In the middle he was the protagonist of some of the most famous comedies of Italian cinema, acting for everyone, from Federico Fellini to Vittorio De Sica, from Dino Risi to Ettore Scola, and especially for Mario Monicelli, who directed it in some of his films most famous. His characters were often similar and detestable, representing what are more or less rightly still defined as “the vices of the Italians”: arrogant, ignorant, somewhat vulgar, of questionable moral principles, but always staged that way absolutory and good-natured typical of the Italian comedy. And thus becoming a symbol of a type of representation of the country and of cinema models that many wanted to overcome: like Nanni Moretti, for example.
Deaf was born in Trastevere, and as a young man he threw himself into opera singing, and then began to study acting: in the mid-thirties he moved to Milan to attend the Accademia dei Filodrammatici, from which, however, he was expelled due to excessive accent Roman. His first role was as an appearance in the blockbuster Scipio the African, and before he really became an actor he was a voice actor, among others by Oliver Hardy. The first notoriety came from the radio, but to have the cinematographic one, he had to go through a long series of minor or at least secondary parts, in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Then they came The white sheikh is The veal of Fellini, and from then on Sordi built the fame and the character he would play in most of his films. Along with comedies like An American in Rome, The widower or The policeman, he also made more serious and dramatic films like The big war, A difficult life and especially Inmate pending trial, one of the few where his part was serious and dramatic, for which he won the Silver Bear in Berlin. The Marquis del Grillo, released in 1981, was perhaps his last highly successful film: for over ten years he was also a director, an activity that kept him increasingly busy in the following two decades.
He died before turning 83 due to complications of lung cancer: his funeral was held in San Giovanni in Laterano. A banner pulled by a small plane passed over the basilica: “Sta vorta, you have plagued!”
To the workers from I vitelloni (1952)
Mericoni Ferdinando, Innocente from A day in the trial court (1953)
Macaroni from An American in Rome (1954)
Roman and Milanese from The great war (1959)
With Vittorio De Sica from The Vigilant (1960)
“Resistance has no value?” from A difficult life (1961)
“It’s Doctor Jekyll” from The complexes (1965)
“It’s good” from Inmate pending trial (1971)
Brother mason apprentice from A small middle class (1977)
“I know I” from The Marquis del Grillo (1981)