Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit., nr. 42120. Photo: E.N.I.C.
Massimo Girotti, who had a lengthy career, is most remembered for three roles: the young wanderer Gino in Visconti's Ossessione, the stern lover in Antonioni's Cronaca di un amore and the passionate patriot in Visconti's Senso.
Massimo Girotti, born in Mogliano (1918) was a student of law, who thanks to his physique - he was a champion swimmer - was noted by director Mario Soldati, who offered him a small part in Dora Nelson (1939). He also had a small part in Tosca (1941), by Jean Renoir and Carl Koch, for which Luchino Visconti was assistant-director. Girotti had already had a bigger part in Alessandro Blasetti's phantasy adventure film La corona di ferro (1941) but his first male lead he had in the war drama Un pilota ritorna (1941) by Roberto Rossellini. Girotti plays a pilot shot down over Greece and captured by the British. After a love affair with the daughter of an Italian doctor, he manages to escape and return. Next followed Ossessione in which the camera's eye on Girotti's Gino shows Visconti's predilection for this actor. In his published memoirs Girotti confesses he felt embarassed about Visconti's homosexual fixation on him, not very clear to viewers then but quite clear to us now.
During the German occupation, Girotti played in La porta del cielo (Vittorio De Sica 1944), a film funded with catholic money and also set in a catholic environment. The film was released after the liberation, in autumn 1944. After the war, Girotti played in various classical neorealist films such as Caccia tragica (De Santis 1947) and In nome della legge (Germi 1949) but also in the modernist drama Cronaca di un amore (1950), Michelangelo Antonioni's debut about two lovers who - again - plot to kill her husband, but this time the story is set among the Milanese rich. From the early 1950s on, Girotti also played in various epic movies, such as Fabiola (Blasetti 1949), Spartaco (Freda 1952) and Romolo e Remo (Corbucci 1961). In 1954 he acted with Visconti again as the noble and passionate patriot Ussoni who is defeated by the Austrians in Visconti's Risorgimento melodrama Senso.
In his later career, memorable roles where the Milanese industrial who strips in a train station and goes into the desert in Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (1968), Creon in Pasolini's Medea (1970), and parts in Le streghe ( Visconti 1976), Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci 1972), Monsieur Klein (Losey 1976), L'Innocente (Visconti 1976), and Il mostro (Roberto Benigni 1994). Girotti's last role was that of a mysterious old wanderer - an old Gino? - in Ferzan Ozpetek's La finestra di fronte (2003). He proves to be a Jewish homosexual baker who is tormented his whole life by sacrifying his lover to save the Jews from the Roman ghetto. Girotti died of a heart attack during the finishing of the film.
Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.