Friday, March 18, 2011

Federico Fellini: Nights of Caberia, I Vitelloni, La Strada

This week Netflix Watch Instantly added Federico Fellini's Nights of Cabiria to their streaming films.  As many of you know (from my favorites tab) Fellini's 8 1/2 is one of my favorite films of all time (and it is also streaming), and I had been preparing an entry on all of the Fellini films currently streaming.  But for now I thought it would be interesting to send out a Quick Picks on his films from the 1950s, which have more in common with the legacy of Italian neo-realism than with the more flamboyant, surreal Fellini from the 1960s and beyond.  While it would be exaggerating to say that these films are neglected (two of them won consecutive Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, after all), I think many people have a skewed view of Fellini's ouvre based upon the excesses of his later films.  And this list features two great performances by Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina, who also won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for Nights of Cabiria.

I Vitelloni (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1953, 107 minutes)
Netflix: Federico Fellini directs this tale of a group of young men who are in no hurry to leave their small town. Funded by their families, Fausto (Franco Fabrizi), Leopoldo (Leopoldo Trieste), Alberto (Alberto Sordi), Riccardo (Riccardo Fellini) and Moraldo (Franco Interlenghi) enjoy days of frivolous fun, but not without apprehension. Are they missing out on all that life has to offer? Eventually, one of the men breaks out of his self-imposed routine. Netflix link.

La Strada (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1954, 108 minutes)
Neflix: Filmmaker Martin Scorsese introduces this restored special edition of Italian auteur Federico Fellini's powerful rumination on love and hate, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1956. The story follows the plight of gentle Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina), who's sold by her mother to a bullying circus performer (Anthony Quinn), only to have a clown (Richard Basehart) win her heart and ignite a doomed love triangle. Netflix link.

Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1957, 117 minutes)
Netflix: Despite an endless string of heartbreaks and misfortune, Cabiria (Giulietta Masina), a wide-eyed prostitute working the streets of Rome, never seems to give up on finding true love. One of director Federico Fellini's best-known efforts, this supremely human tale -- by turns absurdly comic and jarringly tragic -- won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and the visually arresting Masina earned Best Actress honors at the Cannes Film Festival. Netflix link.

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