- Vanzina, Stefano
- (1917-1988)Screenwriter and director. Although probably best remembered for a string of delightful comedies that he directed during the early 1950s, Vanzina, better known as Steno, was a professional and versatile director who could work comfortably in a variety of genres.While studying law at the University of Rome, Vanzina became one of the animators of the satirical magazine Marc'Aurelio. In the late 1930s, together with a number of other writers from the magazine, he began to work as a screenwriter, helping to pen a series of films directed by Mario Mattoli and featuring popular comic actor Erminio Macario. In the immediate postwar period he continued to work as a screenwriter before making his own directorial debut in 1949 with Al diavolo la celebrita (A Night of Fame, 1949), the first of nine films that he would direct in partnership with Mario Monicelli. In the same year, together with Monicelli, he directed Toto cerca casa (Toto Looks for an Apartment, 1949), the first of thirteen films he would make with master comic actor Toto, which would include the much-acclaimed Guardie e ladri (Cops and Robbers, 1951), nominated for the Grand Prize at Cannes, as well as Toto a colori (Toto in Color, 1952), the first Italian film to be made in color. After L'uomo, la bestia e la virtu (Man, Beast and Virtue, 1953), an adaptation of a play by Luigi Pirandello that featured Orson Welles in one of the major roles, Vanzina directed the now-legendary Un americano a Roma (An American in Rome, 1954), the film that first showcased the comic talents of Alberto Sordi.While he continued to show a marked propensity for the comic genre throughout his career, in the early 1970s Vanzina also made a foray into the gangster genre with Cose di Cosa Nostra (Gang War, 1971) and directed several tense police thrillers, the best known being La polizia ringrazia (Execution Squad, 1972). He scored one of his biggest successes of the 1970s with Febbre da cavallo (Horse Fever, 1976), a film set in the world of horse racing. In the late 1980s he returned to the police thriller with six films made for television, featuring the maverick police commissioner Jack Clementi, also known as the Professor.
Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.