Six separate episodes: would-be suicides discuss their despair. A provincial dance hall. An investigative reporter posing as a husband-to-be. A young unwed mother. Girl-watching techniques of Italian men. A glimpse into prostitution.
In 1914, a luxury ship leaves Italy in order to scatter the ashes of a famous opera singer. A lovable bumbling journalist chronicles the voyage and meets the singer's many eccentric friends and admirers.
Who would have thought that only moments after arriving at Rome for their honeymoon, the young and pure bride, Wanda, would sneak out of the room, leaving her fastidious groom, Ivan, all alone? Obsessed with the masculine Fernando Rivoli--the hero of her favourite romantic photo-novel, The White Sheik--Wanda plucks up the courage to meet him in person, only to be seduced by the arrogant protagonist, so far away from the hotel and her husband. As a result--perplexed by Wanda's strange disappearance, and unable to disclose the news to his family--Ivan meanders through the ill-lit Roman streets in search of his wife, on pins and needles, waiting for their eleven o'clock appointment with his uncle and the Papal Audience at the Vatican. What does the new day have in store for the separated newlyweds?Written by
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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