The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ant-Man and the Wasp
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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (1)
| Fresh (11)
| Rotten (0)
| DVD (2)
The cognoscenti will recognize touches that have turned up in eight Fellini features that followed this one.
It's a refreshingly evocative backstage showbiz pic, that tells a familiar story with much compassion for human frailty.
In as sordid a trade as showbiz, it pays to create theater out of life's miseries
Even in this early effort the whimsical, odd world of Fellini comes dancing forth.
Delightfully charming and whimsical, if nowhere near as consequential as Fellini's best.
a funny, touching film about the foibles of desire and the dreams of stardom shared by both the young and the old
While many viewers may watch it primarily to look for clues as to the filmmaker Fellini would become, there's actually a perfectly satisfying narrative at its core.
It ranks with the more simple pleasures of Nights of Cabiria and La Strada -- in short, some of Fellini's best work.
Federico Fellini co-directed "Variety Lights" with mentor Albert Lattuada, but it clearly bears his stamp -- the showbiz theme and loose, multi-character storytelling foreshadow his entire career. Fellini had not hooked up with composer Nino Rota yet, but the ever-delightful Giuletta Masina is here.
The film's story follows a shabby vaudeville troupe led by the likably vulnerable Mr. Checco (Peppino de Filippo). A beautiful dancer seeking fame (Carla Del Poggio) contrives a way into the act and quickly becomes the star. Checco has a pattern of wooing his "discoveries" and soon falls for the new talent. This upsets his previous conquest (Masina), a dubious "master of disguise" who calls herself Melina Amour. Meanwhile, other problems with personnel and bookings threaten to sink the company.
The first half is far stronger than its second -- once Del Poggio's character grabs the spotlight, the story loses steam. Still, "Variety Lights" is a must for Fellini fans. And perhaps for Woody Allen fans too -- the scenario seems a likely inspiration for "Broadway Danny Rose."
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