Alberto Sordi


  1. Franco Fabrizi, I Vitelloni, Italy-France, 1953.When he couldn’t land Fausto Tozzi forthe the chief stud amongRimini’s “overgrown calves” -young bloods, idlers, drones, wastrels- the star of Federico Fellini’sfirst film, The White Sheik,pushed hard for the main skirt-chaser. But the maestrohad reservedthe mama’s boy, deliberately called Alberto, for him. Making only the thirdof his 25 screen works,Fellini went on to refuse such stars asWalter Chiari and Raf Vallone and hired the Elvis-looking Fabrizi – and then had him dubbed by Nino Manfredi.Fellini’s first global triumph was the major influence on such US treasures as American Graffiti, Bye Bye Braverman, Diner, Mean Streets, even Seinfeld.
  2. Anthony Quinn, La strada, Italy, 1953.Again Fellini kept faith with his first star and tested Sordi as the brutish Zampano… While changing producers to keep his wife, Giulietta Masina, as the waif Gelsomina (he’d created the role for her), the new, youngmaestro of the cinema Italiano visited the shooting of Peppino Amato’s Donne proibite (Angels of Darkness)… and found Quinn. Tony’s agent stupidly axed a profit-cut deal, thereby losing his client millions after Fellini 4½ became the first winner of an Oscar for a foreign language film.
  3. Richard Basehart,  La strada, Italy, 1953.    As well as Anthony Quinn, Fellini ran into Basehart at the studio – also to pick up his wife (Valentina Cortese) and drive her home.Perfect, exclaimedthe maestro, for Il Matto (The Fool) killed by Quinn’s Zampano.Basehart also starred in Fellini’s next film, Il bidone, and was even rumoured as Signora Fellni’slover.
  4. Vittoria Gassman, La Grande Guerra(US: The Great War),Italy-France, 1959.    Gassman and Sordi switched roles- odd,as they’re both cowards – in anothergreat Mario Monicelli film. (Sordi was the Italian voice of Oliver Hardy).
  5. Marcello Mastroianni, I compagni (US: The Organizer), Italy-France-Yugoslavia,1963.  Sordi stupidly rejectedone of Mastroiannil’s finest roles: because it was ananarchist and worse, shabby-looking. Director Mario Monicelli’s drama was nominated for the Foreign Film Oscar.
  6. Marcello Mastroianni, The Poppy Is Also A Flower, 1965.   UNO planned six telefilms about its work by Kubrick, Preminger, etc. Only this one was made when Terence Young gave up a third Bond gig to work with 007 creator Ian Fleming on this star-studded (Yul Brynner, Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth, Omar Sharif) battle to stop heroin reaching Europe. Fleming died before completing the script. Everyone else died on-screen.
  7. Walter Chiari, They’re A Weird Mob, 1966.     Vittorio Gassman or Sordi were the obvious Italian choices. “But once we get him out to Australia,” said UK director Michael Powell,“Chiari might be better than either.” He was.
  8. Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova), Italy-USA, 1975.     Federico Fellini’s favourite… was the star of the Italian maestro’s second movie, The White Sheik, 1952, and (against all advice), of his third, I Vitelloni, 1953, when his Italian distributors removed Sordi’s name from all posters.  “His name puts  people off.  The public don’t like him. He’s antipatico.” (Bette Davis called him Alberto Sordid!) Fellini still tested him  and  finally improved relations with Sordi, furious at losing Casanova,  by guesting as himself in the comic’s cab when Sordi directed his 14th feature,  Il tassinaro/The Taxi Driver, 1983.  Fellini’s test of Sordi as Casanova is part  of director Ettore  Scola’s wondrous film about his old friend Fellini: Che strano chiamarsi Federico, 2013.
  9. Ugo Tognazzi, Il gatto, Italy-France,1976.      Veteran Luigi Comencinidirected for a producer called Sergio Leone“It waswritten for Sordi but I realised that Tognazzi would form a better couple with Mariangela Melato.” The maestro was annoyed by a French journalist asking if he gave any tips to Comencini.“It’s more like he gaveme advice.” A good little film, Robert Altman produced Robert Benton’s re-tread, The Late Show. Sergio Leone was no fan of Altman.  And Bette Davis was no fan of Sordi. After their 1972 Rome movie, Lo Scopone Scientifico (UK/US: The Scientific Cardplayer), she called him: Alberto Sordid.




 Birth year: 1920Death year: 2003Other name: Casting Calls:  8