Totò and the Prince de Curtis: documentary, film, curiosities, death

Pto rediscover, in addition to the artist, the sensitive soul of a champion of comedy this evening it airs at 9.20pm on Rai 3 Totò and the Prince de Curtis. Documentary produced by Ocean Productions in collaboration with Rai Documentari directed by Tommaso Cennamo.

Totò and the Prince de Curtisthe plot of the doc

We all know Totò, but What was hidden behind the classic image of the great Neapolitan actor? The answer is in this documentary that tells the story of a Antonio de Curtis sensitive philosopher and author of poems and songs. In fact, there are hundreds of compositions where he managed, unlike films, to convey complex themes such as pain and disappointment.

As his daughter Liliana explainsin a precious and unpublished video: «All his free time from work on set, little of it and especially at night, was spent in that ideal place but also physical that he carved out for himself in each of his homes and which he liked to call “the think tank”. In fact, it was there that he retreated for hours alone to talk to himself, reflect, think». Right in one of his think tanks, Totò composed A’ levelhis most loved and well-known poem, perhaps the most successful of the vast poetic material that the documentary places at the center of the story.

Totò together with his lifelong friend Anna Magnani. (Getty Images)

The revelation of Totò’s most intimate soul occurs in an immersive way: with images from the Rai repertoire, from the family archive and from the Luce institute. Without forgetting the testimonies of cultural and entertainment figures who take the spectator into the most hidden sides of Totò’s inner world and into his favorite places, such as the think tank. Among the guests of the documentary: Mario Martone, Enrico Vanzina, Lino Banfi and Ninetto Davoli. With whom he starred in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece Birds and birds.

Totò, the prince of laughter

Born in 1898 in the Sanità district of Naples (he died in Rome in 1967), Totò is considered, also by virtue of some dramatic roles, one of the greatest performers in the history of Italian theater and cinema. Son of a clandestine relationship, little Antonio he grows up solitary, with a melancholic nature and in extremely difficult conditions. Since he was a child, he demonstrated a strong artistic vocation which prevented him from dedicating himself to studies, which he abandoned very soon.

After finishing primary school, he was enrolled in a boarding school, where due to a trivial accident with one of the tutors – who involuntarily hit him with a fist – his face underwent a particular conformation of the nose and chin. Episode that partly characterized his comic “mask”.

Totò in the fifties. (Getty Images)

After leaving college, Totò becomes passionate about street shows and Neapolitan dialect theatre. And soon, thanks to his innate comic talent, he tries his hand at hilarious imitations drawing on the repertoire of already established artists. Moved to Rome for many years achieves notable success in the theater, achieving fame in revue shows. While Icinematographic success arrived at the end of the 1940s thanks to films like with The two orphans, Totò in colour, Are we men or corporals? And Totò, Peppino… and the bad woman.

Able to combine hilarious acting with sometimes surreal comedy, Totò represented a very happy meeting between the great tradition of commedia dell’arte, the spontaneity of vaudeville and the melancholy soul of the city of Naples. Paired with legendary comedians like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplinbut also to the Marx brothers, the prince of laughter was gifted with an irresistible facial expression and knew how to make fun of people and situations by adopting funny and dazed attitudes. Often panned by most critics of the time, he was widely reevaluated after his death. So much so that he is still today among the most popular and loved Italian comedians of all time.