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Entries in La Strada (4)

Monday
Aug052019

De Laurentiis pt 1: "Bitter Rice" and the Fellini Years

This week at TFE we're celebrating the centennial of one of cinema’s most prolific and legendary producers, Dino De Laurentiis.  We’ll start with three of his key influential early films. Here's Eric Blume...

Bitter Rice was De Laurentiis breakthrough international hit. He married its star

De Laurentiis, born outside of Naples, set up his own company in 1946 when he was just 27 years old. He produced four smaller films before making a huge splash onto the international scene with 1949’s Bitter Rice, a film currently available through the Criterion Collection.  Bitter Rice serves up an arresting and hypnotic blend of melodrama, sexuality, and social commentary. The film is set in northern Italy during a typical spring where hundreds of poor women travel to the rice fields to work to the bone for forty days.  There are workers with a legal contract and then the “illegals” who come in hopes of getting an opportunity. Within this sociopolitical context, our story finds two thieves (Doris Dowling and Victoria Gassman) hiding amongst the farm, intertwined in love stories with an impulsive young peasant girl (Silvana Mangano) and a soldier from the nearby station (Raf Vallone)... 

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Thursday
Sep062018

Showbiz History: La Strada, It Chapter Two, The King's Speech

7 random things that happened on this day, september 6th, in showbiz history...

←   1879 Max Schreck born in Berlin. He is immortalized by playing undead Orlok in Nosferatu. Later Willem Dafoe will be Oscar-nominated for playing him in all his creepy eccentric possibly actually vampiric glory in Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

1928 How's this for a weird bit of history? Warner Bros second talkie was released on this day (well, some accounts say August 15th... dates are so iffy the further back you go) and it was a horror film called The Terror. In '28 many theaters had yet to convert to sound so a silent version of the same picture was released the following month. The film is one of many lost films from the era. 

1954 Federico Fellini's La Strada premieres at the tail end of the 15th annual Venice Film Festival...

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Wednesday
Sep062017

OTD: Yul Marries, Macy Screams, Fellini Premieres

on this day in showbiz-related history...

1944 Yul Brynner marries his first wife, actress Virginia Gilmore, in Los Angeles. They're both in their mid 20s. She's already made 15 movies but he's just starting out with two Broadway shows under his belt. Their marriage will last 16 years and they will have one child together. Rock Brynner (their son) will go on to write a book about his dad and their family history.

1954 Federico Fellini's La Strada premieres at the Venice Film Festival and goes on to win the Best Foreign Film Oscar. Fellini will go on to completely own that category, winning thrice more with The Nights of Cabiria (1957), 8½ (1963), and Amarcord (1974)

Macy Gray, The King's Speech, and more after the jump...

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Sunday
Aug302015

La Strada

We close out our 1954 celebration with Amir on one of Federico Fellini's classic from the year...

Writing about canonical classics can be as difficult as it is rewarding. The larger amount of existing texts and the time that has been afforded to an artwork to cement its place in our cultural psyche allow for deeper familiarity and reflection in a way that is impossible with more recent films.  On the other hand, well, fresh angles are harder to find. What is there left to say about a film like Federico Fellini’s La Strada? Not much, but in truth, you can never talk too much about one of the best films ever made.

Growing up as an Iranian cinephile, and gradually getting into more serious films as a teenager, Italian cinema is the most natural foray outside of the local arthouse. Iranian cinema is not as indebted to any Western filmic culture as it is to the films of Italian masters; those films strike a particularly strong resonance. (Consider that the latest poll of the greatest films of all time voted on by Iranian film critics includes The Bicycle Thieves, La Strada and Cinema Paradiso all in the top ten.)

Fellini’s films are of a different breed than the neorealism of Zavattini, De Sica and Rossellini whose influence loomed heavily over the arthouse I was voraciously consuming at the time. To the dismay of some of his contemporaries, Fellini veered off quite drastically from his roots in neorealist cinema. [More...]

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