Screening Log: I Vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953)

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07/03/2008 11:00 AM |

I watched Fellini’s third film, I Vitelloni, the other night because I’m writing something, elsewhere, on another All the Young Dudes hangout movie (you know: Diner, Hou’s The Boys from Fengkuei, more recently and self-consciously Reprise) but have never see what’s kinda the template.

It’s great, surprise surprise, with its boys-will-be-boys tone both nostalgic about their rambunctiousness and fizzes of energy (the voice-over tends towards the first-person plural, and as Hobes observed, is in the wistful past tense even though the movie takes place during the year it was made and released) and critical about their mistreatment of women and dead-end layabout lifestyle. As always, the movie theater and seaside are popular locations (in fact, Reprise seems to have lifted the “guys gather at the pier during the off-season and face out at the gray ocean together, not saying much” scene from this movie).

My favorite of the guys, I think, is Alberto, played by Alberto Sordi, who absolutely nails the insecure compulsive charm of the second fiddle; he’s always on, and totally charismatic, but unlike someone who’s naturally charismatic he always seems to need to be, and prove it. This scene, my favorite in the movie, is at about the halfway point; it’s the morning after the town’s annual carnival. I should say that the guy in the sequins is Sordi and the one talking to him is his serious, quiet friend (and the girl with the latter is pretty much superfluous, never seen again). No subtitles, but you can really tell everything you need to know from the way Fellini, with his blocking, framing and editing, arranges the three players together and apart in the frame. And the despairing hangover vibe needs no translation.