Movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, maker of the schlock and the serious, dies at 91

Movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, who boasted a body of work that emcompassed the schlocky and the serious, has died at 91. Here’s an excerpt of of the obituary on The New York Times’s Web site by Dave Kehr:

Mr. De Laurentiis’s career dated to prewar Italy, and he worked in a wide range of styles and genres. His long filmography has several important titles of the early Italian New Wave, including the international success “Bitter Rice” (1949), whose star, Silvana Mangano, became Mr. De Laurentiis’s first wife; two important films by Federico Fellini (“La Strada,” 1954, and “Nights of Cabiria,” 1957); and the film that many critics regard as David Lynch’s best work (“Blue Velvet,” 1986). But Mr. De Laurentiis never turned his nose up at unabashed popular entertainments like Sergio Corbucci’s “Goliath and the Vampires” (1961), Roger Vadim’s “Barbarella” (1968) and Richard Fleischer’s “Mandingo” (1975) — several of which hold up better today than some of Mr. De Laurentiis’s more respectable productions.

We note his passing here because given such a prolific career, he of course would have spy movies at some point. One of them, 1966’s Kiss The Girls and Make Them Die, is of interest to Bond fans. Not only was it one of the many movies produced to cash in on 1960s spy popularity, it seems to have a lot elements in common with the 1979 007 film Moonraker. There’s even been speculation it was “inspiration” for Moonraker. At the very least, the film seemed to make better use of its Brazilian locations than the later Bond movie. Here’s the start of the film, which starred Mike Connors a year before he began Mannix:

Nine years later, De Laurentiis “presented” (but didn’t have an actual producer credit) Three Days of the Condor, a much more serious, darker film starring Robert Redford that reflected the jaded post-Watergate 1970s.

The inspiration for Moonraker?

It has been speculated that 1966’s “Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die,” produced by veteran schlockmeister Dino De Laurentiis and directed by Henry Levin (who also helmed two Matt Helm movies), may have been the “inspiration” for 1979’s “Moonraker.” At the very least there are some similarities Among them:

–A rich industrialist decides the world is getting overpopulated.
–The rich industrialist’s plan involves space launches. (In the case of the 1966 movie, he’s going to launch a satellite into orbit that will make men sterile; meanwhile, he’s putting beautiful women in “suspended animation” so HE can repopulate the world at the proper time).
–A British agent and an American agent are initially in competition but later join forces. In the earlier movie, the man is an American (Mike Connors) and the woman British (Dorothy Provine).
–Both films are shot in Brazil and make use of some of the locations.

Anyway, here’s the trailer:

And here are the main titles: