Film Season - Marcello Mastroianni
The Latin Lover
Pasquale Iannone celebrates the life of Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni as a retrospective of his work arrives in Scotland
The son of a carpenter, Mastroianni trained as a draughtsman and served time in a Nazi labour camp during the war. Upon his release, he became involved in amateur dramatics. He made his film début in Riccardo Fredda’s I Miserabili (1948) and, at around the same time, legendary Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti offered him the chance to join his theatrical troupe. The actor featured in productions of As You Like It, A Streetcar Named Desire and Death of A Salesman. ‘Visconti gave me my first chance in the theatre,’ Mastroianni commented. ‘In terms of acting, he taught me most of what I know.
‘If Visconti was the teacher, the professor, then Fellini was my classmate.’ The director’s wife Giulietta Masina with whom Mastroianni had previously worked first introduced the pair. Despite the producers’ hankering after a Hollywood star, Fellini insisted Mastroianni play the lead in his new film La Dolce Vita (1960).
‘Fellini took my career to another level,’ Mastroianni admitted, ‘He gave me the possibility to play to an international audience.’ On his part, Fellini called his cinematic muse ‘a dear, loyal friend, one of those friends you only find in novels or in some of those great American films of the 1930s.’
For Hollywood, Mastroianni was the ‘Latin Lover’, a label that never failed to embarrass him. ‘I have an almost masochistic pleasure in challenging and demolishing my stereotyped film persona. I’ve played a homosexual, an impotent man, even a pregnant one.’
‘Working in Hollywood didn’t really interest me,’ he reflected some time later, ‘because from Antonioni to Fellini, Ferreri to Angelopoulos, I got the chance to work with some of the great European directors.’
The Mastroianni season starts on Sat 19 Apr with La Dolce Vita.