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Aging small-time con man Augusto, who swindles peasants, works with two younger men: Roberto, who wants to become the Italian Johnny Ray, and Bruno, nicknamed Picasso, who has a wife and daughter and wants to paint. Augusto avoids the personal entanglements, spending money at clubs seeking the good life. His attitude changes when he runs into his own daughter, whom he rarely sees, and realizes she's now a young woman and in need of his help to continue her studies. His usual partners are away, so he goes in with others to run a swindle, and they aren't forgiving when he claims he's given the money back to their mark. They leave him beaten, robbed, and alone. Written by
What a sad film. Broderick Crawford heads a small band of con men but is getting too old and pathetic for the game. He is brilliant in the role and we barely sympathise with him once as he gradually fades away. The men are wretched to their women. There is a woman in the front car seat who gets thrust into the windscreen to accommodate a hoodlum getting or out behind her and another forced to strip by a bunch of guys at a party. The only moments where any sort of humanity show through is when Crawford decked out as a priest gets told the wonder of life by a young crippled girl he is about to ruin. I guess things must have been bad in Italy after the war and actions such as squeezing life savings out of peasants seemed fair game but it is wretched to watch grown men stoop so low. Great film making though and Fellini is so assured a prison sentence is dealt with by use of a fade. Hardly a feel good movie but well worth seeing.
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