100th anniversary Sordi show at his Rome villa

From March to June this year

(ANSA) - Rome, January 3 - The Alberto Sordi Museum and Foundation said Friday it would hold a show marking the 100th anniversary of his birth in the great actor's Roman villa from March to June this year.
    The foundation proposed the exhibit and the administration of Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi agreed to it, the foundation said.
    The show will be in "various areas of the villa," the foundation said.
    It will be a multimedia show.
    A pavilion set up in the square in front of the villa will show various Sordi films for free.
    Veteran comic actor Sordi died on February 25 2003 at the age of 82.
    Known affectionately to his fellow Romans as Albertone (Big Albert), Sordi was an icon of Italian comic cinema, playing in some 200 films in a career that spanned almost 65 years and covered the golden age of the country's post-war cinema.
    While best known for humorous portrayals that played up his Roman accent, Sordi gave some memorable performances in more dramatic roles and even stepped behind the camera, directing almost 20 films as well as collaborating on the screenplays of many more.
    Born in Rome on June 15, 1920 (although some sources give his birth year as 1919), Sordi showed a passion and talent for the stage at an early age.
    He began acting in amateur theatre productions when he was 12 and a year later, as a podgy teenager, was discovered in an Oliver Hardy impersonation competition sponsored by Hollywood's MGM.
    In 1937, while studying acting at Rome's Academy of Dramatic Arts and playing cabaret in the capital's music halls, Sordi made his screen debut with a small part in Il Feroce Saladino, a film directed by Mario Bonnard.
    A slightly more substantial role followed in 1938, with the costume drama La Principessa Tarakanova by Mario Soldati and Fyodor Otsep.
    In the 1940s, he began working in radio, keeping up the Hardy connection by dubbing the American comedian's voice into Italian.
    Laurel and Hardy comedies were among the few Hollywood efforts not banned by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and Sordi's version of 'Ollie', which involved speaking Italian with a broad English accent, was an instant hit, entering Italian popular culture and winning the actor national recognition.
    After a string of comic and dramatic parts that chronicled and mirrored post-war Italy, Sordi's film career finally took off in 1952, when directing legend Federico Fellini picked him for one of the leads in Lo Sceicco Bianco (The White Sheik).
    Fellini returned to Sordi for his next film I Vitelloni (1953), in which the actor's portrayal of an overaged adolescent won him star status.
    In 1954, Sordi created one of his best-known characters - Nando Moriconi in Steno's cult film Un Americano A Roma starring Ursula Andress. Sordi plays a childish young Roman whose dream is to live the American way of life, leading to the farcical pretence that he is a native of Kansas city.
    Sordi, who collaborated on the script of the movie, was subsequently invited to the US where he was made an honorary citizen of Kansas City.
    Another memorable role was in Il Conte Max, by Giorgio Bianchi, in which Sordi played alongside matinee idol and award-winning neorealist director Vittorio De Sica.
    A remake of the 1937 hit movie Il Signor Max, Sordi takes the part that was played by De Sica in the original - that of a Rome newspaper vendor who unsuccessfully attempts to shed his working-class roots and enter the world of the well-to-do.
    Sordi went on to dominate the 'Commedia all'Italiana' genre, his good-natured fun-poking at the shortcomings of the petit bourgeois establishing him as the comic conscience of the Italian people.
    His trademark role was that of the flawed lower-middle class Roman, who manages to win the audience over despite or because of his foibles and vices.
    At a presentation last year focusing on his long career, Sordi stressed that "my films were deliberate and never chosen at random. They had to reflect the reality of Italian life." "I began offering my own stories based on what I saw around me. I tried to show up in a funny way our personal vices and those of our institutions," he said.
    This helps explain his refusal to attempt a career in Hollywood. Although he played opposite David Niven in the war film The Best of Enemies (1962) and was the stereotyped Italian pilot in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), he turned down most English-language offers including one from American director Billy Wilder.
    "I prefer to recount Italian customs and habits and so I refused Wilder and similar offers from abroad," Sordi told reporters recently.
    Among his more 'serious' roles, Sordi is remembered for his part as the coward-turned-hero in Mario Monicelli's acclaimed 1959 war film La Grande Guerra (The Great War).
    Monicelli made use of Sordi's dramatic talents again in his 1977 film Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo (An Average Little Man), featuring Albertone as a meek and mild middle-aged man who takes justice into his own hands after his only son is killed in an armed robbery.
    Sordi accumulated numerous awards in his long career, including a Golden Globe in 1964; the Silver Bear at the 1986 Berlin Film Festival; a David, Italy's equivalent of the Oscar, in 1994 for his career; a Golden Lion for career achievement from the Venice Film Festival, and the Charlot (Charlie Chaplin) award for his work in comedy.
    Sordi's directing ventures failed to win the acclaim accorded him for his work in front of the camera. The last movie in which he appeared, the 1998 romantic comedy Incontri Proibiti with Italian starlet Valeria Marini, was directed and co-written by Sordi but failed to do well at the box office.
    Legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren today paid a moving tribute to Sordi, who co-starred with her in the 1954 Mario Mattoli film Two Nights with Cleopatra.
    "The death of Alberto is one of the saddest things of my life," said the 68-year-old screen beauty.
    "He was one of our greatest ever comic actors and leaves behind a nostalgic and melancholic longing for past times," she said.
    Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni highlighted Sordi's status as the Roman par excellence, saying the city's inhabitants would deeply "mourn and miss an artist who more than any other interpreted with intelligence and love the richness of life and the contradictions of our society." On his 80th birthday, in June 2000, Rome city hall paid tribute to the perennial bachelor by making him mayor for the day.
    In seeking to explain the secret of his success and popularity, Sordi told his fans last year that "I have been no virtuoso but I have known how to talk in a natural way as ordinary people do.
    "I am not the type of actor who can be given orders on how to move and what to wear. A typical actor puts himself at the disposal of others. Not I, never, not because I am conceited or spoiled but because I would not be able to play a character."

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