Ponti worked with many of the pre-eminent postwar film directors, including Roberto Rossellini, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, King Vidor, Jean-Luc Godard and Roman Polanski. Though no stranger to big budgets and big stars, he insisted that his goal always was to produce meritorious movies that also made money.
Carlo Ponti was born in the Milan suburb of Magenta to Leone Ponti, a music printing shop owner, and the former Maria Zardone. He first wanted to be an architect but later studied law at the University of Milan. He joined his father's law firm in Milan and became involved in the film business through negotiating contracts.
A friend asked him to join him in a film company and Ponti soon rose to producer. He produced Mario Soldati's Piccolo Mondo Antico there, starring Alida Valli, in her first notable role. The film dealt with the Italian struggle against the Austrians for the inclusion of northeastern Italy into the Kingdom of Italy during the Risorgimento. The film was successful, because it was easy to see "the Austrians as Germans" during World War II and as a result, he was briefly jailed for undermining relations with Nazi Germany.
Ponti accepted an offer from the Lux Film company in Rome in 1941 where he produced a series of commercially successful films featuring the comedian Totò. In 1954 he had his greatest artistic success with the production of Federico Fellini's La strada. However, Fellini denied Ponti's role in its success and said that "La Strada was made in spite of Ponti and De Laurentiis".
In 1957 he and De Laurentiis each began producing films independently. At times Mr. Ponti owned a score of companies across Europe to juggle his complex financial and artistic machinations.
He produced Visconti's Boccaccio '70 in 1962, Marriage Italian Style in 1964, and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow in 1965. He produced his most popular and financially successful film, David Lean's Doctor Zhivago in 1965. He subsequently produced three notable films with Michelangelo Antonioni, Blowup in 1966, Zabriskie Point in 1970 and The Passenger in 1974.
In 1946 he married Giuliana Fiastri.
In 1950 while serving as a judge in a beauty contest, Ponti met a minor actress Sofia Lazzaro whom he subsequently cast in films such as Anna (1951). In 1952 his friend, Goffredo Lombardo, head of production at Titanus, changed Lazzaro's name to Sophia Loren.
In 1957, Ponti obtained a Mexican divorce from his first wife and married Loren by proxy. However, divorce was forbidden in Italy at the time and he was told that he would be charged with bigamy if he returned to Italy and Loren would be charged with "concubinage".
In 1960 Ponti and Loren returned to Italy and when summoned to court, denied being married. Later, they had the marriage annulled in 1962, after which he arranged with his first wife, Giuliana, that the three of them move to France (which at that time allowed divorce) and become French citizens. In 1965 Giuliana Ponti divorced her husband, allowing Ponti to marry Loren in 1966 in a civil wedding in Sèvres. They later became French citizens after their application was approved by then French President Georges Pompidou.
Two unsuccessful attempts were made to kidnap Ponti in 1975, including one involving an attack on his car with gunfire.
Ponti was tried in absentia in 1979 for smuggling money and works of art abroad and fined 22 billion lire and sentenced to four years in prison. He did not attend the hearing, as his French nationality made him immune from extradition. He was finally cleared of the charges in 1990.
|Whos here now: Members 0 Guests 1 Bots & Crawlers 0|