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Giuliano Montaldo, Italian director of ‘Sacco & Vanzetti’ and ‘Machine Gun McCain,’ dies at 93


Giuliano Montaldo, the admired Italian filmmaker who wrote and directed Sacco & Vanzettistarring John Cassavetes Machine gun McCain and every episode of the 1982 big budget miniseries Marco Polo, has passed away. He was 93.

Montaldo died at his home in Rome on Wednesday, his family announced.

His big screen resume also featured The reckless one (1965), starring Renato Salvatori; grand slam (1967), starring Janet Leigh; Giordan Bruno (1973), starring Gian Maria Volonté and Charlotte Rampling; And Agnes chose to die (1976), starring Ingrid Thulin; And The glasses with gold rim (1987), starring Philippe Noiret, Rupert Everett, Stefania Sandrelli and Valeria Golino.

Of the twenty films Montaldo directed, sixteen were set to music by Ennio Morricone; no other director collaborated with the famous composer anymore.

Montaldo was also president of the Italian RAI Cinema from 1999 to 2004.

Montaldo’s gangster story Machine gun McCain (1969), which also starred Britt Ekland, Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk, and Sacco & Vanzetti (1971), about the Massachusetts trial and 1927 execution of accused Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (played by Riccardo Cucciolla and Volonté, respectively), both vying for the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

He wrote and directed all eight episodes of Marco Polo, produced by RAI and NBC. The riveting miniseries, starring Kenneth Marshall and starring Denholm Elliott, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Burt Lancaster, Ian McShane and Leonard Nimoy, aired in 46 countries and won two Emmy Awards.

Born on February 22, 1930 in Genoa, Montaldo performed in his hometown in “mass theater” shows organized by the Communist Party, which, as he often said, “had more people on stage than in the audience.”

He was noticed by Carlo Lizzani and got roles in the directorial films Achung! Bandits! (1951), starring Gina Lollobrigida and Andrea Checchi, ed Chronicle of poor lovers (1954), then promoted to assistant director.

One of the best commercials in Italian cinema of his time, Montaldo worked for director Gillo Pontecorvo on features such as Wide Blue Road (1957), Kapo (1960) and the complex documentary style The Battle of Algiers (1966), an influential political film.

Pontecorvo also wanted him to play the leader of the French paratroopers Algierswhat he didn’t want to do.

“Finally I took him aside and said, Gillo, listen: the whole movie you hear about this parachutist leader, Colonel Mathieu. Everyone is afraid of him, everyone is waiting for him, the public expects to see a fierce fighter coming,” he recalled.

“Now imagine a screening on a Saturday afternoon at the Adriano in Rome. Everyone is scared, waiting for this Mathieu to show up, and when he appears, someone in the theater shouts, “It’s that jerk Montaldo, look!” and the cinema erupts with laughter. Is that what you want? Eventually he changed his mind.” (The role would go to French actor Jean Martin.)

Montaldo made his directorial debut with Shoot pigeons (1961), starring Jacques Charrier and playing in competition at the Venice Film Festival, and would be his last film The entrepreneur (2011), starring Pierfrancesco Favino.

He also accompanied operas by, among others Turandot in 1983, Trovatore in 1990, Bohemia And Othello in 1994, The Magic Flute in 1995, Nabucco in 1997 and Tuscany in 1998.

At the 2007 David di Donatello Awards, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Survivors include his wife Vera, daughter of famous Italian actress Vera Vergani; daughter Elisabetta; and grandchildren Inti and Jana.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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