Showing posts from February, 2013

The White Sheik [Lo sceicco bianco] (Italy, 1952); Dir. Federico Fellini

Had it been made later in his career one surmises that Fellini's The White Sheik might have more closely resembled the picture it partially inspired: Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo (1984). Both films share a common theme of an unassuming woman being fleetingly transported into a fantasy world of romance and adventure before an inevitable withdrawal back to reality. As it is this is a fairly restrained directorial debut from the Maestro, albeit with plenty of hints of what was to come. The story centres around newlywed couple Wanda (Brunella Bovo) and Ivan Cavalli ( Leopoldo Trieste ), who have arrived at a hotel in Rome for their honeymoon. Whilst the punctilious, petit-bourgois Ivan enthuses about their packed itinerary and meeting with his relatives, Wanda is more concerned with the opportunity to meet try and the star of her favourite Arabian Nights -inspired fumetti* - the eponymous 'White Sheik' - and promptly absconds in pursuit of her idol. No sooner

Mr Deeds Goes to Town (US, 1936, Dir. Frank Capra)

Most people with a passing awareness of film history will have at least heard of Frank Capra, but perhaps not all will appreciate just what an exalted status the director had in 1930's Hollywood. Before the likes of Welles, Hitchcock or Sturges had truly emerged, and long before film writers began scrutinising the output of Howard Hawks and John Ford, Capra enjoyed a standing unseen since the heyday of DW Griffith. This was due in no small part to the enormous success of his seminal screwball comedy It Happened One Night , the top grossing film of 1934 and the first to ever pick up all five major Oscars. It swelled Capra's pockets and his ego, allowing him unprecedented leverage with his studio Columbia (hereafter his name would appear above the title), but with the expectation he could deliver more of the same. For their follow-up Capra and his regular collaborator Robert Riskin eventually settled on a serialised story called Opera Hat, by the prolific author  Cl