Archive for Nights of Cabiria


Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , on February 25, 2013 by dcairns


Oscar (Francois Perier) in NIGHTS OF CABIRIA.

“A vaguely funereal fashion parade, a ceremony in many ways like a carnival, but at the same time a moving and pathetic spectacle, organized with the fullest awareness of what it was and is. Notwithstanding the clamour it excites, it is a private ceremony; it’s cinema encountering itself in an attempt to resuscitate the dead, to exorcise wrinkles, old age, illness and death. It has the same fascination as caricature; it is a caricature of the Day of Judgement, the Resurrection of the Flesh. Those like me who accept the mythology of the cinema cannot refuse a prize like the Oscar. To dispute the award seems to me ridiculous and childish. The cinema is about circus, carnival, funfair, a game for acrobats.”

~ Fellini on Fellini, edited by Costanzo Constantini.

Nights Of Cabiria [DVD] [1957]
Fellini On Fellini


Chigurh Happy?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2008 by dcairns

Fellini used to say that he still worried about Cabiria, the prostitute heroine of LA NOTTE DI CABIRIA, and wondered what she was up to, long after he made the film, as if she had some independent existence.

Itchy Chigurh finger

I feel the same about Anton Chigurh. 

(Spoiler alert.)

Oh, I know the Coen brothers did their best to suggest at the end of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN that Anton would be fine, allowing him to walk off into the sunset as it were, and even taking care to establish the fact that Tommy Lee Jones has retired and is no longer hunting for him. But still I worry!

Chigurh, after all, is someone who kills whenever his car runs out of gas, simply to get a ride. Is there really a place for him in this wicked world? It would be terrible to think that Chigurh, “the one completely blameless individual in this whole situation,” to quote George Macready in PATHS OF GLORY, might face an uncertain future after wiping stray bits of Kelly MacDonald off his boots and setting forth in his nice new shirt.

I know he’s in all our thoughts and prayers.

A Chiguhr Tale 

Euphoria #17: It’s showtime, folks.

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2008 by dcairns

Fiona’s got a nasty ‘flu’, so I’m attempting to restore her spirits with another of those movie scenes that infuses you with optimism, like steam inhalation for the soul. 

Pure frug-ing euphoria from Bob Fosse’s SWEET CHARITY, his remake of Fellini’s NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, book by Neil Simon. A modest floor-show in the Fellini, visible for just a few seconds, is here inflated into a gigantic number with Suzanne Charney (and Ben Vereen!) This is the second euphoric clip in two days where a woman makes remarkable shapes with her body. S.C. is utterly incredible. Women want to be her. Men want to be on her. 

Neil Simon and Bob Fosse were great friends and contemporaries: Fosse was only two days older than Simon. He used to say, “During those two days when I was on this earth and you weren’t… I had more girls than you will have in the entire rest of your life.”

Another writer friend was Paddy Chayefsky (NETWORK, ALTERED STATES). When Fosse was about to go in for open-heart surgery he asked Paddy to sign his will as a witness. Chayefksy asked to read it.

‘Well, that’s not really nec-‘

‘I don’t sign anything I don’t read,’ snapped Chayefsky.

He scanned the document, then: ‘Well, this all seems — I say “SEEMS”, mind you — to be in order. But I don’t see my name anywhere.’

‘Well, that’s true. I mean, you know I love you like a brother and everything, Paddy, but you’re not actually a beneficiary.’

Chayefsky throws the will back at his sick friend. ‘Screw you then — LIVE!’

Hospital hallucination, take 1

Fosse’s surgery is gorily recreated in ALL THAT JAZZ, his penultimate film. He gives himself the best lines in that one. To first wife: ‘If I don’t make it, I’m sorry for all the things I did to you.’ To new girlfriend: ‘And if I DO make it, I’m sorry for all the things I’m GONNA do to YOU.’


Style note: Fosse cuts rather a lot for a choreographer/director. His editing is very stylish and rhythmic, but sometimes it takes over from the dancers, makes it impossible for us to follow the WHOLE SCENE. True, it’s a cinematic effect instead of a theatrical one, but when the dancing is this good, sometimes simplicity might be better? My main reason for fretting over this is the horrible state of filmed dance in the mainstream media today.

In CHICAGO we get a modern director imitating Fosse’s approach, but with many more cuts, the MTV tradition. The dance becomes totally incoherent, and what people remember is the editing: “Wasn’t the editing great?” Well, no. It wasn’t.


I still love Fosse though. Like a lot of theatre directors, he embraced the unique qualities of film with insane enthusiasm. His films are all about montage, juxtaposition, cross-cutting different kinds of fictional reality, performance and life clashing head-on.

If I ran a series of clips of Cinema That Makes You Want to Gnaw Your Own Brain Off, Fosse’s skin-crawling work with Eric Roberts in STAR 80 would have to be Clip One. Amazing stuff.

Footnote: just watched this again and don’t find it at all over-edited. Maybe there’s too much cutting in other sequences, but not here.