Tonino Delli Colli, the award-winning Italian cinematographer whose distinctive camerawork stretched from the birth of Italian neorealism in the 1940s to Life Is Beautiful in 1997, died on Aug. 17 in Rome, where he was born. He was 82. The largely self-taught Delli Colli was famous for getting on film the visions of Italian directing icons Pier Paolo Pasolini, Sergio Leone and Federico Fellini. There were many other well-known directors he worked with including Roberto Rosellini, Lina Wertmuller and Louis Malle. Last February, Delli Colli received the International Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers at its annual awards gathering.
“He has compiled a remarkable body of work that has stood the test of time,” said Owen Roizman, ASC, the chairman of the organization’s awards committee. Delli Colli was 16 and still in high school when he got work at Cinecitta Studios in 1938, only a year after Rome’s famous film factory had opened. A turning point in his career was hooking up with director Pasolini. It was an extended collaboration. Delli Colli worked on 11 of Pasolini’s 13 movies, including The Gospel According to St. Matthew, which gained the cinematographer his Silver Ribbon award, the first of seven. In the 1960s he worked with director Leone on the series of so-called Spaghetti Westerns, a re-stylization of the traditional American cowboy movie that drew huge audiences around the world and remade the genre. They included The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America. Delli Colli also worked with Fellini on four movies in the late part of the director’s career including The Voice of the Moon and Ginger and Fred. In 1952, working for producers Dino de Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti, Delli Colli shot Toto a colori, Italy’s first color film. He won four David di Donatello Awards, or Italy’s Oscar. He is survived by a son.