King of Laughter

Foreign Film Series ~ The King of Laughter

Wednesday, April 5, 2023 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
  • Library Hall
An award-winning Italian biopic about the eccentric comic theater legend Eduardo Scarpetta whose staging of a parody led to the first ever copyright lawsuit in Italy

At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the Naples of the Belle Époque, theaters and cinemas are on the rise. The great comedian Eduardo Scarpetta is the box-office king. Success made him a very rich man: from his humble origins, he established himself on the scene with his comedies and the mask and character of Felice Sciosciammocca, who managed to replace Pulcinella in the hearts of the Neapolitan audiences. The theater is his life, and his complex family core gravitates around the theater, with wives, companions, lovers, legitimate and illegitimate children including Titina, Eduardo and Peppino De Filippo. At the height of his success, Scarpetta allows himself what will prove to be a dangerous gamble. He decides to parody the play “The Daughter of Iorio,” a tragedy by the greatest Italian poet of the time, Gabriele D’Annunzio. On opening night, all hell breaks loose: the play is interrupted by screams, whistles and insults from the poets and playwrights of the new generation who cry out scandal, and Scarpetta ends up being sued for plagiarism by D’Annunzio himself.

And so the first historic copyright lawsuit in Italy begins. The years of the trial will be exhausting for him and his whole family, so much so that the delicate balance that held it together seems on the verge of dissolving. Everything in Scarpetta’s life seems to be going in pieces, but with a great actor’s performance he’ll manage to challenge a fate that wanted him a loser, and he’ll win his last game.

Screens in Italian with English subtitles.


Run Time: 

133 min.
"The King of Laughter is a feast of a film.... It’s a dazzling and technically brilliant feat, the work of an ambitious, experienced and passionate director. "
Hollywood Reporter