Famed producer Dino de Laurentiis has died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.
Producer of over one hundred films, the list of talent de Lauretiis worked with over his career is staggering. He helped bring the work of an array of legendary filmmakers to the big screen including Federico Fellini ("La Strada," "Nights Of Cabiria"), Milos Forman ("Ragtime"), Ingmar Bergman ("The Serpent's Egg"), Sidney Lumet ("Serpico"), Sydney Pollack ("Three Days Of The Condor"), William Friedkin ("The Brink's Job"), Ridley Scott ("Hannibal"), David Cronenberg ("The Dead Zone"), Michael Mann ("Manhunter") and even Sam Raimi ("Army Of Darkness") among many others.
But not everything de Laurentiis touched turned to gold as David Lynch's "Dune" and Sergei Bondarchuk's "Waterloo" rank among his biggest box office failures (with the latter's failure putting the kibosh on Stanley Kubrick's "Napolean"). But he also had an uncanny knack for knowing what audiences craved and "Conan The Barbarian," "Death Wish" and the 1976 remake of "King Kong" show a smart producer who could make genre material work in a big way.
"Making movies is all about instinct," he said in a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "Nobody taught Picasso how to paint -- he learned for himself. And nobody can teach you to be a producer. You can learn the mechanics, but you can't learn what's right about a script or a director or an actor. That comes from instinct and intuition. It comes from inside you."
The producer's ambitions were always big as he launched a production facility Dinocitta in the 1960s and formed the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group in the 1980s. And while they failed to last, they indicated a producer who was ever restless, pursuing greater and grander projects.
The Academy recognized de Laurentiis' contribution to film, presenting him with the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award in 2001. De Laurentiis represented an old school style of producing, one that combined hubris, fearlessness, impeccable taste and a knack for knowing what audiences wanted to see. His was a career that opened early doors for international stars and gave visionary directors a home; he will be missed. [SF Chronicle]