Monday, November 19, 2007

Variety Lights (Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada, 1950)

****
Italy

Federico Fellini's first directing gig was in collaboration with then-established but since-forgotten neo-Realist Alberto Lattuada. It's a cosy, tender portrait of a bunch of unflappable, perennially squabbling variety show performers, with the plucky, womanising, egocentric Peppino De Filippo at their head.
Both directors cast their wives in principal roles: Carla del Poggio (a Rita-Hayworth look-alike) as an ambitious small-town beauty-queen who worms her way into the troupe, then sleeps her way beyond it; and the great Giulietta Masina as the fading star and committed partner to De Filippo's deluded showman.

Certainly Lattuada's contributions must not be underestimated, but a lot of Fellini sticks out in the the detail, the warmth, the atmosphere and the humanism.

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