Nights of Cabiria doesn't live up to its formidable reputation but at the same time it doesn't exactly disappoint. Massina is not a good actress by any stretch of the imagination, too overreliant on volume and exaggeration for much of the film, but she is ultimately an affecting one when she stops yeling and just lets her face tell the story. It's Fellini at his most Chaplinesque and its when it harks back to silent cinema that it's at its best. Her boyfriend's sudden change of character at the end seems to come completely out of leftfield and doesn't altogether convince, but it does allow for a truly beautiful final sequence. And it's interesting that of all the things for the Catholic Church to object to about the film, the one that incensed them enough for the sequence to be removed was a man with a sack dispensing blankets and chocolates to derelicts, a touching scene that acts both as a harbinger of Cabiria's probable fate and an affirmation that there is still some good in the world.
Criterion's US NTSC DVD is a good presentation, boasting the uncut version with the long-deleted 'man with the sack' sequence, interviews with Dominique Delouche and Dino De Laurentiis, an extract from Fellini's The White Sheik where Massina's character made her first brief appearance and the original Italian trailer plus the US reissue trailer.