~ Rome and the Movies ~


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(1920 - 2003)

Rome's movie legend

A real myth for his roman fans, who call him 'Albertone', and one of the most popular Italian movie actors: during his artistic carreer, over fifty years long, he took part to over one hundred films.

Alberto Sordi was born in Rome in 1920, in Trastevere district, to a musician (a tuba player) and a teacher.
Already as a child, he sang in the Sistine Chapel's choir, and in his youth he also performed some opera plays as a bass singer.

While occasionally playing small parts in movies, he tried to enter Milan's dramatic art academy, but he was rejected because of his strong Roman dialect accent. Curiously, it was this accent that later on helped him to become so popular, thus becoming his trademark.
Thanks to his particular voice pitch, he started working in popular radio programs and as a movie dubber: for many years he was the Italian voice of Oliver Hardy.

He also worked as a vaudeville comedian in small theatres: he sang, danced, told jokes, imitated animal sounds, and so on. Reminiscences of such early artistic feats are frequently encountered among the many personages he gave life to.

He kept playing secondary roles in a number of films, until in 1951 he was chosen by Federico Fellini for the main character of The White Sheik, and his popularity started to grow.
In 1954 he created the character of Nando Mericoni in Un americano a Roma, a childish young man in post-war Rome, whose biggest dream is to live the American way of life: he clumsily pretends to be a native of Kansas City, but always ends up getting into serious trouble. The film eventually became a cult movie (Sordi was also one of the authors of the script), up to the point that soon later Alberto was officially invited to the United States, were he received a Kansas City honorary citizenship.

the myth: Nando Mericoni

one of his latest
public appearances
Commonly known as a comic actor, as many of his well-known films are comedies, Sordi has played a great number of different characters (often named Alberto, like himself); nevertheless, some of his roles have also been very serious or dramatic, but never lacking a touch of Roman humor.

His films usually carry elements of social satire, sometimes mild, sometimes very bitter; he liked to play a typical middle class Italian, with many defects and few good qualities.

Even after becoming a famous actor, Alberto remained rather fond of singing, one of his first activities: very often he sang short tunes in TV show appearances, in commercials, and even in a few films he played in; some of them have satirical or nonsense lyrics, which he wrote himself together with composer Piero Piccioni.

Despite having had flirts with several actresses during his life, Alberto Sordi never got married:  Why should I put a stranger into my home? was his famous comment about this issue; I already have a family: my mother and father, my sisters, my brother, my film editor, my secretary, my press agent. Is this not a family?

Being extremely jealous of his private life, spent in the large house, elegantly furnished, where he lived together with his sisters, and the roles he usually played in his films, led many people to believe he was a miser and somewhat misanthropic, although this never affected his immense popularity. Instead after his death, the public learnt that Alberto had been giving funds to charity for years, keeping it as a secret, not to have any publicity in return. A foundation named after him is presently financing five projects in Africa.

One of his great passions was Rome's football team, which he was a big fan of. In quite a few films he appeared in, the character is a football fan and this sport is somewhat involved in the script.

Having been directed by important Italian directors, such as Federico Fellini, Ettore Scola, Cesare Zavattini, Mario Monicelli, Vittorio De Sica, Luigi Comencini, his films sometimes have a rather important cast; he also personally directed some of his movies.

Among the famous national and international stars he worked with, the most outstanding ones are Vittorio Gassman, David Niven, Claudia Cardinale, Bette Davis, Monica Vitti, Bernard Blier, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Silvana Mangano, Shelley Winters, and several others.

Thos who would like to see some of his films should better choose the original version: since one of Sordi's best qualities was his voice, the dubbing would surely spoil most of his appeal.

at the beginning of his
carreer, in a vaudeville show

~ Disclaimer about copyright over stills ~
According to articles 87 and 92 of the Italian law dated April 22, 1941, n. 633 and following modifications, the stills from movie pictures filmed in Italy become public domain as of the beginning of the solar year following the twentieth year after the public release of the movie itself.

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