Dino De Laurentiis, the flamboyant Italian producer with over – films to his credit, died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills, CA. His filmography was a widely diverse one, with movies such as Federico Fellini’s two landmark films La Strada (1954) and Nights Of Cabiria (1957) to gritty 70s thrillers like Serpico (1973) and Three Days Of the Condor (1975) to more cult favorite fare like Flash Gordon (1980) and Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s breakthrough Conan The Barbarian (1982). He was 91.
Although he started his career prior to the outbreak of World War Two, De Laurentiis’s career began to take off in the post-War years. The two Fellini films he produced helped launch the Italian New Wave. He also was one of the first European producers to take advantage of the decline of the traditional Hollywood studio system to get his own films into American theaters. By using relatively cheaper local labor, De Laurentiis had enough money in any particular film’s budget to afford a big American star to play the lead, insuring a sale to the States-side market.
However, a changing political climate within the Italian Socialist government which saw many of the film-based tax subsidies disappearing among other contributing factors lead De Laurentiis to close his Rome-based production facility Dinocitta, and relocate to the United States.
From an office in New York City, De Laurentiis would produce a string of hits through the 1970s including Serpico, Death Wish (1974), Three Days Of The Condor, John Wayne’s last film The Shootist (1976) and the first remake of King Kong (1976). But for all his success, De laurentiis had some costly flops, including King Of The Gypsies (1978) and Hurricane (1979). Further financial strains such as an underutilized studio built in North Carolina caused further financial strain, leading the producer to sell off the rights to some of his older films in order to finance new ventures.
De Laurentiis cruised through the 1980s and early 90s on the strength of several adaptations of the works of horror novelist Stephen King. He also produced the the third installment of the Evil Dead franchise, Army Of Darkness (1992).