Veteran director Mario Monicelli jumps to death from hospital window

Mario Monicelli, 95, who directed some of postwar Italy's most famous films and launched the careers of several of the country's top actors, has jumped to his death from a Rome hospital window.

Monicelli directed such classics as I Soliti Ignoti, (Big Deal on Madonna Street), For Love and Gold and the My Friends series with Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret.

Media reports said he jumped from the fourth floor of San Giovanni hospital, where he was being treated for terminal prostate cancer. Monicelli, known as a genius of Italian comedy, also directed serious films such The Great War, a story set in the First World War, and A Very Little Man, which tells the tale of an average man who takes justice into his own hands after his son is killed.

He was nominated for an Oscar four times but the award always eluded him. He made about 70 films and wrote nearly all the screenplays himself. He made his first short film when he was 19 and made his directorial debut in 1949 by directing the Italian comic star Toto, a partnership that would help make them both famous.

He worked with some of postwar Italy's greatest actors, including Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Vittorio Gassman, Alberto Sordi, Anna Magnani, Claudia Cardinale and Monica Vitti.