The White Sheik (1952) Poster

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A delightful and enchanting comedy from Fellini
Ymir428 September 2003
"Our real lives are in our dreams, but sometimes dreams are a fatal abyss."

That line above is one of the most beautiful lines I've ever heard in any film. This 1951 comedy feature is free of Fellini's quintessential surrealist vision but filled with the delights of idiosyncratic imagery, genius comical precision, and indisputable humanity.

The film opens in Rome, where a newlywed small-town couple is vacationing on their honeymoon. While in Rome, the (very) young bride takes advantage of being near the location where a new film is being shot that stars The White Sheik, a popular film/serial/newspaper icon whom she is secretly infatuated with. While her husband is sleeping, she sneaks off to find the Sheik and give him a drawing she has made of him. Brunella Bovo, who plays the bride, is new to me, but she was absolutely entrancing in her innocence. Trieste's comic expressions are absolutely arresting. Sordi is hilarious as the Sheik, who is about as unromantic a romantic figure as you can imagine.

Nino Rota's first score for Fellini is a lot of fun and exceptionally carnivalesque. You can tell by the marriage of music and image that Fellini and Rota had a real treasured creative hit-off with this film, and as most know, Rota scored every Fellini film after "White Sheik" until his death in 1979. This great score has never been released in it's entirety, but the main title theme has appeared on many Rota compilations.

An absolutely adorable little film, which seems to have been regrettably ignored by the majority. It's one I will watch many times.
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A rare combination of high comedy and true (though comical) suspense. A real gem.
guanche30 June 2003
The protagonist is a stuffy little bureaucrat from a small town arriving for his honeymoon in Rome with his very sheltered (only a bit more than himself) young bride. He has few romantic thoughts on his mind. His main concern is a meeting with his uncle, a minor official at the Vatican, who has arranged an audience with the Pope.

While the jerk is taking a nap, his bride plots a momentary escape to fulfill her one wild fantasy---A meeting with the "White Sheik" a hero of the "frumetti"---a sort of trashy photographic comic book popular in 50s Italy---to whom she has sent red hot fan mail. She learns that the studio is only a few blocks from the hotel and resolves to meet her secret love for just a minute and get back to the hotel in time. Through a comedy of errors she is accidentally "abducted" to a shooting session where she learns to be careful about what she wishes for. Meanwhile, her husband is desperately searching for her and coming up with all kinds of frantic excuses to his family for her absence. I won't describe the movie any further for the benefit of those who wish to see it.

A very effective comedy with plenty of innuendo for adults and even some slapstick and sight gags. Loads of laughs for young and old. A very sweet story that nevertheless contains some of the surrealistic elements of Fellini's later work. If possible, get the subtitled version. The Italian language enhances the comical effect. A real gem.
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Incredibly sweet and charming film
zetes17 December 2001
This is Federico Fellini's first solo effort, his first film, Variety Lights, having been co-directed by Alberto Lattuada (although it is unmistakably in the style of Fellini's early films). The White Sheik is quite underrated - there's no reason why it should be so much less respected than the other early films, particularly La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, the two most often cited as masterpieces (and I'd agree). I actually like The White Sheik quite a bit better than I Vitelloni, Fellini's next film (Il Bidone is the only one from his early period that I have not yet seen). The White Sheik is quite humorous, perhaps Fellini's funniest (although so many of his films contain a great amount of comedy). No Fellini fan should go without seeing it, because so many of his themes and images are established in it. In fact, no one should miss Variety Lights, either, for the same reason. But The White Sheik, unlike Variety Lights, stands by itself as a great film. 9/10.
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Honeymoon in Rome
jotix10019 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This was Fellini's directorial debut, although he had been involved in the Italian cinema for quite some time as a writer, mainly. "The White Sheik" heralded the great things that Fellini had in store for all his admirers. It is also the debut of a character that will come to life later on, Cabiria, the prostitute with the heart of gold, the eternal optimist, whose story will be told a few years later in full length.

Fellini was indeed inspired for this picture. He was lucky in finding collaborators of the stature of Tullio Pinelli, who will be linked to Mr. Fellini in many other projects, Michelangelo Antonionni, himself a distinguished director, and Ennio Flaiano. The music of Nino Rota adds another layer to this film with its tuneful score. Arturo Gallea's wonderful black and white photography looks as though it was just shot, with its crisp details of that Rome of the early 1950s in all its splendor.

Ivan Cavalli, an older man has married the beautiful, and younger, Wanda. They come from a small town and their honeymoon is to be spent in Rome, taking the sights and visiting his well connected relatives. The arrival at the train station captures the chaos and confusion that looks pretty much the same today. The prim Ivan is taken aback when the clerk at the Tre Fiori hotel shouts to take the couple to the "honeymoon suite" on the third floor.

Wanda, who is much younger, has something else in mind. She, like a lot of women of that era in Italy, loved the romance stories that were beautifully photographed and which had its followers who adored figures like Fernando Rivoli, the hunk male star of those soap opera paperbacks. Wanda, has been corresponding with the office that handles the production of those penny romances, goes to meet her idol. Wanda, a naive woman, is an instant hit with the woman who writes some of the stories, who tells her Fernando is downstairs waiting for her. Well, that's the beginning for Wanda's fling with celebrity.

In the meantime, Ivan awakens to a flooded room because Wanda forgot to turn off the water in the bath tub. Little does he know, but his punctual uncle and his family await the newlyweds downstairs, but Wanda is missing. What to do? Ivan does everything to excuse his absent bride to the uncle, telling them she feels too sick to go with them. Ivan decides to go along with the relatives not knowing what else to do. The visit to the Pope, a highlight of the trip, has to be postponed.

Wanda finds herself on a beach location where some of the White Sheik's photography is to be shot. She makes quite an impression with her idol, who sees in the naive woman an easy prey. Little prepares him for the way everything will turn against him as his jealous wife arrives to the shoot. Wanda, has to find her own way to Rome in the company of a beach goer who sees in Wanda the same thing Rivoli saw: sex!

Leopoldo Trieste, who plays Ivan Cavalli, was the perfect man to play this fastidious man. Mr. Trieste runs away with the picture. The only concern for this stuffy man is his honor. The mere idea of having his good name sullied by Wanda simply is too much for him; it horrifies him. Mr. Trieste, one of the best film actors in Italian cinema makes a wonderful Ivan.

Brunella Bovo appears as Wanda, the young bride. Ms. Bovo is also marvelous in the film. She is a romantic woman who probably is married to Ivan to please her parents. Ivan is the opposite of her idea of what those heroes of the romance novels she adores, must look like. Wanda is horrified when she realizes what her idol Rivoli expects from her.

Fellini and his team were blessed in casting Alberto Sordi as Rivoli. This actor was at an excellent moment in his film career. His larger than life persona dazzles Wanda, but he is like some other handsome hunks that are used to easy females who he lures to bed by telling them what they want to hear.

The ensemble cast is also excellent. Enzo Maggio, a notable character actor, plays the hotel concierge who is more interested in pushing post cards than giving service. Lilia Landi is Felga, one of the models posing for the novels. Ettore Maria Margadonna is seen as the well connected uncle. Giulietta Masina appears toward the end of the film as Cabiria who is walking the streets where she meets the distraught Ivan and comforts him.

This delicious film is a must see for all fans of that genius that was Federico Fellini.
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A very "un-Fellini" sort of film
MartinHafer6 September 2006
This was the first film Fellini directed on his own and it was among his best but most under-appreciated films. While it does not have the usual "Fellini look" (with odd looking supporting characters, unusual stories or unique style), the film is a definite winner--featuring a very cute story and some winning performances. Plus, like most of Fellini's films, the plot is pretty weird--and that I truly appreciate.

A young man and woman are married and come to Rome for their honeymoon. The very organized husband seems to have planned every last detail of the trip--scheduling almost every second of every day and allowing them no time alone or to even consummate their marriage. Instead of trying to get this seemingly inflexible man to bend, the young bride hopes to just slip away from the hotel VERY briefly to go meet her idol, the "White Sheik". Unbeknownst to the hubby, she is an avid reader of an adventure magazine that feature this fictional character--complete with photos and stories about his larger than life adventures and romance. And, she'd been writing him for some time and her only real desire in Rome was to spend just a brief moment with him. However, when she arrives at the office that publishes the magazine, the actor portraying him in the stories isn't there. But, the folks see she's a real fan and want to help her, so they tell her to get in the truck and go with the camera crew to the shoot. She only has a moment, but agrees--after all, he is her idol.

Well, one thing after another goes wrong and her brief excursion lasts more than a day! In the meantime, the new husband is panic-stricken but doesn't want to tell his uncle or his family--he's too embarrassed to tell them he's misplaced his wife! And, for the next day or so, he makes one excuse after another to explain why she isn't there to go on their fully packed itinerary! The story is very cute and charming, it provides a few laughs. In many ways, it reminds me of the later film THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (where Mia Farrow is a devoted fan of a movie serial star and sees the same film again and again), but it is both more charming and ultimately has a better and more upbeat ending.

PS--I know this may make me sound like I am not "with it", but I really do prefer most of Fellini's earlier films and hate the "über strange" films from later in his career (such as SATYRICON). This is a wonderful film that is sure to please everyone--even those who don't think they like the films of Fellini.
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I think I may agree with the notion...
MisterWhiplash10 January 2005
...that Federico Fellini, one of the most gifted and visually wild Italian directors of the 20th century, blossomed out until with his masterpiece 8 1/2 (which, by the time he got to, as Martin Scorsese once said, "he was on Mars"). With his first solo effort, parting ways with Rossellini but not entirely from neo-realism, he went back to one of his passions- comic-book writing. Los Sciecco Bianco (The White Shiek) is likely one of Fellini's funniest works, and it shows him gearing up his visual sense of space, and with his trademark characters (set, which is his usual, in Rome).

The story is quite simple and, for the novice to Fellini's daring feats of the 60's, entertaining and accessible. A man with a level of pride in his family's connections in bureaucracy and religion in Rome (played by Leopoldo Triste, with perfect usage of wide eyes), is married to a young woman, Wanda (Brunella Bovo). She loves him, but finds him perhaps a little un-easy to be around for a day. So, she sneaks off for what she thinks is just a momentary call for fandom- she's a big fan of 'the white sheik', the star of the kinds of comics being printed in Italy (mostly for women, as said on the DVD, they were still photos as opposed to drawings, with pulp/love stories). But, in a Fellinian twist, Wanda gets whisked away by the shooting crew of the series, and Ivan (Triste) is stuck in one of those text-book comic situations, where everything is "under control". The results are rather funny, if also intriguing.

The little characters are also what makes the film fun, aside from our lead couple, and with this film we get the white sheik himself, Fernando Rivoli (Alberto Sordi, who finds that line between a stealthily romantic type and hopelessly dim), and the crew, filled with their little comments. Plus, there is a late-night visit to Ivan in a despairing state, from Cabiria (later to appear in one of Masina/Fellini's best combinations, Nights of Cabiria), involving a flame shooter. And as the film unravels, it becomes key to the fun- we know things will turn out right somehow, but how is what makes the film work (unlike Fellini, some might think, as many of his other films are the opposite, with flights of fantastical comedy in hopeless tragedies). It's not a great film, there are some inconsistencies, and at a couple of points the pace loses its strength. But if this was a place to evolve from for the director, it's not a bad place in the slightest. That there are wonderful turns for Trieste, Bovo, Marchio, and legendary composer Nina Rota, is another reason to watch it.
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Sceicco bianco Lo representing Fellini's earlier work hints at the great talent that Fellini would become.
crow-5013 January 2000
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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My brief review of the film
sol-21 July 2005
Quite an interesting comedy with ideas about fantasy versus reality, a wonderful Nino Rota score, and great work by Bovo, an actress who can capture some great expressions on her face: realistically big-eyed, naïve and innocent, as is required for her character. The film does however suffer from unevenness, trying to balance two styles of comedy - light-hearted semi fantasy and silly slapstick. By themselves either style works fine, but when joined together, it becomes a little messy. The film is not really helped by excessively silly supporting characters, and Trieste feels very over-the-top at times. Still, the aforementioned virtues, and interesting camera-work with an extensive range of different angles, are enough to keep this film afloat. Definitely recommended, even if not perfect.
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Calling all Fellini Lovers
jolesmiles4 July 2006
A classic Fellini comedy, with all the atmosphere of a carnival that fans expect. Brunella Bovo is lovely, naive, well-meaning, but lead astray by a philandering playboy. Meanwhile, her new husband seems doomed to appear utterly insane to his family who has come to Rome to meet his blushing bride--suddenly disappeared. Charming, funny, what's not to love? Oh, and Guilietta Masina arrives in her role as the kind and sensual Cabiria--icing on the cake! While certainly not the greatest Fellini film on record, it makes for pleasant viewing. Yes, the behavior of the characters is hardly exemplary, but then, would that be entertaining?
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The Not So White Sheik
Rindiana12 September 2009
Likable early Fellini told in a sprightly farcical vein, with good-natured jabs against hypocritical family honour, marital disharmony and the hokeyness of pulp kitsch.

The situations are a tad too low-key to work as premium farce, but the humanity and naturalness that are invested in the story and the characters, despite all tendencies to rely on stereotypes, render this pic highly watchable, if not as memorable as later films made by the master director.

And in an age when satire is often equated with a misanthropic attitude it's nice to witness a more empathic way to get one's knuckles rapped.

7 out of 10 pitying prostitutes
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Splendidly Goofy Uber-Italian Delight
jzappa3 September 2008
The White Sheik is a characteristically distant film by Fellini, a giggle-inducing featherweight screwball comedy that opens very cynically on the first two days of a marriage, a socially meticulous layman having brought his virgin bride to Rome for their honeymoon, a meeting with the Pope, and to introduce her to his uncle. When he takes a nap, she, already regretful and bored, sneaks off to find the offices of a romance magazine she reads devotedly with the intent to meet the film's title character, a manly soap opera hero. Blindly smitten, she does not care when she finds herself far from Rome, alone on a boat with this hunk, hilariously over the top with Alberto Sordi in the role, leaving her distraught groom to scramble covering for her. Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni's goofy set-up leads to a hilarious satirical turning point and subsequently Fellini's trademark lingering and wanderlust.

This is self-steering gear, one you can watch very easily and indifferent to the characters' pain, pleasure, grief or joy because Fellini wants only to have some farcical fun at arm's length. As always, even Nino Rota's lush, carnivalesque music is almost incidental, as if it were source music, complete with Fellini's quaint imagery. Really, it is quite a funny movie.
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A Little Comic Gem from a Master Director
l_rawjalaurence21 July 2013
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.
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A brilliant and entertaining film
kermatio18 January 2007
There is a curious "review" that begins the section of reviews for this film, in which one of the users of this website has written a scathing denouncement of this film. I don't quite know where this comes from (probably a prank) but it isn't relevant and it is the only such review. This is a brilliant film, Fellini's second opus, and bears many of the trademarks of Fellini: the sweeping shots of the streets of Rome, the Nino Rota score, the "decadence on the beach" sequence. It is also quite a clever parody of film genres and styles. And I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it contains a delightful scene with Giulietta Masina as Cabiria, the role which is expanded in the film Nights of Cabiria five years later.
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The seed of Fellini´s esthetic
dbracher18 November 2001
One of the earlier Fellini´s films, Lo Sceicco bianco show some of Fellini´s style: weird characters, bizzare and oniric situations, and abouve all a lot of lirism, showing how beatiful life can be.

The film is an acid comedy about fans and showbiz. A pure fan of printed soap operas met her beloved hero, a kind of Rodolfo Valentim. But the meeting will show her some of the truth about showbiz. Fellini transforms what could be an tragedy in a nice story of redemption.

A great surprise is the participation of Giulietta Massina as Cabíria. Cabíria appears as a common person, not yet as a prostitute, but adds a lot of lirism to film. In my opinion Nights of Cabiria and La Nave Va are the two best of Fellini.

Worth seeing
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Fun Fellini
kijii23 November 2016
I LOVE this movie! It's so nice to see a fun Fellini movie with pure humor—no deep symbolism, semi-autobiographical narcissism, or self- analysis here. I think that this is one of the few non-English movies where I laughed out loud--while viewing it by myself!! The plot is funny enough, but the thing that really nailed it for me was the expressions and gestures of the two main characters.

The movies starts as a couple comes to Rome on their honeymoon. Since the husband's uncle is an important public official, he has arranged a VIP tour of the city for them-—including an audience with the Pope!!. The husband, Ivan (Leopoldo Trieste), is anxious for everything to go well for between his uncle and his new wife, Wanda. (Brunella Bovo). However, Wanda is swept away by the chance to visit a photographic comic book studio (or fumetti) where a serial romance with her favorite star, 'The White Sheik,' is being made. She wants to know the future of the fumetti plot and get 'The White Sheik's autograph.

When Wanda disappears, Ivan is left to make excuses to his uncle for her whereabouts. In the meantime, she is taken away into by the fumetti group's photograph sessions. As time runs low, they are both left on a comical verge of a nervous breakdown.
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Respectable Start
gavin694212 May 2016
Two young newlyweds from a provincial town, Wanda (Brunella Bovo) and Ivan Cavalli (Leopoldo Trieste), arrive in Rome for their honeymoon. Wanda is obsessed with the "White Sheik" (Alberto Sordi), the Rudolph Valentino-like hero of a soap opera photo strip and sneaks off to find him, leaving her conventional, petit bourgeois husband in hysterics as he tries to hide his wife's disappearance from his strait-laced relatives who are waiting to go with them to visit the Pope.

"The White Sheik" was Fellini's first solo effort as a director. He had previously co-directed "Variety Lights" in 1950 with Alberto Lattuada. Of course, we know now that Fellini went on to be one of the world's biggest directors and Lattuada is forgotten. And this is a solid effort, both fun and funny. Some have compared it to Chaplin, which is an exaggeration, there's definitely a promising career showcased here.

The plot line was re-used by Woody Allen in his film "To Rome with Love", not one of his bigger films. But it is always nice to see Allen pay tribute to his heroes, Fellini and Bergman.
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Light Comedy Probes Questions of Dreams, Pop Culture Icons and Familial Honour
David Le Sage2 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Fellini's earliest vehicle, the White Sheik, is a screwball comedy that has aged well, due to its light touch and social critique.

The story of a bride and groom who travel to Rome to meet relatives and the Pope at a mass gathering of newly-weds, the narrative depicts how they both cope when the girl absconds to meet her hero, the male model who features in an ongoing photo-serial in a pulp magazine.

During the comic proceedings that follow, she discovers it may be best to live with the illusion of her icon than meet him in the flesh. Indeed, Fellini explores the question of which is better, real life or a dream, in detail as the story unfolds.

The kitsch tackiness of the soap opera magazine and its decidedly uncultured models contrasts sharply with the street scenes of Rome where every fountain and statue is emphasised by the subtle, yet well-executed cinematography.

The groom's obsession with family honour is also scathingly examined, including his devotion to the ultimate "father" of his religious denomination, the Pope, and his desire to meet him and appear good before him. The final scene, which lingers on the facade of the Vatican, perhaps indicates just how much facades have played a part in this comedy. When the groom meets with the Pope, perhaps he too will have his illusions shattered when he sees that the man is not really like how he is portrayed. This question is left lingering at the film's end, leaving the audience wondering how this reception will go.

Nevertheless, the main strand is answered as the bride recognises that even her husband, despite all of his flaws, is the true white sheik intended for her.

The acting is good for this type of film, with the two leads highly adept at comic expressions.

The soundtrack likewise emphasises the lighthearted nature of proceedings and provides a tempo to match the comic proceedings.

Ultimately, this film will appeal to more than just Fellini enthusiasts. It remains a classic comedy that can be enjoyed by all of the family.
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a horrible, disgusting, abomination to the film industry.
Modalrose1829 June 2002
I recently viewed this movie and was left in awe at the sheer awfulness that this film portrayed. You would actually have to compliment the writers for making such a disgusting film, because to my knowledge no being who had any semblence of dignity could be capable of making such a horrible movie. Translations from the attempt at italian in this movie were terrible. In conclusion, avoid this film at all costs.
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"You'll be my White Sheik now". Good girl, Wanda--as if she had any other choice.
felixoteiza25 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Not every housewife, maid, teen, was lucky enough to have TV--and soaps--in the postwar period, as it was the case in North America, and for them someone invented cartoons made of pictures. Wildly popular before TV arrived in households around the world, they allowed women to dream of adventure and love in exotic places, far away from their day to day lives Now, under the guise of a satirical look at these Fumetti, to those who made them and to those who consumed them, Fellini takes here a uncompromising look at social conventions that entrap people in predetermined roles.

The plot is simple: a couple of provincial newlyweds arrive in Rome for their honeymoon and they set in their hotel. He has consciously elaborated a formal schedule that includes visits with relatives and an audience with the Pope. But she has other ideas too, and profits of his nap to escape, to go to a nearby weekly that publishes her favorite fumetti, the White Sheik, with which lead she's in love from a distance. Things happen that take her away to 20 ml. from the city, where some shooting is going on. She gets to meet her idol yes, but, after some romantic preamble he shows to be nothing but a lecherous, adulterous leech. The shooting ends up ugly for her, lost in the bush and having to go back to Rome feeling stupid and in shame for having betrayed the trust her husband had put on her. This last, meanwhile has been more than busy trying to explain away to his relatives the absence of his wife in the occasion. Things become desperate for both and she even contemplates suicide at one point, but finally everything ends well...or so it seems.

After reading a number of reviews of TWS I'm surprised to see that nobody seem to have understood this film. They wrongly assume the plot being all about Wanda living in a fantasy world, turning her back to reality, represented here by her husband, a man with both feet firmly on the ground, even if one giving much importance to social conventions & protocols. But that's just an appearance, only the wrapping for the flick, its substance being a bit more philosophical and socially relevant. What really lies beneath this plot is the sad condition of people who cannot live otherwise than playing a role. Under the dark comedy lies an even darker reality, which is made obvious when both newlyweds find themselves in their respective breaking points: he's wandering the streets with a harlot and she's trying to commit suicide (in what must be the funniest suicide attempt ever in movies). These two are desperate, but no because they love each immensely and are afraid of losing the other, but because they fear they have lost that component allowing them to play their intended social roles, he that of a respected husband and patriarch and she, that of a virtuous wife. It's the loss of that social status what leads them to desperation, not the possibility of a premature end of their "romance"--which is nowhere to be seen anyway as there isn't the faintest hint here that they even like each other anyway. So, the logical conclusion we can draw is that they are very much alike, that the good thing their 24 hr. odyssey did for them was to make that clear putting them back in the plot they belonged, playing the roles meant for them, but now with no confusion or misunderstanding. That's why they look so happy at the end; why she sports such a beatific smile, her eyes closed, when going to see the Pope. She hasn't left her fantasies behind; all she has done is transferring them to her new husband, which will allow her to play her wife role. That's why his face lightens up too, in glee, when reassured she's still a virgin. Mutual trust, love, loyalty are not issues here; they never were. All what counts in their situation is their respect for those social protocols and conventions that have been tailored for them. That's why those critics who see the conclusion as one of Wanda finally discarding her fantasies and coming to terms with reality are wrong: all she has done is to transferring them elsewhere--changing imaginary love for marital bliss--where they be more useful to allow her to play her statued social role.

The film is already good enough for its plot, but what makes it remarkable is Fellini's skill in choosing Trieste as a lead. Both were making their respective debuts, one as the director and the other as an actor, despite of which the end result is brilliant. Trieste is a natural, as Fellini himself pointed out; all what he had to do was to put him in intriguing, afflicting, desperate situations and register his reactions; his astonishment at being treated that way by life. Bovo is also brilliant, her facial features seeming to have imprinted on them an eternal freshness, a forever innocent look, with makes her perfect for the starry eyed, living on clouds, Wanda. Sordi plays a relatively small role here but I'm not complaining: he'll be playing the same lecherous, opportunist eel still for decades. The rest of the cast do OK, I only wish I could have seen more of Felga. Massina only plays a cameo, already walking the streets as Cabiria. Good cinematography, smooth pacing, nice counterpoint between the scenes of both wandering newlyweds. Funny scenes: when Wanda dictates her corny Adieu to an hotel clerk--" may be a bottomless pit..." " that like the B of banana?"--her suicide attempt; Ivan being mistaken for a nut; Wanda's and Ivan's moaning duet, when he finally finds her, similar to that in Clockwork Orange when Alex regains consciousness.

In all, a funny, dark comedy on social conventions and status. 7.5/10 plus a bonus 0.5 for the genius casting of the leads.
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One of the best early Fellini films
TheLittleSongbird28 August 2012
While not one of my favourite Federico Fellini films, this is one of his best early films, almost as good with Il Bidone and on par on I Vitelloni. As ever with Fellini it is beautifully filmed with a touch of quaintness, and his direction is restrained compared to his later films and with a mischievous touch of comedy and fantasy. Nino Rota's score is rousing and cheerful, almost like being at a carnival, while the writing is funny and moving- one of the most beautiful lines of any of Fellini's movies is "Our real lives are in our dreams, but sometimes dreams are a fatal abyss"- and the story is comically precise and sympathetic. The characters are engaging, again while not as identifiable as La Strada and Nights of Cabiria they are not detached as Casanova and Satyricon. Alberto Sordi's performance is top drawer as the dissolute titular character, while Leopoldo Trieste is arresting in his comic timing and Brunella Bovo is wonderfully innocent and entrancing. Giulietta Masina would go on to do even better performances like in Nights of Cabiria but she is still terrific. Overall, a great Fellini film. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Early Fellini really an excellent movie comic and somewhat surreal
dfwforeignbuff26 May 2010
The White Sheik (Lo Sceicco Bianco) I had taken a break from writing movie review for a while and my rating dropped one point from 298 to 299. The past few months I had been trying to watch every film available on DVD by Fredrico Fellini. This is one of his earlier movies even before La Strada and Dolce Vita. Plot: 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 be made right? Interestingly enough the prostitute in this movie gets her own movie (Nights of Cabriria) in a couple years. Cabriria was played by Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina) Nights of Cabriria is one of my favorite and Fellini's most powerful movies. The Sheik is fun and interesting. It is a comedy but not filled with all the surreal things of his later movies (but some of the surrealness is still there). Still the images framing and photography are impressive and it is easy to see the makings of a great film maker. By today's standards the plot is a bore. The films historical moral perspective on husbands wives marriage etc is interesting compared to our "no standards anything goes" today. Still it is good fun comic slapstick and motion comedy stuff. Evidently this film is Federico Fellini's first solo effort, his first film, Variety Lights, having been co-directed by Alberto Lattuada. The film is 50 years old There is visible damage and pops and hisses on the soundtrack. At times the image quality looks like it is of Criterion "Rebecca" levels, but it is never consistent showing a little excessive grain and damage at times. Maybe Maybe soon there will be new restored version as this is an excellent film.
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Real life consists of dreams.
bobsgrock31 August 2009
The name Fellini brings to mind some of the great films of the 20th century; La Dolce Vita, La Strada, and 8 1/2 come to mind. However, every legend has a beginning, and Fellini's was here. Here, we see the neo-realist influence that affected most of his early work, and it works perfectly to capture the hustle and bustle of the city of Rome as well as tell the story of a newlywed couple on a perfect honeymoon with a not-so perfect relationship.

Fellini does remarkable work in cutting back and forth between the travels of the bride as she seeks out her favorite soap opera star, The White Sheik, and that of the groom desperately trying to impress his family. It gives a sense that even if dreams seem more fun and desirable than the real world we live in, it is not always perhaps the most beneficial path. This is a theory that seemed to change with time as Fellini's films became more dream-like, but here it is apparent that realism reigns, at least for this awe-struck couple.
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Cinematic honeymoon of Fellini
Marcin Kukuczka22 May 2008
Having seen most of Federico Fellini's movies, any viewer who not only watches the films but experiences the cinema may draw the conclusion that the director changed his style over the years. In other words, he turned to be more "skeptical" more "knowledgeable" and more "dreamlike." To realize that, we have to consider his earliest films - his honeymoon period - for clearer understanding of the change. The movie that resembles Fellini's freshness most is LO SCEICCO BIANCO. Here, it is hardly the Fellini we know from JULIET OF THE SPIRITS or CITY OF WOMEN. It is a fresh, genuine, young Fellini where some viewers even fail to recognize the director. Nevertheless, if one watches the film more deeply, it is possible to notice something characteristic of Fellini. To make it more clear, let me briefly look at the content first.

A young couple from the provincial part of Italy, Ivan Cavalli (Leopoldo Trieste) and Wanda Giardino Cavalli (Brunella Bovo), come to Rome for their honeymoon. Here, mind you that honeymoon symbolizes not only the mutual freshness, appreciation but also the lack of boredom resulting from routine of life. The honeymoon also appears to be the sort of "illusive prelude" to the everyday. Ivan is very strict, honorable and plans the visit exactly to the very letter with the schedule list which contains introducing of his wife to his noble family, sightseeing of Rome and the climax of the stay: the audience at the pope's. Wanda, however, is more "light hearted", enthusiastically absorbed in arts of 24th May Street and aims rather at adventure than at the formal side of the visit. When they enter the Tre Fiori Hotel, she soon disappears fleeing into the world of her dreams, illusions and fantasies. Will she find the stay at her illusive world of a white sheik (Lo Sceicco Bianco) more comfortable and convincing?

While analyzing the content (not revealing more of it), I think that this is one of the movies where Fellini is mostly HIMSELF. He touches similar themes like in his later movies, including social criticism, formality in relations, dominance, destructive illusions, social discrepancies, and disillusion. Yet, he remains absolutely clear. Criticizing social conventions, he aims at addressing the problem: what should the marital status be like? While discussing dominance, he seems to draw our attention to the different personalities of the couple. Most importantly, however, Fellini develops the destructive effect of illusions, which he would do in many of his later films, paying attention to Wanda's fanatic idolatry and fantasies: "real life is a dream." When she enters the 24th May Street and, more strictly, when she meets the white sheik, isn't that Cabiria entering the house of Alberto Lazzari in Fellini 1957 movie? Is the world of art separated from the ordinary world? Had Wanda better just get the autograph and a cigarette as a souvenir and leave in order not to be led into unpleasant disillusion?

But, according to my deeper analysis of the themes, you may falsely conclude that the movie is pretty psychological. In no way! It is a humorous story, witty adventure with moments at which you will rather split your side than reflect. The atmosphere is perfect for ordinary viewers as well as Fellini buffs. It is not a Felliniesque movie but reveals more the characteristics of I VITELLONI, LA STRADA and NIGHTS OF CABIRIA. Moreover, LO SCEICCO BIANCO can boast wonderful cinematography with really well managed images. Concerning wit, the most memorable moments for me were two, in fact. One being Ivan who gets informed where Wanda is and, consequently, his sentence: "Dear uncle, the name of Cavalli..." ends with "we will meet in the Vatican at 11 o'clock..." The other being the final moment when the noble family at last gets to know Wanda, the uncle says "Wanda Carissima!" (dearest Wanda) and their memorable walk towards St Peter's Basilica. Except for the two, there are many other witty moments that I won't reveal now. You must see the film. As far as camera is concerned, the absolute visual masterwork for me was the first view of the white sheik. We see him illusively, like Wanda regards him... And another strong point to be mentioned here: the wonderful music by Nino Rota, a mainstay in Fellini's films. UNFORGETTABLE!

The performances of the movie constitute the different aspect I'd like to discuss in the separate paragraph. There are many non professionals but it does not reduce the value of the movie. The cast do extraordinary jobs, including the leading couple: Leopoldo Trieste and Brunella Bovo as well as Alberto Sordi in the role of the white sheik and many of the supporting cast. Here, it is important to mention that Fellini had that very significant flair for casting people. But, the most important fact is that we can see Giulietta Masina in LO SCEICCO BIANCO. She plays...Cabiria, different one than a few years later. She appears in one scene but what a terrific performance it is! For me, it was the best scene of the movie. Masina is given very little time on screen in an undeveloped role, yet we all get the clear point of her portrayal and once you see her, you never forget her.

Very good film that I highly recommend anyone to see! To me, it appeared as if a "cinematic honeymoon" period of Fellini, of his skillful direction, of his themes' development and the particular charm that he skipped later. LO SCEICCO BIANCO is what movies have best: entertainment and education. Who was Wanda's white sheik in the end? Don't we also have "white sheiks" in our lives that lead us more often into illusions and, unfortunately, more rarely into disillusions? 9/10
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