Born in Rome, Gatti started as film operator in early 1940s, then debuted as cinematographer in 1953. In 1943 he was sentenced to five years in prison, then turned into exile, for having defaced a portrait of Benito Mussolini hung on the walls of Cinecittà.
He is probably best known for his collaboration with director Gillo Pontecorvo, especially for the experimental cinematography of The Battle of Algiers, that was inspired by the cinéma vérité theory. He won five Silver Ribbon for Best Cinematography. He also worked, among others, with Roman Polanski, Nanni Loy, Damiano Damiani, Eriprando Visconti, Luigi Zampa, George P. Cosmatos and Sergio Corbucci. Gatti has long been the president of the Italian Association of cinematographers (Aic).
- "È morto Marcello Gatti: fotografò Brando e la Battaglia d'Algeri". RaiNews 24. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
- Stefano Masi, Dizionario mondiale dei direttori della fotografia - Vol. A-K, Recco, Le Mani, 2007. ISBN 88-8012-387-4, pp. 327-330.
- Enrico Lancia. I premi del cinema. Gremese Editore, 1998. ISBN 8877422211.