Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Italy, 1954. Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica. Story and Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, dialogue by Tullio Pinelli, screenplay collaborator Ennio Flaiano. Cinematography by Otello Martelli. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Mario Ravasco. Costume Design by Margherita Marinari. Film Editing by Leo Catozzo. Academy Awards 1956. New York Film Critics Awards 1956.
Giulietta Masina plays a simpleminded villager whose mother gives her away to a circus performer (Anthony Quinn) in order to no longer have her mouth to feed. Masina travels with her new boss, assisting him with his many strongman performances and taking all of his emotional and physical abuse while growing fearfully attached to him. The interference of a tightrope walker (Richard Basehart) gives her a newfound confidence that makes her feel that she can finally distance herself from Quinn. Only Fellini was ever this good at mixing gritty drama with a healthy sense of imaginative fancy, and this film and Nights of Cabiria are the best examples. The film was the first to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film after it became a competitive category, and it established Fellini’s name eternally in world cinema.