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Ugo Tognazzi: Tragedies of a Ridiculous Man

December 05, 2018 – December 30, 2018

The Museum of Modern Art

The great Italian actor, director, and screenwriter Ugo Tognazzi (1922–1990) was among the inimitable quintet of actors from Italian cinema’s golden age—Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, and Nino Manfredi—who invented and popularized commedia dell’Italia, that tragicomic admixture of folly and melancholy, and commanded the lion’s share of Italy’s box-office receipts in the 1960s and ’70s. Tognazzi’s career began opposite Raimondo Vianello in satirical sketch comedies of fledgling 1950s Italian television—his gifts of impersonation and improvisation are hilariously on display in films like Dino Risi’s I mostri (1963) and Luigi Zampa’s A Question of Honor (1965)—and deepened as his roles in later years became more acidic and introspective. If a typical Tognazzi character was virile and dissolute, sweet-talking his way into beds, executive offices, and corridors of power, he was also confronted with the sinking awareness of his own mortality. One witnesses in this retrospective, then, a man’s seemingly inexorable passage from brash ambition to bitter regret, a man seeking to preserve his dignity in the face of diminishing prowess.

In collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, MoMA celebrates Tognazzi with a retrospective that spans his four-decade career. The series features 25 of his nearly 150 films, including his unforgettable, award-winning performances in Luciano Salce’s The Fascist (1961), Carlo Lizzani’s La Vita agra (1964), Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Porcile (1969), Marco Ferreri’s La Grande Bouffe (1973), Elio Petri’s Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973), Mario Monicelli’s We Want the Colonels (1973), Édouard Molinaro’s La Cage aux folles(1978), and Bernardo Bertolucci’s Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man (1981), for which he won the Cannes prize for Best Actor.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce Cinecittà.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation and Steven Tisch, with major contributions from Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), Yuval Brisker Charitable Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.

Images

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La vita agra (It’s a Hard Life). 1964. Italy. Directed by Carlo Lizzani. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Surf Film.

L’ape regina (The Conjugal Bed). 1963. Italy, France. Directed by Marco Ferreri. Courtesy Park Circus.

La califfa (Lady Caliph). 1970. France, Italy. Directed by Alberto Bevilacqua. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Mediaset.

Il commissario Pepe (Police Chief Pepe). 1969. Italy. Directed by Ettore Scola. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ True Colours.

La proprietà non è più un furto (Property is No Longer a Theft). 1973. Italy. Directed by Elio Petri. Courtesy Cineteca di Bologna.

Il fischio al naso (The Seventh Floor). 1967. Italy. Directed by Ugo Tognazzi. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/Surf Film

I mostri (The Monsters) [Original Italian Release Version]. 1963. Italy, France. Directed by Dino Risi. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Surf Film.

Il federale (The Fascist). 1961. Italy. Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Courtesy Luce Cinecittà.

In Nome Del popolo Italiano (In the Name of the Italian People). 1971. Italy. Directed by Dino Risi. Photo by Pierluigi Praturlon. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce / Cineteca Nazionale.

La Cage Aux Folles. 1978. France, Italy. Directed by Édouard Molinaro. Courtesy Continental Distributing Inc./Photofest.

La donna scimmia (The Ape Woman). 1964. Italy, France. Directed by Marco Ferreri. Courtesy Cineteca di Bologna.

La Grande Bouffe (The Big Feast). 1973. France, Italy. Directed by Marco Ferreri. Courtesy Continental Distributing Inc./Photofest.

La tragedie d’un homme ridicule (Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man). 1981. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Courtesy Warner Brothers.

Il magnifico cornuto (The Magnificent Cuckold). 1964. Italy, France. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. Courtesy Continental Distributing Inc./Photofest.

Porcile (Pigsty). 1969. Italy. Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Movietime.

Ritratto di mio padre (Portrait of my Father). 2010. Italy. Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Maria Sole Tognazzi.

Romanzo popolare (Come Home and Meet My Wife). 1974. Italy. Directed by Mario Monicelli. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce.

Splendori e miserie di Madame Royale. 1970. Italy. Directed by Vittorio Caprioli. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce.

L’immorale (The Climax). 1967. Italy. Directed by Pietro Germi. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/Park Circus

L’Udienza. 1972. Italy, France. Directed by Marco Ferreri.  Courtesy Cineteca di Bologna.

Una questione d’onore (A Question of Honor). 1966. Italy, France. Directed by Luigi Zampa. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce.

Venga a prendere il caffe da noi (Come Have Coffee with Us). 1970. Italy. Directed by Alberto Lattuada. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Minerva.

Vogliamo i colonnelli (We Want the Colonels). 1973. Italy. Directed by Mario Monicelli. Courtesy Cinecittà Luce/ Dean Film.