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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fellini in transition, 31 Jan 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
I Vitelloni signalled Fellini's move away from neo-realism, with all the trademarks (dwarves, older women, outrageous costumes, anecdotes replacing narrative) that would later become so exaggerated making brief and more naturalistic appearances in his apparently aimless tale of a bunch of time-wasting friends in a small coastal town where the biggest events are growing a moustache or sideburns. That it somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts is quietly magical in its own way, and the amiably dry narration linking the events and non-events underlines the ebb and flow of the film nicely. Oddly enough, I was struck by the similarities to Tony Hancock's later 'The Punch and Judy Man,' which seems to touch on several aspects of small-town inertia without ever hitting the same heights.

There are multiple editions of the film available, but while this remastered PAL edition from Nouveaux is respectable enough, Criterion's Region 1 NTSC DVD is the one to go for, offering a superb transfer with a good retrospective documentary, 'Vitellonismo,' which reveals a surprising degree of studio opposition to casting Alberto Sordi (then thought to be box-office poison after the disastrous commercial failure of Fellini's The White Sheik with the actor but whose career would virtually be made by the film) as well as the original theatrical trailer, stills gallery and booklet.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic early Fellini., 3 Sep 2005
This review is from: I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
'I Vitelloni' is one of the key works in the career of legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini; establishing his early style and attention to character detail, whilst simultaneously inspiring the scope and tone of his later films, Nights Of Cabiria and Amarcord. It's also one of the key-works of the Italian neo-realist movement, offering us an unpretentious and, to some extent, sympathetic portrait of working class Italy, with the stark black and white cinematography managing to find a sense of poetry and pathos in the lives of these wandering souls.
The film seems like an anachronism when compared to some of it's director's later projects, with 'I Vitelloni' making the most of it's static, almost-documentary-like camera perspectives and lingering scenes of quiet conversation... a world away from the carnival grotesques in films like Satyricon or Casanova. There are a few hints of the style that would develop, particularly in the use of composition, character, and overall theme, but for the most part, this is Fellini finding his feet. The depiction of the old seaside town here bares no relation to the gaudy Technicolor fabrication of Amarcord, though it's certainly as lovingly rendered; with Fellini offering empathy and compassion to his characters who, like Mastroianni in his more celebrated films, mostly come across as lazy, feckless, arrogant and chauvinistic. Despite these character flaws however, Fellini is still able to make us understand these characters and feel compassion towards them. By involving us, as an audience, within their everyday lives, conversations, relationships and deepest desires, we feel almost initiated within the group and ultimately end up captivated by their lazy, directionless charm.
The film is greatly entertaining, capturing the spirit of its characters and striking something of a chord within any of us who have ever felt as if life and youth was slowly passing us by. It's by no means a self-pitying film, despite the bitterness and sense of defeat so prevalent in the majority of the characters, there's still a great deal of warmth and humour to them... It's a bittersweet film then, in some respects; giving is the ultimate depiction of vibrant small-town youth slowly metamorphosing into the kind of cantankerous old characters found in every small town across the world. In that respect it has obvious parallels with films like Diner, The Big Chill, Days Of Being Wild, Mean Streets and Spetters, which present a similar depiction of aimless adulthood advancing on a wasted youth (...whilst the depiction of the town and the sentiments of the characters remind me of the Morrissey song, Everyday Is Like Sunday, with the main location here seeming very much like "the coastal town that they forgot to close down!!").
'I Vitelloni' is an intoxicating film... one best watched during a rainy afternoon when you can best empathise with the characters and their aimless decent into the darker side of life. The creation of the characters is perfectly observed, whilst the depiction of the town gives us an evocation of a certain time, place, atmosphere and overall sense of emotion. The direction is strong and shows us a glimmer of the style that would go towards creating iconic films like La Dolce Vita and 8 ½, which means that this could very easily be the best place to start for those new to the films of Federico Fellini.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fellini in transition, 23 Aug 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I Vitelloni signalled Fellini's move away from neo-realism, with all the trademarks (dwarves, older women, outrageous costumes, anecdotes replacing narrative) that would later become so exaggerated making brief and more naturalistic appearances in his apparently aimless tale of a bunch of time-wasting friends in a small coastal town where the biggest events are growing a moustache or sideburns. That it somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts is quietly magical in its own way, and the amiably dry narration linking the events and non-events underlines the ebb and flow of the film nicely. Oddly enough, I was struck by the similarities to Tony Hancock's later 'The Punch and Judy Man,' which seems to touch on several aspects of small-town inertia without ever hitting the same heights.

There are multile editions of the film available, but Criterion's Region 1 NTSC DVD is the one to go for, offering a superb transfer with a good retrospective documentary, 'Vitellonismo,' which reveals a surprising degree of studio opposition to casting Alberto Sordi (then thought to be box-office poison after the disastrous commercial failure of Fellini's The White Sheik with the actor but whose career would virtually be made by the film) as well as the original theatrical trailer, stills gallery and booklet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 July 2014
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This review is from: I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
very pleased, grazie, David.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's Classic Tragi-Comedy, 11 Mar 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
This early (1953) film by Federico Fellini was only his second solo directing excursion, and its seriocomic tale of the exploits of five carefree young men (wasters, if you will) in a backwater Adriatic town belies its creator's relative inexperience, demonstrating a remarkably assured touch. I have always compared I Vitelloni with Luchino Visconti's 1960 masterpiece Rocco And His Brothers, another tale of five men (brothers this time) struggling both economically and romantically, and whilst I probably have a slight preference for Visconti's rather more serious, tragic (and, admittedly at times, overblown) realism, Fellini's film scores more highly on its poetic and comic qualities.

What also comes across very clearly, even in this very early Fellini film, was the director's love of the theatrical set-piece as (perhaps at a rather low-grade extreme) his film opens with an Adriatic beachside beauty pageant, at which young Moraldo's narration introduces us to himself and his four cohorts (in particular the amateur singer Riccardo - played by the director's brother, Riccardo - and philanderer Fausto - Franco Fabrizi - whose pregnant wife Sandra - Leonora Ruffo - wins the Miss Siren contest and then promptly faints). By contrast, Fellini later includes a more typically extravagant carnival scene, in which he bedecks his main protagonists in drag to hilarious effect. These scenes also find the director in satirical mode on one of his pet subjects - the illusoriness of stardom - as new-found 'fans' swoon in front of Miss Siren and, on her fainting, her mother quips, 'Die tonight, when they've made you Miss Siren?'.

At the heart of I Vitelloni, however, are preoccupations with ambition, personal responsibility and honour. These manifest themselves particularly effectively through Fabrizi's superb performance as the serial womaniser Fausto, as he first makes moves to desert his pregnant wife for a job (and presumably independence) in Milan, and then attempts to seduce a glamorous stranger he (and his wife) have just sat next to in the cinema, followed by his boss's wife. Only Fausto's father's sense of honour prevents his son's intended desertion, whilst fellow Vitellono, Alberto (Alberto Sordi), is similarly disgusted at his sister's affair with a married man. Along with Fabrizi's Fausto, for me the other standout acting turn here is that of Franco Interlenghi as Sandra's brother Moraldo, whose subtle and tender portrayal is particularly affecting, as his tolerance of Fausto's duplicity eventually runs out.

Fellini's film contains a whole series of superb sequences, including that where the fifth Vitellono, intellectual, and playwright, Leopoldo (Leopoldo Trieste), having gained an audience for his work with famous actor Sergio Natale (Achille Majeroni), soon bores his listening Vitelloni friends into the arms of a nearby group of actresses - Sergio's subsequent attempt to proposition Leopoldo (in quite a forward scene for its time) also makes for hilarious viewing.

Throughout, I Vitelloni is evocatively shot, whether it be during the Adriatic beach scenes or their urban counterparts, by regular Fellini collaborator Otello Martelli, and also contains a typically sweeping and impressive score by Nino Rota.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A long way to go, 28 Oct 2012
By 
This review is from: I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] (DVD)
I vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953, 103')

Produced by Lorenzo Pegoraro, Mario De Vecchi, Jacques Bar
Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli
Story by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli
Starring Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Franco Interlenghi, Leopoldo Trieste
Cinematography by Carlo Carlini, Otello Martelli, Luciano Trasatti
Music by Nino Rota Editing by Rolando Benedetti

A story of five young Italian men at crucial turning points in their small town lives. Recognized as a pivotal work in the director's artistic evolution, the film has distinct autobiographical elements that mirror important societal changes in 1950s Italy. For Fellini, "vitelloni were "the unemployed youths" of the middle class, mother's pets. They shine during the holiday season, and waiting for it takes up the rest of the year". Today, the term is widely translated as "big calves" (Mondkälber in German).

Screened in competition at the Venice Film Festival on August 26, 1953, the film was awarded the Silver Lion by Italian poet Eugenio Montale who headed the jury, along with a public ovation and acclaim from the majority of critics, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing in 1958. "Belying all doubts about its appeal", the film opened on September 17, 1953 to both commercial and critical success.

It was Fellini's first film with international distribution, and I Vitelloni did reasonable box office in England and North America (to generally positive reviews) while performing "huge in Argentina". Opening in France on April 23, 1954, it was especially well received. The film's success restored Fellini's reputation after the commercial failure of The White Sheik (1952).

One of Fellini's most imitated films, I Vitelloni inspired European directors Juan Antonio Bardem, Marco Ferreri, and Lina Wertmuller. It also had an influence on Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973), Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire (1985), and Barry Levinson's Diner (1987), among many others.

André Martin of Les Cahiers du Cinéma insisted that by "virtue of the quality of the narrative, and the balance and control of the film as a whole, I Vitelloni is neither commercial nor does it possess those traits that usually permit a work of art to be consecrated and defined. With a surprising and effective sense of cinema, Fellini endows his characters with a life both simple and real".

Film critic Geneviève Agel appreciated the maestro's symbolism: "Fellini films a deserted piazza at nighttime. It symbolizes solitude, the emptiness that follows communal joy, the bleak torpor that succeeds the swarming crowd; there are always papers lying around like so many reminders of what the day and life have left behind."

(compiled and edited from Wikipedia - source acknowledged - RC)

Today, I Vitelloni looks like a direct precursor to Amarcord and Roma, the central question being "whether you are strong enough to take the train" to Milan, Rome, and try a new start. Shows rigid family hierarchies and general backwardness, but also has many poetic moments.

201 I vitelloni (Federico Fellini, 1953, 103') -A long way to go - 28/10/2012
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A minor, yet touching work., 18 Nov 2002
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: I Vitelloni [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I Vitelloni (1953) is an early work by Federico Fellini, one that I feel is analogous to Bergman's Summer with Monika (1952)- both are nowhere near the heights of their obvious great works, but are the films where they began to perfect their distinctive styles.
This film can also be seen as an earlier-cousin of films of the nouvelle vague, particulalry Godard's Bande a Part- whose central triad waste their time in a similar way to the 'young calves' here (perhaps a further analogy towards the Beat movement is stretching the point, then again George Lucas was reported in Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls to have used this as the model for American Graffitti. Does this mean Fellini created Happy Days?). In Italian cinema terms, the characters here are slightly more middle-class takes on those found in such classics as Pasolini's Accatone and Visconti's Rocco & His Brothers.
I Vitelloni may be far from a masterpiece of form and philosophy, but for those who were turned off by the less human aspects of Roma or City of Women there is much here. This is also interesting to contrast against the later work, Amarcord- in terms of memory and youth. This film is worth seeing and still has descedents to this day- most notably in Northern-Central American cinema with films like Beautiful Girls, Swingers and Y Te Mama Tambien. Another minor classic, which are sometimes more wonderful than the revered work- such as La Dolce Vita, which I'm still not that keen on! (8 1/2 is a different matter...)
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I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953]
I Vitelloni [DVD] [1953] by Federico Fellini (DVD - 2012)
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