Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik) (1952) - Rotten Tomatoes

Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik) (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik) Photos

Movie Info

The White Sheik (Lo Sceicco Bianco), Fellini's first solo flight as director, is a gentle lampoon of the idolatry heaped upon movie stars. An impressionable young bride, Wanda (Brunella Bovo) accompanies her husband Ivan (Leopoldo Trieste) on a dull honeymoon, full of meetings with family members and the papal father. Bovo fantasizes over matinee idol Fernando Rivoli, AKA The White Sheik (Alberto Sordi), the hero of a photo strip comic. She repeatedly drifts away from her husband and back, in periodic attempts to find The Sheik, ultimately repairing to the location site where Sordi's latest film, The White Shiek, is in production. Her inevitable disillusionment with the vainglorious Sordi is intercut with her husband's comic (and desperate) attempts to explain his wife's absences at family gatherings to his disgruntled relatives. After a comically inept suicide attempt, Bovo and Trieste are reunited. Featured in the cast is Fellini's wife Giuletta Masina as a prostitute named Cabiria, who'd be given a vehicle of her own, Nights of Cabiria, in 1955. Based on "an idea" by Michelangelo Antonioni, The White Sheik was the main inspiration for Gene Wilder's The World's Greatest Lover (1977).


Brunella Bovo
as Wanda Cavalli
Leopoldo Trieste
as Ivan Cavalli
Alberto Sordi
as Fernando Rivoli
Ernesto Almirante
as Director of 'White Sheik' Strip
Fanny Marchio
as Marilena Vellardi
Gina Mascetti
as White Sheik's Wife
Enzo Maggio
as Hotel Concierge
Jole Silvani
as Assunta
Mimo Billi
as Man on the Beach
Ugo Attanasio
as Ivan's Uncle
Antonio Acqua
as Police Officer
View All

Critic Reviews for Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik)

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (1)

A funny, sardonic, and clever satire on popular heroes and ordinary people's illusions.

July 31, 2007 | Full Review…

Fellini's solo directing debut, a charming fable about a newlywed couple, shows themes and characters that will reappear in his future work, not to mention the significance of wife actress Masina.

February 5, 2012 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

Warm Flaubertian satire

October 28, 2009 | Full Review…

Clever lighthearted spoof on movie stars.

December 22, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Not one of Fellini's masterworks (and uncharacteristically farcical), but it is a must-see for those interested in the director's oeuvre and an entertaining piece on its own.

August 29, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Fellini would make much better films but this isn't a bad debut.

January 13, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik)

Fellini's first solo effort is this lovely gem that already showcased his talent for combining a neorealist structure with delightful touches of farce and fantasy, especially in those hilarious moments when Leopoldo Trieste is desperate to find his missing wife.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


From Th Criterion Collection, Spine Number 189. THE WHITE SHEIK is a low-budget film set in early 1950s Rome. It concerns a newly-wed couple Ivan (Leopoldo Trieste) and Wanda (Brunella Bovo) who arrive in the city for their honeymoon. Ivan has the arrangements all planned - they will meet his uncle and aunt, see the Pope, visit the sights and enjoy a quiet evening in. However things start to go off the rails when Wanda decides to look for her hero the White Sheik (Alberto Sordi), star of a series of comic-books and films. Her enthusiasm leads her astray from the hotel and into a series of adventures involving her being transported to the film-set, being taken on a boat with the Sheik, lost in the wilderness and taken back to Rome in a strongman's automobile. Ivan tries to look for her, but ends up in a series of adventures of his own as he desperately tries to convince his relatives that everything is perfectly serene in his marital life. Fellini's film rebounds from misadventure to misadventure; it is in fact extremely funny, with wonderful performances from the three leading actors, all of whom understand the importance of gesture and facial expression. Fellini spent his early years working with clowns; it's clear that this experience informs the film. THE WHITE SHEIK has a relatively short running-time - just over 80 minutes - but it is well worth watching. 3 3/4 Stars 9-12-13

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Fellini has such a reputation that it might be difficult to even consider watching his work: "maybe I won't understand it ..." Well there's no reason to fear in this, his first, a light romantic comedy. A young couple's honeymoon is put on hold when the naive wife first stops to pay her respects to the Italian equivalent of a television soap opera star. Its fun, and Rome herself is the backdrop.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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