R.I.P. Dino De Laurentiis

The colourful, eccentric and never less than ostentatious Italian film producer and entrepreneur Dino De Laurentiis passed away at his Beverly Hills home yesterday. He was 91.

After producing his first features in the 1940’s and teaming with producer Carlo Ponti on several prestigious Italian films in the 1950’s, De Laurentiis turned his attention to what would become his trademark – ambitious, expensive and epic scale international co-productions more concerned with being popular entertainment than critically lauded.

Two studio complexes he built, one in Italy and later one in North Carolina, were both forced to close due to tough economic times and various famous flops he produced. Nevertheless with 166 films under his belt, De Laurentiis will long be remembered for many defining works.

Amongst his earlier credits were Federico Fellini’s “La Strada” and “Nights of Cabiria”, Roger Vadim’s “Barbarella”, Mario Camerini’s “Ulysses”, King Vidor’s “War and Peace”.

Moving to the U.S., he created some of the most famous films of the 70’s and early 80’s including Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico,” Michael Winner’s “Death Wish,” Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of the Condor,” Richard Flesicher’s “Mandingo,” David Cronenberg’s “The Dead Zone,” Milos Forman’s “Ragtime,” John Guillerman’s 70’s “King Kong” remake, Mike Hodges’ campy 1980 “Flash Gordon”, both the “Conan” films with Schwarzenegger, Michael Mann’s “Manhunter” and both David Lynch’s flawed “Dune” and arguably his best work to date – “Blue Velvet”.

From the late 80’s onwards, the track record became sketchier with the odd cult hit like Sam Raimi’s “Army of Darkness” or Jonathan Mostow’s “Breakdown” along with flawed but profitable films like “Assassins,” “Hannibal,” “U-571” and “Red Dragon”. There were also some notable stinkers like “Body of Evidence,” “Virgin Territory,” “Hannibal Rising,” “Maximum Overdrive” and “Cat’s Eye”.

Still, De Laurentiis leaves behind a vast legacy of films which will be remembered for many decades to come and quite a few of which have forever had an impact on cinema. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues and fans.