Worked for Lux Films in Rome from 1945 to 1949, where he oversaw several features by directors including Mario Camerini and Alberto Lattuada. In 1950 Ponti began a successful partnership with Dino De Laurentiis, producing a number of noted films such as Federico Fellini's "La Strada" (1954). He then branched out on his own in the mid-1950s, scoring critical and popular success with international productions by directors such as Vittorio De Sica, Jean-Luc Godard and David Lean.
Ponti's 1957 marriage to Sophia Loren sparked off a string of Italian legal complications (a previous divorce was still being contested) which resulted in his taking French citizenship in 1964. In 1979, he was sentenced, in absentia, to a jail term and a multi-million dollar fine, for charges involving the smuggling of currency and art.