Fellini News Update #10

  • September 28, 2004

1) Anita and Marcello Birthdays

"Who are you, Silvia? You are everything. You are the first woman on the first morning of creation. You are mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home."

The words are Fellini's, brought to life by Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni in the 1960 landmark film, La Dolce Vita. Marcello would have been 80 years old today (9/28/1924). Anita will turn 73 tomorrow (9/29/1931). Their back to back birthdays and last weeks release of the film on DVD are cause for celebration.

The former Miss Sweden, Anita has had an interesting career, both capitalizing on and suffering as a result of her larger than life femininity. In dozens of films she gamely played along with the likes of Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, in a series of zany and forgettable films. (My personal fave is Agatha Christies, The Alphabet Murders.) She even appeared on What's My Line in 1958 as a "mystery guest". Thanks to La Dolce Vita, she became a star of iconic proportion. The films international success marked the pinnacle of of her career. She worked again for Fellini in, The Temptation of Dr. Antonio, The Clowns and Intervista, but she will be forever remembered as Silvia, an earthly goddess, in Fellini's masterpiece.

Marcello's career (over 150 films) seemed to go on forever. The endearing actor seemed to be born for the silver screen. He worked with most if not all of Europe's great directors including, Antonioni, Visconti, Monicelli and De Sica, in every role imaginable. Despite his reputation as a Latin lover type, Fellini described his face as ordinary-a kind of "everyman's" face. The actresses he worked with would probably disagree with that assertion. Cardinale, Bardot, Lollobrigida, Andress, Welch, Dunaway, Mangano, and Deneuve to name only a few. But it was with Sophia Loren that he achieved, perhaps, the best screen chemistry. They made 10 or so films together, most memorably in, A Special Day, in 1977. But like Anita, it would be his role as Marcello Rubini in La Dolce Vita that would assure his iconic staus. He would go on to work with Fellini in, 8 1/2, A Director's Notebook, City of Women, Ginger and Fred and Intervista.

Speaking of the newly released DVD of La Dolce Vita, the restored widescreen print is gorgeous. But for those who have seen the film a few times, the mock TV commercials, known as Fellini TV, are the real treat. The 21 "featurettes", filmed for Ginger and Fred but not included in that film, are outlandish, often hilarious, and occassionally brilliant. Kind of a cross between Benny Hill and Laugh-In as directed by Fellini on LSD. It's almost as if Fellini has arisen from the dead to entertain us, yet again.

Don't forget! You have a good excuse today to raise a glass of wine to the memory of Marcello Mastroianni and in honor of Anita Ekberg for the priceless film moments they have left us.

Ciao e saluti, Anita e Marcello!