During the 1930s, Mario Camerini was one of Italy's premiere directors. He began in 1920 as an assistant to director August Genina, his cousin. Prior to that, Camerini had studied law and served as a light infantry officer during WW I. He began directing in 1923, and by the 1930s his reputation as a great director was only rivaled by Blasetti. It was Camerini who launched the long, successful acting career of Vittorio de Sica and cast him in many sentimental comedies during the 1930s. Camerini is also credited as having great effect on such aspiring directors as Cesare Zavattini and Renato Castellani, who served as his assistants. Following WW II, Camerini eschewed the popular neorealist movement in favor of more lightweight entertaining films aimed at a broader, more commercial audience. In addition to directing, he collaborated on most of the screenplays for his films and on those of other directors, most notably on King Vidor's War and Peace (1956).