Ugo Tognazzi

  1. Clint Eastwood, Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars, Italy-Spain-West Germany,1964.    After many dashed hopes, rising maestro Sergio Leone finally found a producer with money to spend…but onlyif the mainroles went to Toggnazi and (hot singer) Vianello.The producer actually thought that Sergio’s version of Kusosawa’s Yojimbo was… a big comedy.
  2. Franco Nero,  Bitka na Neretvi (US: The Battle of Neretva), Yugoslavia-Italy-West Germany, US, 1967.  For his country’s most expensive  movie  of his  three month 1943 battle(shot over 16 months!)  to rescue his country from Nazi occupation, the Yugoslav president Tito wanted  an international sta4r cast. And got it it: Bondarchuk, Brynner, Koscina, Welles, … but not Tognazzi, who was working . Tito didn’t get a UK release, either.

  3. Adriano Celentano, Le cinque giornate (US: The Five Days),  Italy, 1973.      When all the soldi went to the distributor of their Er Più, storia d’amore e di coltello, 1970, a furiousdirector Dario Argento and his producer-father, Salvatore, decided to work on their own.  With something in the same vein: an historical Milan comedy. With Nanni Loy directing Tognazzi. Except, Ugo was committed all over the place and Loy got tried of waiting. Plan B was Dario directing Celentano again. 
  4. Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova), 1975.    With his second producer Andrea Rizzoli Rizzoli (son of La Dolce Vita producer Angelo Rizzoli) in 1974, Fellini shot tests of certain actors as the older Casanova – before settling for one actor  as young and old.  The testees were Tognazzi and Alain Cuny (from La Dolce Vita), Alberto Sordi (from the Italian maestro’s second movie, The White Sheik, 1952,  – and Vittorio Gassman, a previous Italian screen Casanova in Il Cavaliere misterioso, 1948. But never Marcello Mastroianni – who was later rewarded with an older Casanova in La nuit de Varennes, 1981, directed by his (and Fellini’s) old friend, Ettore Scola. Tognazzi’s (boisterous) test was seen in Scola’s wondrous film about his pal Fellini, Che strano chiamarsi Federico, 2013.   Fellini also saw but never tested the “pretentious and stupid” Gian Maria Volontè. Finally, all Italians were dropped as this was billed as Felliini’s first film in English.
  5. Oleg Yankowskiy, Nostalghia, Italy-Russia, 1982.         Andrei Tarkovsky, hailed as the finest Russian film-maker since Sergei Eisenstein, was making his first film outside of the motherland. And that is what it and his future short life – was all about. “That state of mind peculiar to our nation which affects Russians far from their native land.” He never returned home  and “the stifling sense of longing that fills the screen was to become my lot for the rest of my life.” The narrative (or dream?) follows a Russian poet and his Italian translator researching the life of an 18th Century composer in Tuscany. The poet was planned for Kaidanowsky (barred from leaving Russia) or his Anatoliy Solonitsyn, who died prematurely from cancer. Italian money meant Marcello Mastroianni and Ugo Tonazzi had to be considered. There was a moment when the couple would be Jean-Louis Trintignant and Fanny Ardant but they switched to Truffaut’s finale, Vivement dimanche!  A lucky break for Yankowskiy, making up for 1976 when Tarkovsky had offered him merely Laertes in a Hamlet staging, with the main role (then as now) given to his greatest rival, Solonitsyn. The director made one more film before his death in France in 1986. Ingmar Bergman hailed him as “the most important director of all time…. the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”
  6. Freddie Jones, E la nava va/And The Ship Sails On, Italy, 1983.     On the European short-listdrawn up(literally) by the Italian maestro Federico Fellini.

 Birth year: 1922Death year: 1980Other name: Casting Calls:  6