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MARCELLO MASTROIANNI by Donald Dewey

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI

His Life and Art

By Donald Dewey

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55972-158-8
Publisher: Birch Lane Press

 Flawed but still head-and-shoulders above most film bios, a life of the Italian actor that focuses largely on his art but that soft-peddles the nitty-gritty of everyday life. Dewey wrote the novel Reasonable Doubts (1991). Mastroianni, born in 1924 in a small town 50 miles south of Rome, herein speaks with considerable self-understanding and depth whenever Dewey quotes him from interviews over the decades--quotes that make up about a third of the text. The actor has played leading men in nearly 140 European movies, involving himself in such a variety of roles that Europeans broadly see him as the greatest living actor--and from this rehearsal of Mastroianni's talents, the Europeans may be right. He has consistently, until 1990, refused to play in Hollywood films, in part because the Hollywood scripts sent to him always called for him to be a Latin lover. His one American film, last year's Used People, which allowed him to play with Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Tandy, and Kathy Bates, failed at the box office and his personal reviews in it weren't much better. Dewey follows the hero's passage from early triumphs on the Italian stage through his smaller roles in his first 15 films, then into his hits, Big Deal on Madonna Street, La Dolce Vita, and Divorce, Italian Style, and his friendship with Federico Fellini, whom he ``played'' in Fellini's semiautobiographical 8-ยด. The actor in no way sees himself as a great lover and admits to experiencing trouble ``down there'' (a passing impotence). Even so, his 40-year marriage to Flora Carabella has survived affairs with Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve (with whom he has a daughter), and others in his search for the ideal woman--who usually turns out to be the worst. Intermittent stops for Dewey's head-stuff on Mastroianni's art or character sometimes inspire but can also bog down. Overall, though, a generally well-told life. (Photos)