Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Saturday, 7 June 2008 15:41 UK

Italian director Dino Risi dies

Dino Risi in an undated photo from the 1970s
Mr Risi's Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman) was remade with Al Pacino

Italian director Dino Risi, who was nominated for two Oscars for the 1974 film Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman), has died in Rome aged 91.

Mr Risi, who was known as one of the masters of Italian comedy, had been suffering ill-health for some time.

He made more than 50 productions, many focusing on his country's society in the boom years after World War II.

Italy had lost "a noble and vital father of its cinema and its culture", said Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno.

"His legacy is pages of minute work by someone who loved the world and his country," he added.

"We have lost one of the masters of the most beautiful and intense seasons of the Italian comedy, which gave the world so much."

Medical background

Born in Milan in 1916, Mr Risi became an orphan at the age of 12 and was looked after by relatives and friends of his family.

He studied medicine - his father had been the doctor at La Scala opera house in the Italian city - before working as an assistant director to cinema figures such as Mario Soldati and Alberto Lattuada.

Dino Risi in 2002
Mr Risi was "one of the masters" of Italian comedy, Rome's mayor said
Then he began directing his own films and was credited with giving early opportunities to future acting stars such as Sophia Loren and Vittorio Gassman.

Among Mr Risi's most famous works were Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life) and Poveri ma Belli (Poor Girl, Pretty Girl).

Profumo di Donna (Scent of a Woman) told of an army captain blinded during the war who used his sense of smell to identify types of women.

The original film was shortlisted for the Oscars for best foreign-language movie and best adapted screenplay, while a remake earned Al Pacino an Academy Award for acting in 1993.

Mr Risi received a Golden Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival six years ago and continued working into his eighties.

However he once described his sadness that many of his friends and colleagues in the industry had passed away.

"There should be a law that everyone dies at 80," he said.

He told an interviewer several years ago that he was "curious about death".

"I expect some surprises. Life, after all, is not all it's made out to be," Mr Risi said.

Country profile: Italy
31 May 08 |  Country profiles


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