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Italo B.O. list beautiful for top-ranked Benigni.

ROME In a hit list spanning half a century, with grosses adjusted to a uniform currency rate, Roberto Benigni confirmed his position as Italy's all-time box office champion, securing the No. 1 spot with his Oscar winner "Life Is Beautiful" and placing five films in the top 100.

Compiled by national producers association Anica, the chart surveys the top-grossing homegrown productions since 1955, with earnings recalculated according to the value of the Italian lira in 1995. It provides a rare opportunity to assess how films from the golden age of the Italian industry -- when national product dominated imports -- fare against today's hits, which surface in a more commercially challenged climate.

A Christmas 1997 release that was successfully reissued early this year following its multiple Oscar nominations, "Life Is Beautiful" reaped total domestic grosses of 92 billion lire ($51 million). Converted to the 1995 rate, that comes to 87.5 billion lire ($48.5 million).

Benigni also figures in the top 100 with his 1994 vehicle "The Monster" in eighth position; with the 1991 hit "Johnny Stecchino" at No. 15; with 1988's "The Little Devil" at 34; and at 93, with "Nothing Left to Do But Cry," which he co-directed and starred in.

Bertolucci's `Tango'

Most surprising is the appearance in second place of Bernardo Bertolucci's erotic drama "Last Tango in Paris," which nudged contemporary B.O. powerhouse Leonardo Pieraccioni into third and fourth position, respectively, with his megahit comedies "The Cyclone" (1996) and "Fireworks" (1997).

Released amid controversy in 1972, "Last Tango" grossed the then-outstanding sum of 7 billion lire ($3.9 million). It was reissued in 1987, earning a further 5 billion lire ($2.7 million). Re-evaluated at the uniform rate, the pic's total clocks in at 82.5 billion lire ($45.7 million). Bertolucci also scored the 17th spot with his epic 1976 drama, "1900."

The godfather of the spaghetti Western, Sergio Leone, also posted a strong showing with 1964's "A Fistful of Dollars" and its 1965 sequel, "For a Few Dollars More," both of which made it into the top 20, and with "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966), and "Duck, You Sucker" (1971) further down the list.

Heavyweight directors from previous decades also appear in the top 100. Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1971 romp, "The Decameron," holds the No. 13 spot; Federico Fellini weighs in at No. 28 and 55, respectively, with "La Dolce Vita" and "Amarcord"; and Luchino Visconti takes the 43rd, 79th and 92nd positions, respectively, with "The Leopard," "Rocco and His Brothers" and "The Damned."

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Title Annotation:Roberto Benigni
Author:ROONEY, DAVID
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jan 10, 2000
Words:423
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