** Please note that Furio Scarpelli was a writer for the Toto who appeared in SOUND ERA comedies, not the Toto (1888 - 1938) who appeared in SILENT Hal Roach comedies. -- Paul E. Gierucki
April 30, 2010
Furio Scarpelli, Screenwriter of Italian Comedies, Dies at 90
By DAVE KEHR
Furio Scarpelli, a screenwriter who wrote dozens of the Italian cinema's
most caustic and celebrated comedies in a 36-year partnership with
Agenore Incrocci, earning three Oscar nominations, died on Wednesday at
his home in Rome. He was 90.
The cause was heart failure, his son Matteo Scarpelli told The
Mr. Scarpelli and Mr. Incrocci (who died in 2005 and was known as Age),
billed as "Age and Scarpelli," collaborated on a series of comedies that
simultaneously satirized and celebrated the average Italian's capacity
for survival under adverse, rapidly changing circumstances - from the
chaos and devastation left behind by World War II to the greed and
materialism engendered by Italy's "economic miracle" of the 1950s and '60s.
They worked with all the major directors who made up what came to be
known as the "Commedia all'italiana" movement, including Mario Monicelli
(in the 1958 film "I solti ignoti," which became an international hit as
"Big Deal on Madonna Street"), Pietro Germi ("Seduced and Abandoned,"
1964), Dino Risi ("I Mostri," 1963), Luigi Comencini ("Tutti a casa,"
1960), and Ettore Scola ("We All Loved Each Other So Much," 1974).
Mr. Scarpelli and Mr. Incrocci received Academy Award nominations for
"The Organizer" (1963) and "Casanova '70" (1965), both directed by Mr.
Monicelli. In 1996 Mr. Scarpelli was one of five writers nominated for
an Oscar for the adapted screenplay of "Il Postino," directed by Michael
Radford, about a friendship between the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and a
In 1966, Age and Scarpelli were among the four writers who contributed
to "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," directed by Sergio Leone, perhaps
the most famous of the spaghetti westerns that carried the cynicism of
Commedia all'italiana into an imagined Old West.
The son of Filiberto Scarpelli, the editor of a satirical Roman
newspaper, Mr. Scarpelli began his career, like his contemporary
Federico Fellini, as a cartoonist. He met Mr. Incrocci in 1949 when both
men joined the writing team of the great Neapolitan clown Totò.
Together, they led the rubber-faced comic through a series of popular
films that spoofed movie clichés ("Totò le Moko," 1949; "Totò Tarzan,"
1950) and occasionally tackled social issues. ("Totò cerca casa" found
the comedian searching for shelter in overcrowded Rome.)
But the team came into their own with the more coolly satirical,
disillusioned brand of comedy that solidified as Italy recovered its
Their work helped to turn Vittorio Gassman from a blandly handsome
juvenile lead into a charmingly diabolical embodiment of sleek
self-interest in films like Mr. Risi's "Love and Larceny" (1960) and Mr.
Monicelli's "Great War" (1959). And Alberto Sordi represented the
sweaty, middle-class male, ready to do anything to avoid slipping back
into poverty in Age and Scarpelli scripts for films like Alberto
Lattuada's "Mafioso" (1962) and Elio Petri's "Teacher from Vigevano"
The team separated in 1985 but both men continued to write.
Besides his son Matteo, Mr. Scarpelli is survived by his wife and
another son, whose names were not immediately available.
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