It's a situational comedy of sorts, but with a lot of real stakes and genuine emotional investments. Plus... it's a heck of a lot of fun. Fellini crafts his tale with light-hearted detail to character and situation. His narrative is tightly wrapped and his camerawork and framing is quite masterful. This movie is a delight and a wonderful example of Fellini's early genius.
Pure comic genius in every frame. Trieste’s Chaplinesque turn as the hapless husband clearly pays homage to the Tramp while embedding the slapstick within a multilayered world of fantastic characters that could easily be found in Alice’s Wonderland. Fellini always brings our attention back to his wonderful faces, framing them beautifully within densely packed scenarios where absolutely anything can be imagined.
3-3.5. Obviously not Fellini at his peak. But there are some absolutely wonderful moments to be found in this early gem. The initial conceit is very 'La Strada', but the way Fellini turns it on its head to believe better and worse of his (soon-to-be) usual archetypes is what makes this movie really special. Also, props for that surprise cameo from Cabiria, stealing the show as always.
It is Pure and Innocent... And the genesis of Cabiria is introduced. She's up to her tricks. So, going back in time, I feel I have missed this gem in a dream of Fellini's honeymoon period. In discovering his pure language again and the origin of his unique style of comedic acting... I find that no other is like him. I even saw M. Antonioni's name in the credits... Wow! I would love to read that treatment of origin.
I'm smitten with the idea here of a goofily artificial fiction bleeding into Wanda's reality. 'White Sheik' also offers some splendid slapstick. But the lead male's a dimestore Chaplin, and the movie as a whole becomes a chore to get through. Maybe my final barb is unfair but the actual texture of the picture is shit, I've seen cleaner film from way earlier than '52. Good on Fellini for having fun, though!
3.5 If only Marcello had played the lead... Amazing to see Fellini's love of liminal zones--the beach, streetwalkers, theatre, the church--already so deftly handled. Fortunately, his later films do away with the tedious scenes before entering into this world, and also get rid of unfunny actors like the husband. The White Sheik on his swing is like the statue of Christ hung from the helicopter in LDV. Divine.
Fellini's first solo directorial project is as Woody Allen put it, "The perfect little comedy". I agree completely. This is a small, funny, clean little movie, and Fellini's tiny masterpiece. Every second of this movie belongs where it does. Sure, you can munch on some giant movies like La Dolce Vita, and 8 1/2, but this movie's a little Fellini snack, which shows just what he is capable of, and an underrated gem.
Fellini is an interesting case because his most "Felliniesque" movies aren't necessarily his best, so many newcomers arrive at his more famous later films and get turned off by the heavy style. You have to go back to lighter, early films like this to clearly see what his work was always really about: an exquisitely heartfelt affection for simple minds—for the juvenile, the lustful, and the naive.