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cinemaspeak59

Il Bidone (1955)

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Somewhere in Fellini's filmography is the overlooked Il Bidone (The Swindle), from 1955. About a trio of small-time con artists who bilk the poor by posing as priests and housing officials, Il Bidone shares with its two predecessors, I Vitelloni and La Strada, futile struggles to create destiny and moral epiphanies that come too late in the game. Italy's post war economic conditions certainly contribute to why people existed in society’s margins as crooks, hookers, freeloaders, and circus buffoons, a nod to neorealism  

 Il Bidone boasts an affecting performance by Broderick Crawford, as Augusto, the leader of swindlers that includes familiar Fellini faces Richard Basehart, as weak-willed Picasso, and Franco Fabrizi as Roberto, reprising his no-good scoundrel role from I Vitelloni. 

There's a scene in which Augusto meets seasoned pro Rinaldo who, unlike Augusto, has made enough money to go legitimate, with a beautiful wife, a fashionable apartment, all which Augusto experiences when he's invited to Rinaldo’s extravagant New Year’s Eve party. It's here he faces the humiliation – it won’t be the last - that at 48 he's too old for his line of work.  An encounter with a crippled girl whose family he’s about to fleece provides a Saint Paul moment for Augusto, a last chance to go straight.

With Giulietta Masina, who plays Richard Basehart’s patient loving wife. Nino Rota's score give Il Bidone a lyrical touch. And there are the evocative studio sets and Rome streets that Fellini uses so well to create atmosphere.

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An overlooked film, definitely, perhaps, in time, it will gain a more substantial reputation.

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On 7/27/2019 at 7:17 AM, rayban said:

An overlooked film, definitely, perhaps, in time, it will gain a more substantial reputation.

I thought it was one of Fellini's weaker films. The con-man isn't very likable and his films work better when the main character is lovably and joyous (like Cabiria).

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