Italian director Dino Risi dies at 91

Worked with Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni

ROME -- Italy on Monday mourned the passing of the so-called "father of Italian comedy," the iconic Dino Risi, who died late Saturday in Rome. He was 91.

His career spanned seven decades and included work with the most important stars in Italian cinema history, including Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio Gassmann and Alberto Sordi.

Of his 54 films, Risi is probably best known for 1974's "Profuma di donna" (Scent of a Woman), which earned him an Oscar nomination and a Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes for Gassmann, the film's star. It was remade in 1992 with Al Pacino.

Born in Milan on Dec. 23, 1916, Risi gave up a career in psychology for his then-hobby, film directing. He moved to Rome in 1955 and gained immediate attention for "Pane, amore, e ..." (Scandal in Sorrento), starring Loren. In 1962, he made "Il sorpasso" (The Easy Life), starring Gassmann. That film, like "Profuma di donna," has since been selected as one of Italy's 100 most important films. He directed his last film in 2002.

The Italian media paid homage Monday, with La Repubblica calling him an Italian Billy Wilder, and Il Messaggero saying Risi changed the course of Italian cinema.