Sad story of a waif, Gelsomina, who is sold by her mother to Zampano for 10,000 lire and a few kilos of food. Zampano is a traveling showman who exhibits feats of strength by breaking a chain wrapped around his chest. He performs in village squares and then passes the hat for whatever the normally small crowd is prepared to give. He teaches Gelsomina a drum roll as part of his introduction. He doesn't treat her well and when she tries to run away, he beats her. They eventually join a small traveling circus where they meet a tight-rope walker who convinces Gelsomina to question her choices. Written by
Anthony Quinn said in an interview a few years before his death that he originally accepted a deal that would have paid him a percentage of the profits this film generated instead of an upfront salary. When his agent found out about it, the agent changed the deal and insisted an upfront salary and no percentage. Quinn said that decision cost him several million dollars. See more »
In the last scene, despite being on the beach at night with no lights about, Zampanò casts shadows in three different directions. See more »
I saw this film in 1954 and every Fellini film since. Basehart and Quinn under Fellini's skillful direction add a chemistry to Masina's portrayal of innocence that is incredible. I would argue this is Fellini's best film. Everything works. It is so full of little things, from the farm folk hired as extras to the rubber boots worn by Quinn striding into the ring to do his corny strongman act. Fellini nearly drove Masina crazy during the filming-- he wouldn't let her bath or wash her hair for weeks on end-- but, the end result speaks for itself. There are some excellent comments on this film elsewhere in this section. I suggest you read them. I can only say, this is one of the great films.
38 of 51 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?