Italian film director Dino Risi dies

ROME Sat Jun 7, 2008 7:44pm EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - Film director Dino Risi, who chronicled the bittersweet and lighter side of Italy's post-war economic boom, died on Saturday. He was 91.

Risi was known as one of the masters of the Commedia all'Italiana (Italian comedy). He had been ill for some time and died in a Rome residence where had lived for years.

Among the most famous of his more than 50 films were Poveri ma Belli (Poor but Beautiful), Belle ma Povere (Poor Girl, Pretty Girl) and Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life).

Il Sorpasso (1963) was the story of a hedonist played by Vittorio Gassman who travels around Italy in a sports car with a shy student played by Jean-Louis Trintignant.

His 1974 film Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman), won two Oscar nominations. It told the story of an army captain left blind by the war who tours Italy with an aide using his highly developed sense of smell to identify types of women.

It was remade in the United States in 1992 in a version starring Al Pacino.

In 2002 Risi was given the Golden Lion award for his career at the Venice Film Festival.

He continued working into his 80s, joking about getting old and the prospect of death.

"I am curious about death. I expect some surprises. Life, after all, is not all it's made out to be," he told an interviewer several years ago.

As he saw many of his friends and colleagues from the movie world die before him, he once said: "There should be a law that everyone dies at 80."

He was one of the directors who helped advance the careers of stars such as Gassman, Sophia Loren, and Marcello Mastroianni.

Risi was born in Milan into a well-to-do family. His father was the doctor at the famed La Scala opera house.

He was left an orphan at the age of 12 and raised by relatives and family friends.

Risi studied medicine and worked with directors including Mario Soldati, Alberto Lattuada and Mario Monicelli before directing his own films.

"His legacy is pages of minute work by someone who loved the world and his country," said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno. "We have lost one of the masters of the most beautiful and intense seasons of the Italian comedy, which gave the world so much."

Reuters/Nielsen

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