Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I VITELLONI (1953). Director/writer: Federico Fellini.

This is a charming and engaging slice of life about five friends and their life in a small post-war Italian town. Fausto (Franco Fabrizi) is a rake who has knocked up a young lady, Sandra ([E]Leonora Ruffo), and who wants to flee, but his father forces him to marry her – although he can't keep his hands off other women. Alberto (Alberto Sordi) lives with – and is supported by – his mother and sister but it looks like he'll have to get a job when his sister, who's involved with a married man, leaves home. Leopoldo (Leopoldo Trieste) is a would-be playwright who shows his work to an aging actor who's more interested in cadging a meal – and perhaps sexual favors – from the fellow than he is in mounting his work. Riccardo (Riccardo Fellini) is a tenor, and sensitive Moraldo (Franco Interlenghi) is the brother of Sandra who longs for something that small- town life cannot give him. The movie may not necessarily be “deep,” but there's a lot going on beneath the surface, and it casts a spell if for no other reason than its sheer quality: it is beautifully directed, photographed, acted, and features a lovely score by Nino Rota. Moraldo is a bit of a shadowy figure – today his friendship with the twelve-year-old Guido (Guido Martufi) would raise eyebrows, although in Guido he actually sees himself – but perhaps the saddest character is Leopoldo. He is representative of all the wannabes in small towns who long for art and culture but haven't the talent or wherewithal to make their dreams a reality. All of these young men long for something else, but Moraldo [Fellini himself?] – whose dreams are never expressed – is the only one who actually leaves. There are many striking characters and images in the film, such as the village "idiot" poignantly touching the statue of the angel on the beach, and the middle-aged wife of Fausto's boss, whose sensuality is momentarily awakened by Fausto's touch even as she recoils from it. The actors playing these young men may all seem a few years too old but I think the point is that they are all past the age where they should have long since left home and found themselves.

Verdict: A lovely movie. ****. 

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