Alberto Grimaldi: Homage to a Great Producer By Oscar Peyrou

in 52nd Valladolid International Film Festival

by Oscar Peyrou

The 52nd Valladolid International Film Week (Seminci) scheduled a very interesting retrospective of the Italian producer Alberto Grimaldi, a key figure in the gestation of some of the most famous films ever. The season included 16 films of Grimaldi’s vast production which covered all the genres: from spaghetti-western to comedy, from drama to adventure, from romance to thriller.

Born in Naples in 1925, Grimaldi produced Sergio Leone’s most famous films and several great movies by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Gillo Pontecorvo, Bernardo Bertolucci and Martin Scorsese, among many others. The producer selected 16 films to show in this festival that he considered the most representative among his 78 productions. Presently he is 82 years old and still works on what he most enjoys: the seventh art, at his home in Monte Carlo.

The films selected by Grimaldi were produced in the 60’s and 70’s. Titles such as the segment Toby Dammit of the trilogy Spirit of the Dead (Histoires extraordinaires), Fellini’s Satyricon, Decameron (Il Decameron), The Canterbury Tales (I racconti di Canterbury), Last Tango in Paris (Ultimo tango a Parigi), Fellini’s Casanova (Il Casanova di Federico Fellini), 1900 (Novecento) and Gangs of New York were among them.

According to what he recounted in some interviews, Grimaldi’s career as a producer started out almost by chance. He was a lawyer for the big American production companies and earned their confidence and sympathy after winning a litigation case for them against the Italian State. In 1962, joining forces with his wife, he created a production company called “Produzioni Europee Associati” (PEA), one of the first companies for co-productions in the European market.

His first works were low budget films, particularly the very popular spaghetti-western. He was very successful and therefore he could reach a higher level when he started collaborating with Sergio Leone. This very successful working relationship allowed him to concentrate on auteur films, thus meeting Fellini, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Pontecorvo and Scorsese, among other directors, and he started working with them.

Of all the films he produced, Grimaldi is especially proud of Last Tango in Paris (1972). The censorship of the times made it very hard to finish it but the result, in the Italian producer’s opinion, was optimum. The novelty and originality of this film revolutionized the conceptions and the way of working of its time.

The retrospective of Grimaldi joined other parallel cycles designed to pay tribute to costume designers, to celebrate historical films and to remember the most interesting films that feature confrontations between lawyers and public prosecutors.