaws dies, nobody cries. When Kong dies, they all cry," De Laurentiis instead delivered a campy, low-brow effort full off cheesy dialogue and over-the-top performances from Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin. Not losing his flair for the high-brow, De Laurentiis reteamed with Fellini one last time for "Fellini's Casanova" (1976), the director's ill-fated biopic of the great lover (Donald Sutherland). After producing Ingmar Bergman's venture into English-language filmmaking, "The Serpent's Egg" (1978), he produced "The Great Train Robbery" (1979) and "Flash Gordon" (1980) while delivering an intriguing adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's historical novel, "Ragtime" (1981), directed by Milos Forman. Meanwhile, he helped introduce the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger by producing "Conan the Barbarian" (1982), which later spawned a sequel "Conant the Destroyer" (1984) and an off-shoot, "Red Sonja" (1985).

Amid much fanfare in 1983, De Laurentiis announced the formation of the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG), which included a state-of-the-art film studio in Wilmington, NC. Serving as chairman and CEO, he oversaw an ambitious slate of films, most of which proved to be box office disappointments. Despite the presence of stars Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, "The Bounty" (1984), a retelling of the famous mutiny, failed to find an audience. Most disappointing of all was "Dune" (1984), director David Lynch's wildly ambitious and overly muddled distillation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel, which proved to be both an expensive failure and a frustrating mess for audiences. After the failures of projects like "Year of the Dragon" (1985) and "Tai Pan" (1986), De Laurentiis ceded defeat and resigned from DEG in 1988, while the following year, he lost his wife, Silvana Mangano, to lung cancer. Perhaps a lesser figure would have been driven from the industry, but the formidable De Laurentiis formed Dino De Laurentiis Communications and produced the remake of "The Desperate Hours" (1990). Following his first foray into American television, "Stephen King's 'Sometime They Come Back'" (CBS, 1991), he returned to features as the executive producer of "Kuffs" (1992) while signing Madonna to star in "Body of Evidence" (1993), a "Basic Instinct"-inspired knockoff.

Returning to the small screen, De Laurentiis returned to the biblically-inspired films of the 1960s and oversaw a remake of "Solomon and Sheba" (Showtime, 1995) which starred Jimmy Smits as the biblical ruler of Israel and Halle Berry as the Queen of Sheba. Also that year, he steered the television movie depicting the biblical Joseph (Adrian Pasdar) and his rise out of slavery to become the chief minister to the Pharaoh of Egypt (Orso Maria Guerrini) in the oddly-titled "Slave of Dreams" (Showtime, 1995). Although the Ray Liotta thriller "Unforgettable" (1996) was anything but, De Laurentiis enjoyed a critical hit with "Breakdown" (1997), a taut thriller starring Kurt Russell as a husband looking for his wife's kidnapper after a breakdown in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. As the years piled on, De Laurentiis slowed down his output, though he did remain active while receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2001.

Following the underwhelming World War II yarn "U-571" (2000), De Laurentiis brought "Hannibal" (2001) - the long-awaited sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) - to the screen. Previously, his company held the rights to Thomas Harris' novels and was behind the Michael Mann-helmed "Manhunter" (1986). But the financial wreckage left behind from that box office failure forced the company to pass on "Lambs," only to see Orion Pictures make a huge hit that won multiple Oscars. Determined to not let such an opportunity pass him by again, De Laurentiis at long last managed to convince Anthony Hopkins to reprise Dr. Hannibal Lecter despite "Lambs" star Jodie Foster and director Jonathan Demme declining to participate. With Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling and Ridley Scott in the director's chair, De Laurentiis finally brought the picture to screen. Though a huge box office hit - the film earned $58 million its opening weekend - "Hannibal" received mix reviews at best and zero Oscar nominations. De Laurentiis went back to the well with "Red Dragon" (2002), a remake of "Manhunter" starring Hopkins and Edward Norton. Several years later, he produced "Hannibal Rising" (2007), a prequel that saw the rise of Hannibal Lecter (Gaspard Ulliel) as a notorious serial killer. The film was savaged by critics on its way to becoming a box office dud. Although his final project was not a major success, De Laurentiis left behind a sweeping legacy of producing quality films, as well as sharing his unrequited love of the art form itself with the rest of the world. De Laurentiis passed away on Nov. 10, 2010 in his Beverly Hills home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 91 years old.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Fellini (2001)
Himself
I Tre Volti (1965)

Producer (Feature Film)

The Boom (2017)
Producer
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Producer
Virgin Territory (2007)
Producer
Red Dragon (2002)
Producer
Hannibal (2001)
Producer
U-571 (2000)
Producer
Breakdown (1997)
Producer
Unforgettable (1996)
Producer
Slave of Dreams (1995)
Producer
Slave of Dreams (1995)
Executive Producer
Assassins (1995)
Executive Producer
Body of Evidence (1993)
Producer
Stephen King's "Sometimes They Come Back" (1991)
Executive Producer
Kuffs (1991)
Executive Producer
Once Upon A Crime (1991)
Producer
Desperate Hours (1990)
Producer
Tai-Pan (1986)
Executive Producer
Year Of The Dragon (1985)
Producer
Dune (1984)
Executive Producer
The Bounty (1984)
Executive Producer
The Dead Zone (1983)
Executive Producer
Ragtime (1981)
Producer
Flash Gordon (1980)
Producer
Hurricane (1979)
Producer
King Of The Gypsies (1978)
Producer
The Brink's Job (1978)
Executive Producer
The Serpent's Egg (1977)
Producer
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1977)
Producer
The White Buffalo (1977)
Executive Producer
King Kong (1976)
Producer
Lipstick (1976)
Executive Producer
The Shootist (1976)
Producer
Drum (1976)
Producer
Orca (1976)
Executive Producer
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
Executive Producer
Mandingo (1975)
Producer
Serpico (1974)
Producer
Death Wish (1974)
Executive Producer
Porgi l'Altra Guancia (1974)
Producer
Three Tough Guys (1974)
Producer
Crazy Joe (1973)
Producer
The Valachi Papers (1972)
Presented By
The Valachi Papers (1972)
Producer
Waterloo (1971)
Producer
The Deserter (1971)
Executive Producer
Fraulein Doktor (1969)
Producer
Barbarella (1968)
Producer
Anzio (1968)
Producer
The Violent Four (1968)
Producer
Danger: Diabolik (1968)
Producer
The Witches (1968)
Producer
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1967)
Presented By
Navajo Joe (1967)
Presented By
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1967)
Producer
The Bible...In the Beginning (1966)
Presented By
The Bible...In the Beginning (1966)
Producer
An Orchid For the Tiger (1965)
Producer
I Tre Volti (1965)
Producer
... And Suddenly It's Murder! (1964)
Producer
Goliath and the Vampires (1964)
Presented By
Goliath and the Vampires (1964)
Executive Producer
The Hunchback of Rome (1963)
Producer
To Bed or Not To Bed (1963)
Producer
A Day in Court (1963)
Executive Producer
Everybody Go Home! (1962)
Producer
Barabbas (1962)
Producer
I Love, You Love (1962)
Presented By
I Love, You Love (1962)
Producer
The Best of Enemies (1962)
Producer
The Great War (1961)
Presented By
The Great War (1961)
Producer
Under Ten Flags (1960)
Producer
Five Branded Women (1960)
Producer
Tempest (1959)
Producer
This Angry Age (1958)
Producer
Attila (1958)
Producer
Guendalina (1957)
Producer
The Gold of Naples (1957)
Producer
War and Peace (1956)
Producer
Ulysses (1955)
Producer
Mambo (1955)
Producer
Where is Freedom? (1954)
Producer
La Strada (1954)
Producer
Woman Of Rome (1954)
Producer
Anna (1951)
Producer
Lupo della sila, Il (1949)
Producer
Riso Amaro (1949)
Producer

Production Companies (Feature Film)

Barbarella (1968)
Company
Matchless (1967)
Company
The Stranger (1967)
Company
Barabbas (1962)
Company

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Fellini (2001)
Other

Cast (Special)

Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997)

Life Events

1939

Debut as film producer, "Troppo tardi t'ho conosciuta"

1948

Breakthrough film, "Riso Amaro/Bitter Rice" (released in the USA in 1950)

1954

Enjoyed success with Fellini's "La Strada" (released in USA in 1956)

1956

Served as producer of "War and Peace"

1956

Re-teamed with Fellini for the Oscar winning film, "Le notti di Cabiria/Nights of Cabiria"

1957

Dissolved Ponti-De Laurentiis Production Company

1959

Produced the Oscar-nominated foreign-language film, "The Great War"

1961

Teamed with Vitorrio De Sica as producer of "The Last Judgment"

1962

Produced the biblical epic "Barabbas"

1965

Produced Jean-Luc Godard's "Pierre le fou" and Claude Chabrol's "An Orchid for the Tiger"

1966

Was a producer on John Huston's "The Bible"

1967

Produced Luchino Visconti's "The Stranger"

1968

Served as producer on Francois Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black" and Roger Vadim's camp classic "Barbarella"

1971

Produced the epic "Waterloo"

1972

Produced "The Valachi Papers"

1973

Enjoyed critical and box-office success with "Serpico," starring Al Pacino

1974

Was the producer of the Charles Bronson vehicle "Death Wish"

1975

Executive produced the spy thriller "Three Days of the Condor"

1976

Produced the remake of the 1933 classic "King Kong"

1976

Produced the John Wayne Western, "The Shootist"

1976

Re-teamed with Fellini after 20 years on "Fellini's Casanova"

1977

Served as producer of Ingmar Bergman's English-language feature "The Serpent's Egg"

1977

Executive produced the "Jaws" rip-off "Orca"

1978

Produced the screen adaptation of "King of the Gypsies"

1979

Oversaw remake of "The Hurricane"

1980

Bestowed on audiences the camp classic "Flash Gordon"

1981

Served as producer of Milos Foreman's screen adaptation of "Ragtime"

1983

Executive produced David Cronenberg's "The Dead Zone"; film adapted from a Stephen King novel

1983

Founded De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG) and DEG Film Studios in Wilmington, NC

1984

Produced the Arnold Schwarzenneger vehicle "Conan the Destroyer"

1984

Was executive producer of "The Bounty," a revisionist version of the story behind the mutiny on the HMS Bounty

1984

Was an executive producer of the ill-fated adapatation of Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel "Dune"

1985

Produced the Michael Cimino-directed "Year of the Dragon"

1986

Was executive producer of "Tai Pan," which was adapted from a James Clavell novel

1988

Resigned from DEG as chairman of the board and CEO and formed Dino De Laurentiis Company

1990

Produced the remake of "The Desperate Hours"

1990

Formed Dino De Laurentiis Communications (DDLC)

1991

First foray into American television, produced the CBS adaptation of "Stephen King's 'Sometimes They Come Back'"

1993

Produced "Body of Evidence," starring Madonna

1995

Executive produced the Showtime biblical movies "Solomon and Sheba" and "Slave of Dreams"

1996

Served as producer on "Unforgettable"

1997

Enjoyed a surprise hit with the taut thriller "Breakdown"

2000

Produced the WWII-era thriller "U-571"

2001

Produced "Hannibal," the long-awaited sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs"

2002

Produced "Red Dragon," a remake of "Manhunter"

2007

Produced "Hannibal Rising," which tells the story of how Hannibal becomes a serial killer

Videos

Movie Clip

La Strada (1954) — (Movie Clip) The Fool Will Perform Innocent Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina, directed by her husband Federico Fellini) has run away from her employer/owner (barnstorming entertainer Zampano, Anthony Quinn) and wandered into a nearby town where she sees a Catholic festival, then one of his rivals (Richard Basehart as “Il Matto,” or “The Fool”), in the worldwide hit La Strada, 1954.
La Strada (1954) -- Are You Afraid Of My Trifle? Subtitled puns and slapstick in this famous scene as low-rent itinerant strong man performer Zampano (Anthony Quinn) and Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina, the director's wife), his new assistant, performing for the first time, charm their rural Italian audience, in Federico Fellini's La Strada, 1954.
La Strada (1954) - Restoration, Opening Opening credit sequence for Federico Fellini's first international hit, La Strada, 1954, starring his wife Giuletta Masina, Anthony Quinn and Richard Basehart, from the new restoration by The Film Foundation, The Criterion Collection and The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
La Strada (1954) -- What A Man! Directed by her husband Federico Fellini, country-girl Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) at her first restaurant dinner with intoxicated roustabout strong-man Zampano (Anthony Quinn), who in-effect purchased her from her impoverished mother, and who soon becomes more interested in the barmaid (Anna Primula), in La Strada, 1954.
La Strada (1954) - Here He Is, Zampano! On their first day together, traveling entertainer Zampano (Anthony Quinn) discovers Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina, the director's wife), the assistant he's basically purchased, can't cook, and offers some instruction on performance, in Federico Fellini's La Strada, 1954.
La Strada - (1954) She'll Do What She's Told Opening scene in which Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) is sold by her mother (Caterina Boratto) to entertainer Zampano (Anthony Quinn) for ten thousand lire, in Federico Fellini's La Strada, 1954.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Everything Historical Is Yours Amid the continuous rehearsal, first appearance by Burt Lancaster as Ned Buntline, Joel Grey as producer Salisbury, Geraldine Chaplin as Annie Oakley, John Considine her husband and manager, Harvey Keitel the nephew of the title character, Kevin McCarthy as Major Burke, and Paul Newman heard but not seen, in Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or , Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976.
Marie: A True Story (1985) - Open, Bring Us Some More Beer The violent opening by director Roger Donaldson, from John Briley’s screenplay from Peter Maas’ book based on the real life of the title character Marie Ragghianti, played by Sissy Spacek, Vincent Irizarry her husband, in Marie: A True Story, 1985, also starring Jeff Daniels, Morgan Freeman, and then-lawyer Fred Thompson “as himself.”
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Open, This Piece Of Our History Identified as a Robert Altman opening, though hardly necessary, with Alan Rudolph's 90% original script (with a nod to a play by Arthur Kopit), shooting at the Stoney Indian Reservation in Alberta, with narration by Humphrey Gratz who plays the "old soldier," from Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or, Sitting Bull's History Lesson, 1976, starring Paul Newman, cinematography by Paul Lohmann.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - The Last Thing A Man Wants To Do Director Robert Altman, after nearly 15 minutes, finally shows his star and title character, Paul Newman, on camera, in rehearsal for his Wild West Show, introduced by producer Joel Grey, with Harvey Keitel as his nephew and secretary, Geraldine Chaplin as Annie Oakley, John Considine her husband, in Buffalo Bill And The Indians, 1976.
Buffalo Bill And The Indians (1976) - Ain't All That Different From Real Life Paul Newman (title character), with his publicist (Kevin McCarthy, as “Arizona John Burke,” also a historical figure) insists on a staged greeting for his newly recruited Wild West Show co-star, at first mistaking interpreter Halsey (Will Sampson) for Sitting Bull (Frank Kaquitts), in Robert Altman’s Buffalo Bill And The Indians Or, Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, 1976.
Mandingo (1975) - On This Plantation Out of the credits with the end of Muddy Waters’ recording of the original theme song by Maurice Jarre and Hi Tide Harris, James Mason as plantation owner Maxwell, Paul Benedict as slave trader Brownlee, Ji-Tu Cumbuka as Cicero and Perry King as son Hammond, with foul language typical of the controversial box-office hit Mandingo, 1975.

Trailer

Bibliography