Screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni, whose nearly five-decade career included collaborations with Mario Monicelli, Pietro Germi, and Sergio Leone, died of cancer on Sunday, September 22, 2013, in Rome. Vincenzoni (born on March 7, 1926, in Treviso, near Venice) was 87.
In the late ’50s, Luciano Vincenzoni co-wrote Mario Monicelli’s The Great War / La Grande guerra (1959), a humorous (if overlong) World War I comedy-drama starring Vittorio Gassman and Alberto Sordi as reluctant conscripts that earned a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award nomination and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival (tied with Roberto Rossellini’s Il Generale della Rovere).
Vincenzoni was also partly responsible for the screenplay of two well-regarded Pietro Germi movies: the omnibus comedy of manners The Birds, the Bees and the Italians / Signore & signori (1966), featuring Virna Lisi and Franco Fabrizi, and co-winner (with Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman) of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; and Seduced and Abandoned / Sedotta e abbandonata (1964), a biting satire of Italian machismo, with Cannes’ Best Actor winner Saro Urzi brilliantly playing the Sicilian paterfamilias who will move mountains and part the seas to save the honor of beautiful teenage daughter Stefania Sandrelli — no longer a virgin and therefore unweddable.
For The Birds, the Bees and the Italians and Seduced and Abandoned, Vincenzoni shared with his co-screenwriters — Pietro Germi, and frequent partners Furio Scarpelli and Agenore Incrocci — two Silver Ribbons from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns
Thanks to the global dominance of Hollywood studios, Luciano Vincenzoni’s best-known movies internationally are two he co-wrote for Sergio Leone in the ’60s: For a Few Dollars More (1966) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1968). These were English-language Spaghetti Westerns later acquired by United Artists, which helped to launch the film career of Clint Eastwood as a latter-day William S. Hart: tall, stone-faced, deadly.
Gian Maria Volonté and Lee Van Cleef were Clint Eastwood’s co-stars in For a Few Dollars More. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Eastwood and Van Cleef were joined by Eli Wallach. Very raw and very violent (and very, very long), the Leone-Vincenzoni-Eastwood movies were major international hits.
“I have written movies that won prizes at Cannes and Venice,” Vincenzoni would later tell Sergio Leone biographer Christopher Frayling. “These were screenplays for which we suffered on paper for months. Do you know how long it took me to write For a Few Dollars More? Nine days.”
Because of money issues, Vincenzoni and Leone would have a serious falling out in later years. Leone would die in April 1989.
More Luciano Vincenzoni movies: Joseph Conrad, Arnold Schwarzenegger, killer orca
Other Luciano Vincenzoni screenwriting credits include Terence Young’s international co-production The Rover (1967), based on Joseph Conrad’s novel, and starring Anthony Quinn, Rosanna Schiaffino, Rita Hayworth, and Richard Johnson; Elio Petri’s psychological horror-drama A Quiet Place in the Country / Un tranquillo posto di campagna (1968), with Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero; and the Michael Anderson-directed critical and box office disaster Orca (1977), with Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and a pre-stardom Bo Derek featured in this rip-off of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Orca also earned Vincenzoni his sole producer’s credit, with independent mogul Dino De Laurentiis billed as the film’s executive producer.
Vincenzoni’s more recent movie credits include the story and screenplay for the Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller Raw Deal (1986), directed by John Irvin, and the original story for Giuseppe Tornatore’s nostalgic Malèna (2000), which attempted — but failed — to become another Cinema Paradiso. Monica Bellucci and Giuseppe Sulfaro starred as, respectively, the Lonely Older Woman and the Lovestruck/Lustful Teenage Guy.
Vincenzoni also collaborated with Billy Wilder on a screenplay draft for the 1972 comedy Avanti!, based on the play by Samuel A. Taylor, and eventually to star Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills. It’s unclear, however, how much — if any — of Vincenzoni’s work made into the film, ultimately credited to Wilder and frequent partner I.A.L. Diamond (The Apartment, Some Like It Hot).
Luciano Vincenzoni quote via the New York Times obit.
Clint Eastwood The Good, the Bad and the Ugly photo: United Artists.