A film critic, Lizzani became a scriptwriter and assistant director after World War II, and worked on such notable films of the late '40s as Roberto Rossellini's Germania Anno Zero (aka Germany Year Zero), Giuseppe De Santis' Riso Amaro (aka Bitter Rice), and Alberto Lattuada's Il Mulino Del Po (aka The Mill on the Po). After helming documentaries, he debuted as a feature director with the admired World War II drama Achtung! Banditi! Respected for his drama Cronache Di Poveri Amanti (aka Chronicle of Poor Lovers), he proved to be a solid director of genre films, notably crime films such as Banditi A Milano (aka The Violent Four) and Crazy Joe. He worked frequently for Italian television in the '80s, returning to films to helm features like Celluloid (1996), which won him a David di Donatello Award for Best Script, and Hotel Meina in 2007. Lizzani died in 2013 at age 91.