Tullio Pinelli: Fellini's long-standing screenwriter

Tullio Pinelli was one of Italy's best-known screenwriters and he worked with many of the great directors. He will be best remembered, however, for writing all of Federico Fellini's films up to the mid-1960s and garnering four Oscar nominations in the process.

Pinelli, who was born in Turin in 1908, came from a noble family; after Italian unification in the mid-19th century, a great-uncle quashed a Calabrian revolt. In 1952, Pinelli recreated this incident in Il Brigante di Tacca del Lupo ["The Bandits of Tacca del Lupo"].

Pinelli initially worked as a lawyer and wrote in his spare time, but the success of his play The Etruscan Fathers led to a contract with Lux Film. Then, in 1946, he had a career-changing encounter at a news kiosk in Rome, when he found someone reading a different page of the same newspaper. It was Fellini. The meeting was "a creative lightning bolt" and the two men immediately discussed writing a fantasy film, totally at odds with the then prevalent neo-realism.

That idea came to nothing but Fellini was involved with Roberto Rossellini's L'Amore ["Love"] (1948), which began with an adaptation of Jean Cocteau's La voix humaine ["The Human Voice"]. Rossellini asked Fellini and Pinelli to add a second, cheap-to-film story. They came up with Il Miracolo ["The Miracle"] in which a homeless woman mistakes a passer-by for St Joseph (reluctantly played by Fellini, in return for a sports car). For the woman, pregnancy confirms the miracle; the locals, however, leave her to give birth alone in a cowshed.

In 1949, Fellini and Pinelli adapted Bacchelli's novel Il Mulino del Po ["The Mill on the Po"] for Alberto Lattuada. Fellini read volume one, Pinelli read volume two and they ignored volume three. Pinelli also adapted Chekhov's The Steppe for one of Lattuada's forays into Russian literature (La Steppa, 1963). Pinelli worked with Lattuada for the last time in 1985, on the star-studded mini-series Christopher Columbus.

In 1950 Fellini embarked on his own debut, Luci del Varieta ["Lights of Variety"], about sexual jealousy among a troupe of vaudevillians. It was co-directed with Lattuada and co-scripted with Pinelli who, over the next 13 years, wrote 11 Fellini films, including I Vitelloni (1953); La Strada (1954); La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8 (1963). Relations soured after Juliet of the Spirits (1965) but they got back together for the bittersweet Ginger and Fred in 1986 and again four years later for the director's swansong, The Voice of the Moon. Though Pinelli never won an Oscar, he was one of several uncredited writers on Vittoria De Sica's Oscar-winner The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970).

Pinelli and Fellini complemented each other, the former bringing a solid dramatic background to the deal, the other a propensity for fantasy. Together they expressed the director's obsessions, his problematic relationship with women and his fascination with performance coming together in a semi-surrealistic dream world.

Their films covered subjects like the early days of a marriage (The White Sheik, 1952); adolescent posturing (I Vitelloni); a group of swindlers who disguise themselves (Il bidone, 1955); and marital strife (Juliet of the Spirits). Nights of Cabiria (1957), their story of an indomitable prostitute's doomed search for true love, was adapted by Neil Simon as Sweet Charity and filmed by Bob Fosse in 1969.

In the early 1950s Pinelli was at the top of his game. As well as Fellini's projects, he scripted Voice of Silence (1953), a morally probing late film by G.W. Pabst, the director of Pandora's Box. That year Pinelli joined the writing team for the portmanteau film L'Amore in città ["Love in the City"] though the end result did not match the talent involved, which included Michelangelo Antonioni, Fellini, Lattuada and Cesare Zavattini. Another such project was Boccaccio '70 (1962), for which Pinelli wrote Fellini's "The Temptation of Dr Antonio".

Pinelli also worked with Pietro Germi, their eight films divided between tense dramas and light comedies. La Città si difende ("Four Ways Out", 1951) interweaves the separate escape routes of a group of bank robbers, while the divorce-comedy Alfredo, Alfredo (1972) is a lesser-known entry in Dustin Hoffman's filmography.

Mario Monicelli, another director with whom Pinelli worked, was best known for his comedies, including the incredibly popular Amici miei ("My Friends", 1975). Pinelli also worked on two sequels to that film (directed by Nanni Loy), in 1982 and 1985. After his retirement from screenwriting in the mid-1990s, Pinelli wrote a novel, The House of Robespierre. Viaggio a Tulum ["Journey to Tulum"], a Pinelli-scripted autobiographical project by Fellini which floundered while the director was alive, is currently in production.

Tullio Pinelli, screenwriter, novelist, playwright: born Turin 24 June 1908; married Maria Cristina Quilico, (deceased 1987; four children), 1988 Madeleine Lebeau; died Rome 7 March 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn