Thursday, 13 November 2014

Il Bidone (The Swindle) [1955]

Il Bidone formed the middle segment in Fellini’s ‘Trilogy of Loneliness’, both in terms of chronological placement and darkness quotient. La Strada was incessantly grim and harrowing, while Nights of Cabiria, despite its melancholic air, had an underlying sense of heartwarming optimism. Though it ended on an intensely lonely and bitter note that was completely bereft of any chances of personal redemption, it had its share of lighter moments and humour which wryly commented on the larger societal tragedy that it contextualized. The plot followed the exploits of a group of scamsters who swindle the gullible, ignorant and poor – their cunning ploys, in a sly and acerbic nod to cold corporations that build their wealth through cynical and opportunistic exploitation of the oppressed masses, involve giving hope to the have-nots while milking out what little they do have. The group is led by the middle-aged career conman Augusto (Broderick Crawford), and comprises of the naïve Carlo (Richard Basehart) and the brash Roberto (Franco Fabrizi). The film’s first half devoted time on the group’s inner dynamics and Carlo’s poignant relationship with his loving wife (Giulietta Masina in a smaller role vis-à-vis the two films sandwiching it) who suspects his shady involvements; the second half, however, focused solely on Augusto’s lonely and heartbreaking existence, his palpable weariness, his futile attempts at rekindling his bond with his daughter and the debilitating comeuppance in store for him. Crawford gave a fabulous, poignant and profoundly affecting turn that memorably complemented the film’s somber tone and richly humanistic theme. A party sequence, littered with decadent, hedonistic and vacuous rich folks, provided a terrific peak into the distinctively Felliniesque world exemplified by La Dolce Vita.

Director: Federico Fellini
Genre: Drama/Crime Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: Italian
Country: Italy

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