Continued from page 1

In 1950, he went into business with another rising director, Carlo Ponti. They soon dominated the Italian movie business, monopolizing top stars such as Mangano, Sophia Loren (who later married Ponti) and Marcello Mastroianni. Their first international production was the epic “War and Peace” (Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer) in 1955.

With the lure of huge salaries, he often imported international movie stars to boost a film’s prospects. For Fellini’s “La Strada,” which won the Academy Award for foreign language film in 1957, he persuaded Anthony Quinn to come to Rome. De Laurentiis also produced Fellini’s “Nights of Cabiria,” which won the foreign film Oscar a year later.

At Dinocitta, De Laurentiis married Hollywood stars with spectacle: “Barrabas” (Quinn); “The Bible” (George C. Scott, Ava Gardner); “Anzio” (Robert Mitchum); “Waterloo” (Rod Steiger). He also made more offbeat fare, such as Roger Vadim’s sex romp, “Barbarella” (Jane Fonda).

De Laurentiis was one of the first producers to understand the box-office potential of foreign audiences, and helped invent international co-productions, raising money by pre-selling distribution rights outside North America.

He began to move away from his base in Italy in the 1960s when the government changed the rules to mandate totally Italian productions to qualify for subsidies. He sold Dinocitta to the government in 1972. He relocated the studio in Wilmington, N.C., and dubbed his production company the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

The Oscar-winning “Serpico,” in 1973 with Al Pacino, was De Laurentiis’ Hollywood debut. Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish,” Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor” and John Wayne’s last film, “The Shootist,” followed.

He often stayed loyal to young, talented directors, even though the results weren’t always strong. He made “Buffalo Bill and the Indians” with Robert Altman. Even after Michael Cimino’s huge flop “Heaven’s Gate,” De Laurentiis made “Year of the Dragon” and “Desperate Hours” with him. Despite the failure of “Dune,” he stuck with David Lynch and two years later produced the acclaimed “Blue Velvet.”

De Laurentis also continued to be a small factory for tackiness. Though he had earlier worked with revered filmmakers such as Victorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini and Ingmar Bergman, some of his schlock included the plantation drama “Mandingo,” the horror film “Amityville II,” the cult comedy “Army of Darkness” and Madonna’s “Body of Evidence.”

Though flops like “King Kong” and “Hurricane” could be shaken off, personal tragedy took its toll. In 1981, his son Federico was killed in a plane crash. Mangano, his wife of more than four decades, died in 1989.

De Laurentiis, close to 70, was undaunted and started over. Within two years, he had a new wife, 29-year-old Martha Schumacher, formed a new company and started producing moneymakers again.

“My philosophy is very simple,” he once said. “To feel young, you must work as long as you can.”

___

Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome, Colleen Barry in Milan, Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle and Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York, and former AP writer Candice Hughes contributed to this report.