Il bidone

Director: Federico Fellini

Italy-France| 1955. English subtitles. Black and white. 91 mins.

Fellini’s ?rst ?op, Il bidone also happens to be one of his greatest and most undervalued ?lms. Together with La strada and Nights of Cabiria, it forms part of the director’s trilogy of ?lms dealing with the subject of loneliness. The American actor Broderick Crawford (dubbed into Italian) plays Augusto, the ageing head of a trio of petty thieves who dress up as priests to con peasants out of their treasures. Augusto has grown weary of his profession, but he’s never known any other life. His crisis of conscience is exacerbated by meeting his neglected daughter who needs his help. Augusto is clearly devoted to her, but can only make empty promises of support. Indeed, it is Augusto’s love for his daughter that paradoxically condemns and redeems him. Fellini’s eye for the grotesque and strange within the mundane, the exuberant music, energetic camerawork and vivid yet subtle performances are here shot through with an uncharacteristically gritty, cynical bleakness. A magni?cently infernal party sequence gives way to a ?nale of despair.

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