The decade between 1945 and 1955 is described as the golden age of Italian cinema. Emerging from the stark and often desolate picture of post-World War II Italy depicted in the neorealist films, the commedia all'italiana or Italian-style comedy was born. The film producer and distributor who helped to popularise this genre worldwide was Mario Cecchi Gori.
Born in Brescia on March 21, 1920, Cecchi Gori set up his film production company in 1949. During his long, prolific and commercially successful career, he produced more than 200 films, ranging from B-grade movies to cult films such as Dino Risi's The Easy Life, starring Vittorio Gassman and Jean-Louis Tritignant; critically-acclaimed pictures like Federico Fellini's The Voice of the Moon, starring Paolo Villaggio and Roberto Benigni; and box-office hits like Johnny Toothpick, starring Roberto Benigni.
In 1991, he was given the David di Donatello, the most important Italian film award, for his career. His prestige grew when, in 1992, Mediterraneo, a film about Italian soldiers stranded on the Greek island of Egeo during World War II, directed by Gabriele Salvatores, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In 1994, he received the Best Film Award at the European Film Awards for L'america, directed by Gianni Amelio. Two years later, Cecchi Gori, along with his only son Vittorio (who was born in Florence in 1942), Gaetano Daniele and director Michael Radford, was posthumously nominated for The Postman. It was the first Italian film to be an Academy Award nominee for Best Film.