Giuliano Montaldo, the prolific Italian director, actor and film industry executive, whose works comprise powerful political drama “Sacco and Vanzetti” about the Massachusetts trial and execution in 1927 of accused Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, has died at his home in Rome. He was 93.
His death was announced Wednesday by his family and reported by multiple Italian media outlets. No cause of death was revealed.
Born in 1930 in Genoa, Montaldo was still a Turin university student when, in 1950, director Carlo Lizzani gave him a role in the film “Achtung Banditi!.” Montaldo then moved to Rome in 1954, where he worked as a journalist for Italian newspaper Il Tempo and after a few years decided to pursue a filmmaking career.
Montaldo cut his teeth as a director working as an assistant to Lizzani and then to Gillo Pontecorvo, Sergio Leone, and Francesco Rosi, learning the ropes from some of the masters of Italian cinema.
In 1960 he made his directorial debut with “Tiro al piccione,” a drama about the partisan Resistance that launched in competition from the 1961 Venice Film Festival. With his second feature “The Reckless” (“Una Bella Grinta”) about a social climber in Italy during the postwar economic miracle, he won the special jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1965. That year Montaldo directed the second unit of Pontecorvo’s masterpiece “The Battle Of Algiers.”
“Sacco and Vanzetti,” which went to Cannes in 1971, stars the late Gian Maria Volonté as Vanzetti, while Sacco was played by Riccardo Cucciolla, who won the best actor award at Cannes for this role.
The film’s musical score was composed and conducted by Ennio Morricone, plus there is a locally famous three-part ballad sung by Joan Baez. “Sacco and Vanzetti” was the second part of Montaldo’s so-called “Trilogy of Power,” also comprising “The Fifth Day of Peace” (1970), about German army deserters who were tried and executed by Nazi prisoners in a Canadian prisoner of war camp, and “Giordano Bruno” (1973), a chronicle of the trial for heresy by the Roman Inquisition of the eponymous 16th century philosopher and scientist.
In 1982 Montaldo directed the Emmy Award-winning mini-series “Marco Polo,” co-produced by Italy and China which played on NBC in the U.S.
Later in his career Montaldo was appointed he first president of RAI Cinema, the film arm of Italian state broadcaster RAI, a position he held between 1999 and 2004.
“Giuliano Montaldo has been a great director and artist, an intellectual and a man with an extraordinary vigor,” said current RAI Cinema CEO Paolo Del Brocco in a statement. “But for RAI Cinema he was more than anything else a father.”
Montaldo is survived by his wife Vera Pescarolo, his daughter Elisabetta and his two grandchildren Inti and Jana Carboni.
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