The White Sheik. 1952. Italy. Directed by Federico Fellini. Screenplay by Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano. With Alberto Sordi, Brunella Bovo, Leopoldo Trieste, Giulietta Masina. Music by Nino Rota. In Italian; English subtitles. 4K DCP restoration from the original camera negative by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna, in collaboration with RTI-Mediaset and Infinity, as part of Fellini 100. 86 min.
A stunning display of an emerging filmmaker’s artistic vision, Fellini’s solo directorial debut solidly introduced the auteur’s world of fantasies, which he would continue to explore—and take to new heights—in subsequent years. Two newlyweds from the provinces arrive in Rome for a family visit, but the young bride finds herself gleefully running after her ultimate romantic hero, the star of a fotoromanzo (photographed comic book), played by comic icon Alberto Sordi (Fellini’s I Vitelloni, Risi’s Una Vita Difficile, etc.). This dreamy work features the director’s first collaboration with the iconic composer Nino Rota and a brief appearance by Giulietta Masina as a prostitute named Cabiria, a character who would later take center stage in Fellini’s 1957 Nights of Cabiria. “As hilarious as any Italian farce ever made” (Vincent Canby)