Mario Monicelli was born in Rome on May 16, 1915. Italian writer, director and screenwriter, Monicelli was among the most famous Italian directors. Together with Dino Risi and Luigi Comencini, one of the main directors of the Italian comedy, which helped to make itself known abroad with films such as Cops and Robbers, Big Deal on Madonna Street, The Great War, The Incredible Army of Brancaleone and My Friends.
Six-time Oscar nominee (twice for original screenplay, four times for best international film) and winner of numerous film awards. In 1991 he received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice International Film Festival.
Mario Monicelli’s Youth
Mario Monicelli was born in Rome on May 16, 1915 into a family from Ostiglia. His father, Tomaso Monicelli, was a journalist, director of the Resto del Carlino as well as of Avanti! , theater critic and playwright. Monicelli was also linked to the Mondadori family: his father’s sister, in fact, was the partner of Arnoldo Mondadori and Monicelli himself claims to have been a friend of Alberto and Giorgio Mondadori.
Monicelli spent his youth in Rome, then moved with his family to Viareggio. He attended the gymnasium and two years of high school in Prato, at the Cicognini National Boarding School. He then settled in Milan, where he finished his 3rd high school and also began university studies. In Milan Monicelli frequented Riccardo Freda, Remo Cantoni, Alberto Lattuada, Alberto Mondadori and Vittorio Sereni; together they started, with the support of the Mondadori publisher, the newspaper Camminare, in which Monicelli dealt with film reviews. Monicelli told exactly how, in his criticisms, he was extremely ruthless on Italian cinema, while he adored the French and American films. Perhaps he was doing it for a veiled form of anti-fascism.
Later, Monicelli returned to Tuscany, where he completed his university research, graduating from the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy of the University of Pisa. Intrigued by the world of celluloid. In 1934 he made his “very first cinematographic experiment”, or the short film Revealing heart, inspired by the homonymous work by Edgar Allan Poe, together with Alberto Mondadori and Alberto Lattuada, with the latter in the role of set designer. The film was branded as an example of “paranoid cinema”.
Mario Monicelli’s Beginnings in Cinema
Help Alberto Mondadori to make his first feature film, I Ragazzi della via Pal (1935), based on the Hungarian novel by Ferenc Molnár, also made as part of the Milanese Cineguf. The film was sent to the Venice International Film Festival, wins the first prize and gives the opportunity to make a professional film. Monicelli was thus able to avoid the numerous stages of specialist training and was sent, together with Mondadori, to work in the production of Gustav Machatý Ballerine, which took place in Tirrenia.
He approaches the world of cinema thanks to the relationship with Giacomo Forzano, founder of the Pisorno film studios in Tirrenia, a mix of the names of the cities of Pisa and Livorno, which Mussolini intended to create. In recent years that certain Tuscan spirit has taken shape in Monicelli which will be decisive for the cinematographic poetics of the director’s comedies: many of my Amici’s jokes are episodes that are actually part of his youth.
Immediately afterwards Monicelli found work, again as an assistant, in Augusto Genina The white squadron. Later he will play the same role of assistant in several films, including Corrado D’Errico of the Castiglioni brothers; on the set he met Giacomo Gentilomo, with whom he made 2 films, La granduchessa si entertain and Cortocircuito, in which he formally held the position of assistant director as well as co-screenwriter for the first time.
Under the pseudonym of Michele Badiek, in 1937, he directed the amateur film Pioggia d’estate. The film, in which Monicelli was appointed director and screenwriter, saw the participation of his family, friends and fellow citizens. It was an important experience for his training where he learned to “write for the cinema, to shoot, to direct the actors, and to understand that what he organized every day did not correspond at all to concrete reality. In the meantime he was also assistant to the Spanish actress María Mercader, fiancée of Vittorio De Sica. Monicelli was sent the following year to Naples to leave for the war in Africa. He managed to avoid boarding until on 8 September he took off his uniform and fled to Rome, where continued to hide in the following months.
In the semi-autobiographical work L’arte della comedia, Monicelli says he continued to be in the army from 1940 to 1943, trying to prevent his transfer, fearing being sent first to Russia and then to Africa, until the military retreated, at which point he left for Rome. He continued to hide until the summer of 1944. In Rome he often visited the Osteria Fratelli Menghi, a well-known meeting point for painters, directors, screenwriters, writers and poets between the forties and seventies.
Among the occasions that marked his life, one was undoubtedly the suicide of his father, Tomaso Monicelli, popular chronicler and anti-fascist writer, which took place in 1946. Of this he said: “I understood his gesture. He was unjustly cut off from his work, even after the war was over, and he felt he had absolutely nothing left to do here. If life stops being dignified it’s not worth it, life isn’t always worth living .. I found myself my father’s body. Around 6 in the morning I heard a gunshot, I got up and opened the bathroom door. Among other things, an extremely small bathroom. “
The First Films of Mario Monicelli
In 1945 Monicelli is assistant to Pietro Germi for the film Il testimone. In The Art of Comedy Monicelli says that a deep bond had been established between him and Germi, he specified: “I think I am one of the few true friends with whom he had confidence.” he told of two epi firm. When Germi entered a period of crisis after the death of his wife, he called Monicelli to direct the film he was preparing (Signore & Signori, 1966), informing him that he could no longer direct it; Monicelli liked it a lot, but he refused it and pushed Germi to make his own film. The other episode was when Germi, unable to make the film Amici My due to illness, called Monicelli to replace it.
In 1946 Monicelli was chosen, together with Steno, by Riccardo Freda for the screenplay of the film Black Eagle. The film was very successful and the Monicelli-Steno couple were called to create the lines for the film Come persi la guerra by Carlo Borghesio, produced by Luigi Rovere; from that film Monicelli and Steno signed a series of film scripts. The collaboration with Steno, which will last until 1953, will surely create some of the most fascinating post-war films.
Monicelli also devoted himself to the theater, both in prose and in verse, especially in the 1980s. For TV he made the short film Do you really know Mangiafuoco? (1981), with Vittorio Gassman, The naive wife and the sick husband (1989) and Come when it rains outside (2000), while as a documentary he made A magical friend: the master Nino Rota (1999) and also several collective films. Monicelli occasionally lent himself as an actor: The cheerful sidewalk of crimes (1979), Under the Tuscan sun (2003), SoloMetro (2007).
Monicelli in the 2000s
Monicelli interpreted the style and contents of the Italian Comedy. His favorite actor was Alberto Sordi, who he immediately transformed into a star in The Great War and also in An Average Little Man, but he also had the merit of finding the extraordinary comic skills of 2 dramatic actors, Vittorio Gassman in Big Deal on Madonna Street and Monica Vitti in The girl with the pistol. The bitter smile that always accompanies his stories, the irony with which he loves to outline the losing characters, have constantly identified his work. It is probably no coincidence that many film critics consider I soliti ignoti the first true Italian comedy, and Un borghese piccolo piccolo the work that, with its dramatization, closes the cycle of this film genre.
With the advancing age Monicelli slowly decreased his activity without ever interrupting it, thanks to a constantly good physical and psychological shape. As proof of this, at the age of 91 he returned to the cinema with an unreleased film, The desert roses (2006). On the occasion of its launch, in a meeting with Gigi Marzullo, he confided that he was not worried about death, but that he greatly feared the moment when he would stop working, as he would be extremely bored.
In a meeting in 2008 he declared that he had definitively abandoned his activity as a director with the short documentary Near the Colosseum … there is Monti. Despite this, in 2010 he made The new Brancaleone army, a short film in protest against cuts to culture and education. In the same year he took part in the production of the short film The Last Gypsy, a tribute to his film Amici mie.
His last partner was Chiara Rapaccini, whom he met when he was 59 and she too was 19. They had a daughter, Rosa, when she was 34 and he was 74. In 2007 he declared that he lived alone, that he did not he missed the children and grandchildren, of being an elector of the Communist Refoundation and of having cried for the last time at the death of his father, while in an interview he revealed, in particular, the reason why he lived alone at 92 years:
“To stay alive as long as possible. The love of women, loved ones, daughters, wives, lovers, is really dangerous. Woman is a nurse of the soul, and if she has an old man neighbor is always ready to interpret his every wish, to bring him what he needs. So little by little this old man does nothing, he stays in an armchair, he doesn’t move anymore and ends up being a stoned old man. old is required to do things alone, make the bed, u scire, turn on the stove, undress, has 10 more years of life.
In a television interview he takes dark and very critical positions towards modern society: “Hope is a trick, it’s a bad word, it shouldn’t be said. Hope is a trap created by the bosses, those who tell you” Shut up, stop talking, pray that you will surely have your ransom, your reward in the afterlife, so now be good, go home. “[…] Never have hope, hope is a trap invented by those in charge.”
“What actually never existed in Italy is a great strike, a great revolution, a revolution that never happened in Italy … In England, there was in France, in Russia, in Germany, a little everywhere except in Italy, so something is needed that genuinely redeems these individuals who in reality have always been subjected, indeed they have been everyone’s servants for 300 years.
Monicelli, now seriously ill, has decided to take his own life by throwing himself from the window of the room that he was employed in urology, on the 5th floor of the San Giovanni Addolorata hospital, where he was hospitalized.After the civil commemorations held in his Roman home in the Monti district and at the Casa del Cinema, his body was cremated.
Mario Monicelli’s Masterpieces
In Mario Monicelli’s filmography, between ups and downs, there are certainly some cinematographic masterpieces internationally recognizedMaster above all in the genre of comedy, Monicelli however reaches his artistic peak with a dramatic and tragic film, even if still endowed with the elements of the Italian comedy: Un borghese piccolo piccolo. At the same level are his other films such as A Difficult Life and others. Let’s see which ones.
Cops and Robbers (1951)
Cops and Robbers (1951), with Totò, a film that won the prize for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. It was produced by Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti and played by Totò and Aldo Fabrizi. The film, which is part of the existing neorealist current, is one of the most vital works born from the creative collaboration between the directors Monicelli and Steno, as well as among the best films with Totò.
Ferdinando Esposito is a petty scammer who tries to support his family members with his scams. With his partner, Amilcare makes believe that he has found an old coin in the Roman Forum and deceives Mr. Locuzzo, an American traveler who, unfortunately for Esposito, is the head of state of an American charity committee. During a diffusion of some gift packages in which Esposito also participates, Mr. Locuzzo identifies him and reports him.
In L’arte della commedia Monicelli specifies that the collaboration with Steno was interrupted during the making of the films Le infedeli and Totò e le donne. Both films had to be scripted and directed by Steno and Monicelli jointly, yet in reality Monicelli only dealt with The Infidels due to the fact that he was tired of making only comedy films; Steno instead took care of Totò and women. Monicelli was also a screenwriter together with Federico Fellini and Pietro Germi.
Totò and Carolina (1955)
4 years later Monicelli reverses the roles: in Totò and Carolina (1955) Totò is no longer a policeman but a thief, and the censorship of the time did not take well the irony on the police: the film often had heavy cuts, just as, although nowadays the original duplicate has actually been recovered, it remains to be transmitted in the censored and polluted version by a crazy title imposed by the censors of the time, derogatory towards Totò.
Plot: The film is a brilliant comedy that tells the story of Carolina, portrayed by Marisa Merlini, a young woman from a good family who falls in love with Totò, played by the renowned comedian Totò. The social difference between them becomes an obstacle to their relationship, but Carolina is determined to marry Totò, despite her family’s objections. The plot follows the misadventures of the couple as they try to overcome social obstacles and live their love story.
Review: “Totò and Carolina” is a classic Italian comedy, known for Totò’s humor and his brilliant performance. The film addresses themes of social differences and love against social conventions. The chemistry between Marisa Merlini and Totò adds to the charm of the story. It’s a fun and lighthearted film that has continued to be beloved by Italian audiences for generations.
Fathers and Sons (1957)
In 1957 Monicelli won the award for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival with Fathers and sons.
Plot: The film tells the story of two Italian families coming together for a dinner. The families represent two different generations with opposing worldviews and lifestyles. During the dinner, generational conflicts, clashes of ideals, and different ways of approaching life surface. The film explores the gap between the fathers’ expectations and the desires of their sons.
Review: “Fathers and Sons” is known for its storytelling about family and generational dynamics. The film provides a reflection on the Italian society of the time and the challenges that arise between different generations. Mario Monicelli is known for his skill in Italian comedy, and this film is an example of his talent in staging both humorous and dramatic situations within an Italian family.
Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)
Considered the “reference point” of his filmography was Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), a film that started the “Italian comedy” genre. The usual unknowns, of which Monicelli was a screenwriter together with Age and Scarpelli and Suso Cecchi D’Amico, overturned for the first time the dialectic of the guards and thieves with which Monicelli himself had created the representation of the relationship between authority and freedom, between justice feint and real survival of the humblest. With Big Deal on Madonna Street Monicelli consequently abandoned the antagonistic dialectic between policemen and lawbreakers, representing only the mild, disconcerting side of a group of potential thieves doomed to failure.
Plot: The film tells the story of a group of amateur thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store in Rome. However, due to their inexperience and clumsiness, things don’t go as planned. The gang is made up of memorable characters, each with their own personality and weaknesses. The plot is a brilliant comedy that unfolds with comedic situations as the thieves attempt to carry out the heist.
Review: “Big Deal on Madonna Street” is a masterpiece of Italian comedy, known for its clever humor and exceptional performances by the cast. The film offers satire on society and dreams of wealth through the failures of its protagonists. It is considered one of the most representative films of the Italian comedy genre and has left a lasting mark on the history of Italian cinema.
The Great War (1959)
The following year it was the turn of The Great War (1959), which won the Leone d’Oro ex aequo with Roberto Rossellini with General Della Rovere and obtained an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film.
The Great War, far from the timeless stereotypes of comedy, passes from one extreme of the tragicomic register to various others, addressing a painful and complex subject like the First World War, and is also embellished by the memorable interpretations of Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman.
Plot: The film is set during World War I and follows the adventures of two Italian soldiers, Oreste Jacovacci and Giovanni Busacca, portrayed respectively by Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman. The two are very different: Oreste is a naive farmer, while Giovanni is a more educated and cynical city dweller. They are drafted into the Italian army and sent to the front lines. The plot depicts their misadventures, daily challenges, and struggle to survive in a context of absurd and destructive warfare.
Review: “The Great War” is one of the most beloved and acclaimed Italian films of its time. It is known for its balance of comedy and drama as it explores the theme of war. The performances of Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman are exceptional and contribute to the film’s success. The film offers a realistic view of soldiers’ lives during wartime, and its blend of humor and pathos makes it a classic of Italian cinema.
The Organizer (1963)
Monicelli was in 1963 the author of the film The Organizer, which obtained the 2nd Oscar nomination, the one for the best screenplay. The Organizer, a film on the background of trade unionism and workers, is little known to the public but highly appreciated by film critics (with Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori and Annie Girardot).
Plot: The film is set in Turin, Italy, in 1898, and it tells the story of a professor, portrayed by Marcello Mastroianni, who tries to organize a strike among the workers in a textile factory. The factory is characterized by grueling working conditions and excessive exploitation of the laborers. The professor, a left-wing intellectual, commits to mobilizing the workers and helping them improve their living and working conditions. The plot follows the process of organizing the labor movement and the challenges the workers face as they seek better rights and working conditions.
Review: “The Organizer” is an important film that explores the social and political themes of the labor movement in Italy at the end of the 19th century. Marcello Mastroianni’s performance is remarkable, and the film offers a realistic view of the struggles and difficulties that workers faced during that historical period. Mario Monicelli’s direction is acclaimed for capturing the atmosphere of the time and the fervor of the labor movement. It’s a film that reflects on the importance of organization and solidarity among workers.
In the 1960s Monicelli also devoted himself to anecdotal films: Boccaccio ’70 (1962), Alta infidelity (1964) and Capriccio all’italiana (1968), although the episode he directed in Boccaccio ’70 was cut from producer Carlo Ponti, sparking the protest of the Italian directors who decided to boycott the Cannes Film Festival of 1962, which should have been inaugurated by this film.
For Love and Gold (1966)
In The Incredible Army of Brancaleone (1966) Monicelli presents a medieval tragicomic tale. The film is selected at the Cannes Film Festival.
Plot: The film is a medieval comedy that follows the adventures of the knight Brancaleone da Norcia, portrayed by Vittorio Gassman. Brancaleone is a reckless yet unlucky knight who takes charge of a diverse group of adventurers in search of a castle to settle down in. Throughout their journey, they encounter a series of comedic situations and eccentric characters.
Review: “For Love and Gold” is a classic Italian comedy with often grotesque humor and hilarious situations. Vittorio Gassman delivers a memorable performance as Brancaleone, and the film is known for its uproarious scenes and comedic antics. It blends a medieval setting with sarcasm and social satire. The film has become a cult classic in Italian cinema.
The Girl With the Pistol (1968)
Among other notable films worthy of mention The girl with the pistol (1968), third Oscar nomination.
Plot: The film follows the story of Rosalba Barletta, portrayed by Monica Vitti, a young Sicilian woman living in London. After being raped by a fellow countryman, Rosalba decides to seek revenge and embarks on a journey across Europe to find her attacker and kill him. Over the course of her journey, Rosalba transforms from a timid and submissive woman into a strong and determined one.
Review: “The Girl with a Pistol” is known for being a dark and satirical comedy that tackles themes of revenge, women’s emancipation, and cultural differences. Monica Vitti delivers an outstanding performance as the main character, and the film blends elements of dark humor with a reflection on Rosalba’s personal growth. The film has been appreciated for its unique storytelling and bold approach to social and gender issues.
We Want the Colonels (1973)
In 1973 the film We want the Colonels was selected at the Cannes Film Festival.
Milan: an explosive device collapses the Madonnina del Duomo in Milan, causing a wave of indignation throughout the nation as well as abroad. The assault was organized by conservative extremists because of the left, but the Hon. Giuseppe Tritoni, who belongs to the conspiracy, ends to break with its political party. The “Great Right” actually remains the search for a project of insertion into the system, realizing itself as the celebration that desires “freedom in order and also order in freedom”.
Come Home and Meet My Wife (1974)
“Come Home and Meet My Wife” is an Italian film directed by Mario Monicelli in 1974.
Plot: The film tells the story of Michele, portrayed by Ugo Tognazzi, a middle-aged clerk leading a rather monotonous life with his wife, Elena, played by Ornella Muti. One day, Michele receives a mysterious letter inviting him to attend an exclusive gala evening at a luxurious villa. Convinced it’s a mistake, Michele decides to go anyway and experiences an extraordinary evening. However, when he returns home and shares his experience with Elena, things become complicated, and his life takes an unexpected turn.
Review: “Come Home and Meet My Wife” is an Italian comedy that explores themes of desire, betrayal, and redemption. The film is known for Ugo Tognazzi’s performance and how it addresses the challenges of marital relationships. Mario Monicelli provides engaging storytelling, and the film offers a reflection on the complexity of family dynamics and human desires. It’s a movie that blends humor with a deep exploration of characters.
My Friends (1975)
The film was directed by Pietro Germi, who had no chance to make it due to an illness. The opening credits of the film, in fact, paid homage to the screenwriter with the words “a film by Pietro Germi” and shortly after the writing “directed by Mario Monicelli” appeared.
Plot: The film follows the lives of a group of middle-aged friends living in Tuscany. These friends, portrayed by famous actors like Ugo Tognazzi and Gastone Moschin, lead eccentric lives and often indulge in pranks and quirky behaviors. Despite their differences in personality, they are bound by a strong friendship. The plot explores their adventures, laughter, and the challenges they face in middle age.
Review: “My Friends” is a classic Italian comedy loved for its clever humor and exceptional performances by the cast. The film offers an affectionate and often touching portrayal of friendship among middle-aged men. Mario Monicelli creates an engaging narrative that blends comedic moments with reflections on life and friendship. The film has become a landmark in the genre of Italian comedy.
Dear Michele (1976)
Dear Michele earned Monicelli the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1976.
Plot: Michele appears to be involved in the tumultuous political and student protests of 1968. He flees Rome and escapes to London, leaving behind even his ailing father, who passes away in the hospital without the chance to see him again. Despite the geographical distance, he maintains correspondence with his mother, sisters, and friends. Additionally, he has a hidden submachine gun removed from the basement where he used to live, instructing others to take care of Mara, a woman with whom he had a relationship, although it’s unclear if she is the mother of his child.
An Average Little Man (1977)
The following film, shot in the height of the italian lead years, is a masterpiece: it tells the drama based on a work by the writer Vincenzo Cerami: An Average Little Man (1977) is a profoundly significant work, international respect to the tragicomic comedies of previous and subsequent works.
Plot: The film tells the story of Giovanni Vivaldi, portrayed by Alberto Sordi, an ordinary and middle-class man leading a quiet life with his family in Rome. His life is shattered when his son is killed in an attempted robbery. Overwhelmed by grief and anger, Giovanni decides to seek revenge, embarking on a relentless hunt for his son’s killer. In the process of vengeance, Giovanni discovers a dark side of himself that he never imagined he had.
Review: “An Average Little Man” is an Italian drama known for Alberto Sordi’s powerful performance and its poignant exploration of themes of grief, revenge, and morality. The film highlights how a personal tragedy can radically transform a person and drive them to unthinkable actions. Mario Monicelli’s direction and Sordi’s performance combine to make the film an intense and memorable work.
Lovers and Liars (1979)
“Lovers and Liars” is an Italian film directed by Mario Monicelli in 1979.
Plot: Guido Massaccesi, a bank executive from Rome, receives distressing news from his sister Oriana about their father Armando’s grave illness. Without hesitation, he temporarily leaves behind his wife Elisa and their son, embarking on a journey to Rosignano Solvay, their hometown, in a majestic Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Determined to make the journey less lonely, Guido initially plans to visit Jennifer, his mistress whom he hasn’t seen in months. However, Jennifer’s unequivocal refusal to accompany him forces him to change his plans. Instead of Jennifer, Guido decides to bring Anita Watson, a young twenty-something American who came to Rome in search of an Italian architect she met in Chicago.
The film originates from a treatment written in 1957 by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli, with a contribution to the script by Pier Paolo Pasolini. This treatment was inspired by Fellini’s journey the previous year, coinciding with the death of his father. Currently, the treatment remains unpublished in Italy, with the only available edition in English. It is one of the three major “journeys” conceived by Fellini, along with “Mastorna” and “Tulum,” which unfortunately never came to fruition on the big screen.
In 1989, in an interview with Virgilio Fantuzzi for La Civiltà Cattolica, Fellini confessed: “The cinematic subject, perhaps the most beautiful one I ever wrote, but which I never realized, was titled ‘Viaggio con Anita.’ I sold it many years later, somewhat reluctantly, to Grimaldi, who had it brought to life by Monicelli, but it turned into something completely different. If I have one regret, it’s related to not having completed that film.”
The Marquis of Grillo (1981)
The Marquis of Grillo (1981), who also makes use of an extraordinary interpretation by Alberto Sordi. The Marquis del Grillo won him the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 1982 Berlin Film Festival.
Plot: Papal Rome, 1809. The Marquis Onofrio del Grillo, Roman nobleman at the court of Pope Pius VII, spends his days, which always begin in the late morning (with the servants of the royal residence required not to make any kind of sound until he gets up), in total laziness, often visiting taverns, cultivating stories of clandestine love with ordinary people and maintaining a rebellious perspective in the eyes of the mother and conventional, tyrannical and even bigoted kinship.
Review: “The Marquis of Grillo” is an Italian comedy beloved for Alberto Sordi’s outstanding performance as the marchese. The film offers an affectionate and often comedic portrait of an aristocrat who defies the social conventions of his era. The story is filled with hilarious situations and provides a reflection on the society of the time. Marchese Onofrio del Grillo has become one of the most iconic characters in Italian cinema.
Let’s Hope It’s a Girl (1985)
In the Eighties and Nineties the director’s gaze changes once again: from the male chauvinism of Amici mie to the exaltation of the feminine contained in the work Let’s Hope It’s a Girl (1985), with which he returned to obtain great honors from film critics and also from the public.
Plot: A group of women live in a farmhouse in the Tuscan countryside. Elena, a sensible and energetic lady, runs the farm, while the practical and intelligent maid Fosca is the true tutelary deity of the house, offering service to all. Fosca takes care of 2 little girls, her daughter Immacolata and also Elena’s niece, Martina who is the daughter of Claudia, a famous actress residing in Rome, who for narcissism and need for work abandoned the child leaving her to her sister Elena.
The next Parenti serpenti (1991) presents family members through conflicts between generations, culminating in a heartbreaking and jaw-dropping finale.
Plot: The party is about to be celebrated. In Sulmona four boys, together with their respective families, meet in their parents’ house: Saverio, deputy sergeant of the off-duty carabinieri currently suffering from mild senile dementia, and also Trieste, still energetic and also lively.
The family unit is made up of the following characters: Lina, a neurotic woman who works in the municipal library of Teramo, her husband Michele, surveyor of the same municipality, hunter, fan of the Pescara team and Christian Democrat and her son Mauro; Milena, a housewife enthusiastic about TV quizzes, depressed by her sterility, and her spouse Filippo, an important air force marshal in Rome.
Review: At the heart of ‘Parenti Serpenti’ (1992) stands a dining table, the centerpiece of a small bourgeois family. They are all ready for the most exaggerated outbursts of emotions, be it tears, theatrical protests, or convulsive aggressiveness, all mixed with a false sweetness. This family, seemingly united in their selfishness and victim-like attitudes, is unhappy and troubled. They are bombarded by the chatter of tabloids and television, but this does not absolve them. On the contrary, here Monicelli’s stern instinct comes forward, a family not to be absolved at all but to be exploded, without hesitation.
And the film’s story is narrated from the perspective of a young teenager who observes the adults with still innocent eyes, although in his seemingly simple objectivity lies the desire for rebellion and, at the same time, compassion.
Dear Goddamned Friends (1994)
In 1994 he made the grotesque Dear Goddamned Friends, starring the Genoese Paolo Villaggio. The film, shown at the Berlin Film Festival in the same year, wins the Silver Bear.
Plot: Tuscany, August 1944. War operations have moved further north and, amidst the devastation, an elderly Genoese ex boxer gathers a group of young people with the aim of setting up a company itinerant of boxing shows, to scrape together some money.
Along the way, they are joined by an American black man, escaped from a prison camp and also with deserter aspirations, a former accomplice, the ex-girlfriend of a Communist and even a dog. Between liberation parties, impromptu meetings, armed peasants and partisan weddings, the group will finally try to return to Florence.
Desert Roses (2006)
“Desert Roses” is a 2006 film, the last one directed by Mario Monicelli, loosely inspired by the novel “Il deserto della Libia” by Mario Tobino and the song “Il soldato Sanna” from Giancarlo Fusco’s work “La guerra d’Albania.” The title of the film derives from the mineral formation of gypsum known as the “rose of the desert.”
Plot: Libya, summer 1940. During the North African campaign, a medical unit of the Italian Royal Army (the Minotaur) sets up camp in Sorman, a remote oasis in the Libyan desert. The war there seems distant, and everyone seeks diversion as best they can: Major Strucchi writes letters to his young wife, Lieutenant Salvi pursues his hobby of photography. Together with an Italian friar, the soldiers begin providing assistance to the local population in need of medical care. They all believe the war will end soon, and they will be home for Christmas. However, the moment of the British counteroffensive arrives, forcing them to confront the harsh reality of war.