Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Original title: Le Notti di Cabiria
Italy/France, 1957. Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica, Les Films Marceau. Story by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the novel by Maria Molinari. Cinematography by Aldo Tonti. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Piero Gherardi. Costume Design by Piero Gherardi. Film Editing by Leo Catozzo. Podcast: My Criterions. Academy Awards 1957. Cannes Film Festival 1957.
The best film from Fellini’s pre-Dolce Vita career is this scintillating comedy-drama that was the basis for the less impressive musical Sweet Charity. Cabiria (Giulietta Masina, in the best role of her career) is a prostitute with a hopeful heart who keeps putting her faith in human nature, and subsequently keeps getting disappointed. After one boyfriend leaves her in the dust and takes her purse, she goes home to resume life before falling in love again with someone new. The nights she experiences and the heartbreaks she keeps encountering are beautifully recorded by Fellini’s sensitive camera and his excellent screenplay, coming to a terrific climax at a remarkable sequence on a religious pilgrimage. There is no better an example of gritty realism being perfectly blended with starry-eyed fantasy.