There are few producers who've made as much shlock as Dino De Laurentiis. Yet somehow he lobbied the Academy to give him the Irving Thalberg Award in 2001.
About 98% of the films that Dino's got his name on are bloody awful, notes journalist Jeffrey Wells. Exceptions include Fellini's La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, King Vidor's War and Peace, Edward Dmytryk's Anzio, Ingmar Bergman's The Serpent's Egg, Milos Forman's Ragtime, David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone, David Lynch's Blue Velvet, Michael Mann's Manhunter, Jonathan Mostow's U-571, and Ridley Scott's Hannibal.
The Thalberg Award is supposed to honor "creative producers whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion-picture production."
Critics Harry and Michael Medved call Dino "Dino Di Horrendous" in their 1980 book "The Golden Turkey Awards."
Wells writes that director Bruce Beresford, De Laurentiis' wife Martha and daughter Rafaella led the lobbying push with the Academy.
"The idea that he could campaign for it and get it tells you a lot," one producer told Wells.
The award has previously gone to Saul Zaentz, Clint Eastwood, Warren Beatty, and George Lucas.
Well writes: "By honoring Dino, the Academy is saying in effect that all the other "European-styled" producers who've either modeled themselves on De Laurentiis, or can be seen as carrying on his somewhat oily tradition — guys like Elie Samaha, Andy Vajna, Mario Kassar, Avi Lerner, Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus, etc. — can probably qualify for their own Thalbergs one day."
Dino De Laurentiis was born 8/8/19 in Torre Annunziata, Campania, Italy. Serg Pageen writes on Imdb.com: "Education: Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Rome Was married: Silvana Mangano Four children. Second daughter: Rafaella De Laurentiis Produced several prestigious Italian films in collaboration with Carlo Ponti in the 1950s, before turning to grandiose international productions. After the failure of his massive Dinocitta studio De Laurentiis moved to the US. His taste for overblown spectacle has led to some expensive failures (HURRICANE, 1979, TAI-PAN, 1986), though he was also behind such critically lauded productions as RAGTIME (1981) and BLUE VELVET (1986). In 1984 De Laurentiis unveiled the DEG (DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group) Film Studios in Wilmington, NC, but the venture was a failure and its founder bowed out in 1988. Rafaella De Laurentiis, the second of his four children with actress Silvana Mangano, is a Hollywood-based producer who formed her own company in 1987."
After serving in the Italian army during World War II, De Laurentiis returned to filmmaking. His first hit was the 1946's Bitter Rice. He later married its star, Silvana Mangano. They lasted fifty years until Silvana's death by cancer in December, 1989.
Dino formed a partnership with Carlo Ponti and they produced several hits, including movies by Federico Fellini.
Leaving Ponti, De Laurentiis built his own studio, called Dinocitta. After a string of flops, it closed. Dino moved to the US in the 1960s. He created a film production studio (DEG Studios) in Wilmington, North Carolina. It eventually closed.
Luke to a movie producer: "Tell me about producer Dino De Laurentiis."
Producer: "He's very short. I walked in his office. He immediately made me sit down. He can't deal with me standing over him. I knew another short producer in London who had a couch down near floor level so people wouldn't tower over him."