Benvenuti, Leo

(1923-2000)
   Screenwriter. After studying classics at university, Benvenuti teamed up with Piero De Bernardi and they began a long-term partnership working on the screenplays of Valerio Zurlini's Le ragazze di San Frediano (The Girls from San Frediano, 1954), Alberto Lattuada's Guendalina (1957) and Pietro Germi's L'uomo di paglia (Man of Straw, 1958).
   Having established a solid reputation with these early films and always as a team, Benvenuti and De Bernardi then went on to write the screenplay for Vittorio De Sica's Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style, 1964) and Alessandro Blasetti's mordant comedy, Io io io . . . e gli altri (Me, Me, Me . . . and the Others, 1966) before also working with Alberto Sordi on his Finche c'e guerra c'e speranza (While There's War There's Hope, 1974). Together they scripted the first of what would eventually be 10 films featuring the hapless character of Fantozzi for Luciano Salce, Fantozzi (White Collar Blues, 1975) and the truculent but now legendary Amici miei (My Friends, 1975), originally written for Pietro Germi but, in the event, directed after Germi's death by Mario Monicelli. In the early 1980s, while continuing their collaboration with Monicelli on Il marchese del Grillo (The Marquis Del Grillo, 1981), they also began working regularly with emerging young comic director Carlo Verdone, for whom they would write seven films, including Un sacco bello (Fun Is Beautiful, 1980), Bianco, Rosso e verdone (White, Red and Green, 1981), and Io e mia sorella (My Sister and I, 1987), the last earning them a shared David di Donatello. It was during this period that they made one of their rare excursions away from comedy when they collaborated with veteran director Sergio Leone on the screenplay of the epic gangster saga Cera una volta in America (Once upon a Time in America, 1984).
   In the 1990s they continued their partnership, writing several more of the Fantozzi films, adapting Marcella D'Orta's book for Lina Wertmuller's Io speriamo che me la cavo (Ciao, Professore, 1994) and working with Monicelli again on Cari fottuttissimi amici (Dear Goddamned Friends, 1994) and the popular television miniseries Come quando fuori piove (Hens, Ducks, Chicken and Swine, 2000). Benvenuti's last work, still together with De Bernardi, was the directorial debut of popular television satirist Piero Chiambretti, Ogni lasciato e perso (Every Dumped Boyfriend Is Lost, 2000).
   Historical Dictionary of Italian Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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