Italian filmmaker Vittorio Cottafavi is best known for his dramatic historical epics, and though highly respected by a few French critics from the Cahiers du Cinema, he was generally regarded as merely competent by most reviewers. Born in Modena, Italy, Cottafavi first studied law, philosophy, and literature before enrolling in Rome's prestigious Centro Sperimentale du Cinematografia. He graduated in the late '30s and began working as a screenwriter. Cottafavi was an assistant director to both Alessandro Blasetti and Vittorio de Sica. In 1943, Cottafavi made his directorial debut in I Nostri Sogni. He abandoned feature filmmaking in the late '60s to begin helming television adaptations of classic literature.