I’ll always think respectfully of Italian producer Carlo Ponti, who died yesterday at 94, for having produced Federico Fellini‘s La Strada, Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up, and The Passenger, Milos Forman‘s The Fireman’s Ball and Ettore Scola‘s A Special Day. But frankly…honestly? The image I’ve had of the guy all my life was that of a corrupt operator with an oily streak who got lucky by knowing the right filmmakers at the right time.
Critic Andrew Sarris once muttered something to me back in the late ’70s about Ponti making payoffs to exhibitors (I think) back in the day. Ponti was 37 when he first eyeballed 15 year-old Sophia Loren in a beauty contest, and you know he must have made a move of some kind right then and there. Ponti married Loren seven years later, when she was 22 and he was 45, in 1957. But God bless the man for engineering the making and release of those classic films. Plus Dr. Zhivago (love Alec Guiness‘s performance in that, and Tom Courtenay‘s) and Two Women .