Italian screenwriter/director Luigi Zampa began as a student of architecture and engineering, but opted instead for a theatrical career as a playwright. At 31, Zampa became one of the first students to enroll at the pioneering Italian film school Centro Sperimante di Cinematografia. From 1938 to 1941, he served his apprenticeship as an assistant director and script collaborator. He directed his first feature in 1941, then spent the next few years specializing in the frivolous "white telephone" romantic comedies so beloved of filmgoers of the period. From 1944 to 1945, he was assigned to the film unit of the Italian army. Apparently profoundly affected by this experience, he forsook escapism after the war and became one of the vanguards of the neorealist movement. Zampa was instrumental in building Anna Magnani into stardom, and later performed the same magic for Gina Lollobrigida. A trenchant satirist, Zampa thrived on sticking it to government bureaucracy and bourgeois pretentiousness: Many of his most successful films featured Alberto Sordi as a mildly corrupt government official or blue-collar laborer. For reasons unknown, Luigi Zampa seemed to lose his touch in the late '50s; his final film efforts were still entertaining, but far more conformist and conventional than such vintage Zampa efforts as To Live in Peace (1946) and City on Trial (1952).