Genoa native Pietro Germi briefly attended the Instituto Nautico before entering Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematographia . There he studied acting and directing, supporting himself with a number of bottom-level movie industry jobs. In 1946, he directed his first film, Il Testimone, which he also co-scripted. Almost immediately tagged as a "neorealist," Germi actually had more in common stylistically and thematically with American director John Ford (whom he deeply admired) than his Italian contemporaries. By the mid-1950s, Germi had pretty much abandoned drama in favor of satirical comedy, often utilizing the poverty-stricken regions of Sicily as his backdrop. Germi's Divorce Italian Style (1961) was a huge worldwide box-office hit which earned him an Oscar for "Best Screenplay" (in collaboration with Alfredo Giannetti and Ennio de Concini). In 1965, he was co-recipient of the Cannes festival "Best Picture" award for Signore e signori, released in the U.S. as The Birds, the Bees and the Italians. Pietro Germi's last completed film was Alfredo, Alfredo (1972); he was forced to pull out of his final project, Amici Miei (1975), suffering from the acute hepatitis that would ultimately kill him.