Variety Lights (1950)
"Luci del varietà" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  6 December 1950 (Italy)
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Reviews: 11 user | 19 critic

A beautiful but ambitious young woman joins a traveling troupe of third-rate vaudevillians and inadvertently causes jealousy and emotional crises.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peppino De Filippo ...
Carla Del Poggio ...
John Kitzmiller ...
Dante Maggio ...
Checco Durante ...
Theater Owner
Gina Mascetti ...
Valeria del Sole
Giulio Calì ...
Magician Edison Will
Silvio Bagolini ...
Bruno Antonini
Giacomo Furia ...
Mario De Angelis ...
Vanja Orico ...
Moema - brazilian singer
Enrico Piergentili ...
Melina's Father
Renato Malavasi ...
Joseph Falletta ...
Pistolero Bill (as Joe Falletta)


When a young woman of beauty and talent joins a provincial vaudeville troupe, they're suddenly playing to packed houses, and their aging comic Checco Dalmonte gets big ideas. He falls in love with the ingenue, Liliana, and ignores his companion of several years, Melina Amour. (She wants to marry Checco and she's saving to open a deli.) Also, believing he can be an impresario, he hires other actors and begins rehearsal for a revue that will star Liliana and himself. Liliana admires Checco, but she's being squired around town by Adelmo Conti, the assistant to the region's biggest impresario. Can Checco's new troupe hold onto Liliana, and how will Melina fare? Written by <>

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Drama | Music | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

6 December 1950 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Variety Lights  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first film directed by Federico Fellini. See more »


Checco Dal Monte: [to Lily] I'm an artist. So are you. You've got spunk, spunk! You'll see. You and I together, always! I will be the performer. I don't need anyone. I will form the company. I promise you.
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Referenced in Cinecittà: La casa di F. Fellini (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Reassuringly simple story of love, business?
11 June 1999 | by (Ottawa, ON) – See all my reviews

In approaching any film of Fellini's, it is important not to clump his style in the same field of other European 'arthouse' filmmakers such as Bergman, Godard, Antonioni or even Tarkovsky.

From what I understand after viewing a few of his films [namely 'La Strada', 'La Dolce Vita', 'Nights of Cabiria' and now 'Variety Lights'] Fellini draws deceptively simple metaphors and contexts from banal characters often at times, for instance Quinn as the strongman in "La Strada" who exploits the resources and emotions of a simple-minded farm girl and then finds his life imbued with a terrible guilt upon hearing of her death. He knows now that physical strength can no longer be a shield that he wields when life throws him the challenge of reaching out and caring. This is all delicately displayed by Fellini who basically draws these characters with very modest lives and shows their gradual moral breakdown. Unlike Bergman who will use intense, ambiguous and overtly intellectual dialogue showing a couples' slow disintegration, or Antonioni who will use a pantomimed tennis match to illustrate the uncertainty of an artist's future, Fellini simply gives us a glimpse into a common person's vocation and relates it to a much broader social and existential complex. I consider his early work to be representative of modern day filmmakers with a similar style such as Hal Hartley and Jim Jarmusch.

In "Variety Lights" we are given a tale of small-time musicians, dancers, singers, and one naive but well-meaning owner who will do anything to get ahead in life and make his troupe of entertainers an instant success, eventually turning to the wrong people for assistance. This is all basically the back-drop of the owner's floundering marriage, which basically comes to a screeching halt near the end when he begs her for money to take another stab at the show once he's broke. The wife becomes less an endearing necessity of one man's livelihood and more an impetulant cashcow of sorts.

The story is brilliantly written and touching and not overwrought in pretentious 'arthouse' silliness. This is why Antonioni ran out of steam shortly after "Blowup", he began to choke on his own tedious style. "Variety Lights" is not among Fellini's best films but there is nothing shameful about this, his directorial debut.

Apparently Fellini fell into the mix of more ambiguous tones toward the mid-60's, which is fine. I'm all for experimentation so long as it maintains the delicate balance between art and bloated ambiguity.

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