Dino Risi’s comedies are a devilish piece of work, lampooning the politicians, playboys, and priests of postwar Italy. Together with Mario Monicelli, Luigi Comencini, and Ettore Scola, Risi (1916–2008) enjoyed tremendous commercial and critical success during “Il Boom,” the Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s. At his best, Risi was a caricaturist in the vein of Honoré Daumier, using exaggerated grotesqueries to sweeten the bitterness of his social satire. His films are populated by a rogue’s gallery of shamelessly lovable commedia all’Italiana types in the inimitable guises of some of the era’s greatest actors: Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi, Ugo Tognazzi, and Sophia Loren.
Presented by MoMA in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, this major retrospective opens with the New York premiere of the new 4K restoration of The Easy Life (1962). Newly struck 35mm prints of 14 other Dino Risi films are featured, including Poveri ma belli (1957), The Widower (1959), and Scent of a Woman (1974). Additionally, the retrospective offers a deeper appreciation of the Milanese writer-director’s career by premiering recently rediscovered documentaries that he made, literally, in the ashes of World War II—Neorealist portraits of Lombardic and Neapolitan street life and culture between 1946 and 1950. Also included are such underappreciated gems as Love and Larceny (1960), March on Rome (1962), The Thursday (1966), and In the Name of the Italian People (1971), all presented in 35mm archival prints.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà. Special thanks to Sergio Toffetti, Director, Cineteca Nazionale; and Janus Films.