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The first two days of a marriage. Ivan, a punctilious clerk brings his virginal bride to Rome for a honeymoon, an audience with the Pope, and to present her to his uncle. They arrive early in the morning, and he has time for a nap. She sneaks off to find the offices of a romance magazine she reads religiously: she wants to meet "The White Sheik," the hero of a soap-opera photo strip. Star-struck, she ends up 20 miles from Rome, alone on a boat with the sheik. A distraught Ivan covers for her, claiming she's ill. That night, each wanders the streets, she tempted by suicide, he by prostitutes. The next day, at 11, is their papal audience. Can things still right themselves? Written by
Sceicco bianco Lo representing Fellini's earlier work hints at the great talent that Fellini would become.
When most people think of Fellini, they think of his films La Strada or La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2, but the director's vast catalogue of films is worth checking out just to see a genius at work. Fellini's early and little known film, The White Sheik proves to be a cinematic gem that not only hints at the director Fellini would become, but also stands on its own as an achievement.
Part soap opera (read Mexican soaps) and part romantic comedy, The White Sheik leans towards surrealism and comic book camp (over 30 years before Kevin Smith created DOGMA). The premise of the story is that two newly weds, Vanda Giardino (Bruenella Boro) and her husband Ivan Cavelli (Leopoldo Trieste) honeymoon in Rome where Ivan hopes to make a good impression of his relations. Unfortunately for him, his wife sneaks out of the hotel room so that she can meet her comic book hero, The White Sheik (Alberto Sordi.
Shot in black and white, this film is gorgeous and surreal. The actors on the set of The White Sheik come across as gypsy or circus like. They sport tough attitudes and this makes a nice contrast to Vanda's wide-eyed innocence.
The White Sheik is technically Fellini's second film, but the first one in which he did not share directing credits. However, he did share writing credits with Michelangelo Antonioni, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli. If you are a fan of La Strada and Nights of Cabiria then you must see this film.
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