The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in association with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, presents ‘Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man‘, a retrospective celebrating the renowned Italian actor, screenwriter, and director Ugo Tognazzi (1922–1990). With screenings December 5–30, 2018, in the Roy and Niuta Titus Theatres, the series features 25 of Tognazzi’s nearly 150 films over a four-decade career, including his unforgettable, award-winning performances in Luciano Salce’s ‘The Fascist’ (1961); Carlo Lizzani’s ‘La Vita agra’ (1964); Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Porcile’ (1969); four films with director Marco Ferreri, including ‘La Grande Bouffe’ (1973); Elio Petri’s ‘Property Is No Longer a Theft’ (1973); Mario Monicelli’s ‘Amici miei’ (1975); Édouard Molinaro’s ‘La Cage aux folles’ (1978); and Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man’ (1981), which opens the retrospective. ‘Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man’ is organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà.
Tognazzi was among the inimitable quintet of actors from Italian cinema’s golden age — Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, and Nino Manfredi — who invented and popularized the Commedia dell’Italia genre, a tragicomic mixture of folly and melancholy, and commanded the lion’s share of Italy’s box-office receipts in the 1960s and ’70s. Tognazzi’s career began opposite Raimondo Vianello in satirical sketch comedies of fledgling 1950s Italian television — his gifts of impersonation and improvisation are hilariously on display in films like Dino Risi’s ‘I mostri’ (1963) and Luigi Zampa’s ‘A Question of Honor’ (1965) — and deepened as his roles, in later years, became more acidic and introspective.
Joshua Siegel observes, “If a typical Tognazzi character was virile and dissolute, sweet-talking his way into beds, executive offices, and corridors of power, he was also confronted with the sinking awareness of his own mortality. One witnesses in this retrospective, then, a man’s seemingly inexorable passage from brash ambition to bitter regret, a man seeking to preserve his dignity in the face of diminishing prowess.”
Roberto Cicutto, CEO of Luce Cinecittà, states, “We are grateful to The Museum of Modern Art for providing a platform for Italian films. This important retrospective, ‘Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man’, features 25 films celebrating the brilliant career of one of Italy’s finest actors. Maria Sole Tognazzi represents the family, and her documentary, Ritratto di Mio Padre (Portrait of My Father) is featured in the retrospective.”