Manly, chiseled, exceedingly handsome, very agile Massimo Girotti was an engineering student and polo/swimming star before entering films in 1939. He began auspiciously in serious leads, most notably Roberto Rossellini's Desire (1946), Luchino Visconti's Obsession (1943) and Vittorio De Sica's La porta del cielo (1945), while his physical stature and all-round athletism were put to good use in actioneers such as Spartaco (1953) in which he played the pre-Kirk Douglas slave-turned-leader role of Spartacus. By the 60s, however, Girotti was reduced to support roles in swashbuckling adventure and badly-dubbed sand-and-spear spectacles, appearing only occasionally in well-mounted films of quality, such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema (1968), Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Visconti's L'Innocente (1976). He died only a few weeks before the release of his last film, Ferzan Özpetek's Facing Windows (2003).
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