Vittorio De Sica

(1901—1974) Italian film director and actor

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Italian film director and actor.

Born in Sora and raised in Naples, De Sica turned to acting after working in an office and having completed his military service. His film career moved through three distinct phases, from light comedy as an actor, to his most creative phase as a director in the school of neorealism, and finally to big box-office successes.

His first film as an actor was L'Affaire Clémenceau (1922); during the twenties he made a name for himself on both stage and screen. His real break as a film actor, however, came with Gli uomini che mascalzoni (1932), after which he acted in numerous films right through to the 1970s.

As a director his first ventures were the comedies Maddalena zero in condotta and Teresa Venerdì (both 1941). But it was his films made in collaboration with scriptwriter Cesare Zavattini (1902– ) that produced the best in Italian neorealism. These included Sciuscia (1946; Shoeshine) and Ladri di biciclette (1948; Bicycle Thieves), the last of which won an Academy Award and numerous other prizes. Other films in this phase were Miracolo a Milano (1950; Miracle in Milan) and Umberto D (1952).

During the sixties he made many box-office successes with Sophia Loren, including the Oscar-winning La ciociara (1960; Two Women), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), and Marriage Italian Style (1964). De Sica had his last major success with Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1971; The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), which won an Academy Award as best foreign language film.

Subjects: Literature — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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