Mario Monicelli, Steno

Sog.: Mario Monicelli, Steno. Scen.: Sergio Amidei, Aldo Fabrizi, Ruggero Maccari, Mario Monicelli, Steno, Fulvio Palmieri, Vittorio Nino Novarese. F.: Mario Bava. M.: Mario Bonotti. Mus.: Nino Rota. Int.: Aldo Fabrizi (cavalier Nino Martoni), Gina Lollobrigida (Margherita), Delia Scala (Vera), Tamara Lees (Franca), Bruno Corelli (Dedè Moreno), Enzo Furlai (Renato Borselli), Giovanni Barrella (impresario), Enzo Maggio (Gigetto), Michele Malaspina (commendator Cantelli), Aldo Giuffrè (barista), Marcello Mastroianni (Carlo Danesi). Prod.: Carlo Ponti Cinematografica. DCP. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

To compete with Alberto Lattuada and Federico Fellini’s independent production, Luci del varietà (Variety Lights), producer Carlo Ponti began developing another film about avanspettacolo (revue) companies. The result was one of the best comedies of the time. It starts as a melodrama and ends bitterly, full of sharp observations about disappearing forms of entertainment and about a provincial Italy, still rural but ideologically divided (as demonstrated by an irresistible episode) between Catholics and Communists. Aldo Fabrizi, the head of a down-at-heel variety troupe, is the cornerstone of the story, but as in so many of Fabrizi’s films, the secondary characters also stand out, especially the women: the delightful Delia Scala, Tamara Lees, who breaks free from her typical ‘bad girl’ role in contemporary melodramas, and Gina Lollobrigida in one of her first leading roles, capable of both being a naïve character and performing wild variety numbers.

Monicelli said: “Thanks to Aldo Fabrizi in Vita da cani we were able to explore the variety show world that really interested us. Fabrizi collaborated on the script because he had a lot of personal anecdotes and memories. In Vita da cani he partially imitates himself and is partially inspired by other more or less well-known actors who didn’t get lucky. Amidei was also familiar with that world and worked on the script. When we were working on it, I didn’t know that Lattuada and Fellini were shooting Variety Lights nor did they know about our film.”

Emiliano Morreale

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Restored in 4K in 2019 by Cineteca di Bologna in collaboration with Surf Film with funding provided by Ministero della Cultura, at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory from a combined dupe positive