A INTER seeing the rest of the films tlat 'the Italian Film Festival in London, I can quite understand why "Neapolitan Fantasy" was chosen for the Royal opening. It was the only one of the batch that did not put the accent on the "life is real, life is earnest" approach.
I believe some of the Italians in the audiences were not too happy that so much of the seamy side of Italy was given prominence.
One important new name emerges —the new director, Federico Fellini, whom I talked with at one of the innumerable parties during the week. He is certainly determined to make no concessions to glamour. His "La Strada" (The Road), which carried off Italy's own Silver Ribbon. even in the face of such formidable competition as the Lollohrigida vehicle. "Love, Bread and Dreams." is two solid hours of realism, with vicarious suffering on the part of the audience.
Fellini's wife, Guilietta Masina, also got the Silver Ribbon for her magnificent portrayal of the halfidiot girl who is sold to an almost sub-human brute of a road entertainer (Anthony Quinn) to act as his stooge. receive his beatings and share his caravan.
It will take a good many supercolossal films to erase this black and white "flattie" from my memory.
It is interesting to note how the two Hollywood actors. Anthony Quinn and Richard Baseheart, have responded to Fellini's direction. (Baseheart plays the part of a circus clown.) They both seem to have been horn and bred on the Italian roadside.
I must say i found both this and Fellini's second film, "1 Vitelloni" ("The Drones" is its English title), too long. They both last two hours. "The Drones' is about a group of chronic adolescents — aged round about 30—who won't work and who batten on their relations.
I got impatient not only with them but their long-suffering relatives. and I hung on to the end only because I hoped they were going to be rounded up and at least some of the worst ones popped into prison. But all that happened was the principal "drone,who added burglary to his sins, got a leathering from his tired and ageing father.
Besides the two Italian films already running in London. "Neapolitan Fantasy" (Marble Arch Pavilion) and "Bread, Love and Dreams" SCurzon). I understand that "La Strada" has also been hooked: date not yet decided.
THE HAPPINFSS OF THREE WOMEN Studio One: Certificate U Director: Maurice Elvey
' EAR Brutus" and "Three Coins Din the Fountain" seem to he in the family tree of this quietly amus
ing story of a motley group who come to stay at a little Welsh inn which has a wishing well in the courtyard.
A quarrelling couple, a widow entombed in petrifying grief. a rich woman bored to death are among the guests.
The owner is a forthright Welsh woman (Brenda de Banzie, of "Hobson's Choice" fame); her admirer is the village postman (Eynon Evans): her son (Donald Houston) is paralysed. and his girl (Paula Clark) refuses to give him up because of it.
Films about Wales can always be counted on to contain certain stock ingredients such as splendid singing and "characters." And they are on prominent display here.
"Characters" are getting rarer in this standardised age and maybe Wales. the further reaches of Scotland and a few isolated spots in England are the last strongholds. So we welcome Eynon Evans's postman (who. of course. reads all the postcards), and Brenda de Bantie's innkeeper. A welcome also to Gladys Hay, making her film debut in the part of the newly rich visitor who is still at heart a hard-working barmaid.
The play on which the film is based can be plainly seen at times, but in its unpretentious way. this is a gay. lightsome interlude in the spate of highly coloured, vast dimensional supers that now 1111 the West End,
WHITE CHRISTMAS Plaza: Certificate U Director: Michael Curtiz
YOU'VE heard about Vistavision. Well, here it is. And it is being launched by four of the biggest names in show business — Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye. Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
Has the size and depth of the screen diminished the stature of the actors? 1 think it has. Even Irving
Berlin, who has written the music, seems to have been overawed, so that his tunes lack their usual sparkle.
The four principals are linked in a sentimental story of a retired General (Dean Jagger) who is facing ruin because the snow has failed to fall in Vermont, and his hotel, in which he has sunk his gratuity and which depends on winter sports, is about to be liquidated.
Only Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen get any real breaks and that only when they are dancing.
One group number entitled "Choreography." a satire on selfconscious "art," gets top marks.
THE BARE-FOOT CONTESSA Odeon. Leicester Square Certificate A Director : Joseph L. Mankiewicz
ALIFE-SIZE statue of Ave Gardner in some shining white material stands in the foyer of the Odeon. It is a replica of one we see constantly throughout this tale of a Spanish gipsy dancer who goes from rags to riches via Hollywood and who later falls deeply in love with and marries an Italian nobleman.
When she is going to have a child 1-i% a peasant because she can never hive one by her husband, he kills her.
The funeral at Replica in the drenching rain, is attended by the men who helped her to fame. Each in turn takes up the narrative. Humphrey Bogart, writer and director of her pictures; Edmond O'Brien. publicity man to the millionaire moron who produces her pictures, and the husband, Rossano Brazzi.
Not taking part in the narrative but very much in the picture is Marius Goring as a very wicked but very amusing tycoon.
Deftly written and directed by Mankiewicz, with economic and clever dialogue, acted in top gear, especially by the men, with Miss Gardner looking superb and moving with grace—this should he a considerable film.
It is wonderful while it lasts—and vet, when it is over, very little has been said. The eye and the ear are engaged, but not the heart and the mind.
The locale moves from Spain to Holland, to the Riviera, to Italy. 'there is some good, hard sniping at the "international set" who smear suntan oil all over Eden Roc and swarm all over the cassino.