Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) 1957

Today's film is Nights of Cabiria.  It's from Italy and it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture in 1957.  I enjoyed watching it.  I'm not saying it reminded me of The Jerry Springer Show, but it was scripted, very dramatic yet humorous, and featured hookers fighting.

Before I watched this, I thought, "What is a Cabiria? Is it a place?"  Then I found out that Cabiria is a person, but is she a good person?  We first see her running and laughing with her boyfriend, then he pushes her in the river and runs off with her purse.  She is rescued by some well meaning people, but when she comes to, she snaps at them and is very rude.  She goes home to see if her boyfriend is there, but it's obvious he's gone.  She is even rude to her friend, Wanda.  She has no right to be so nasty to people who are trying to help her.

Cabiria works the streets as a prostitute and we find out that she's rude because she's guarded.  When she lets her guard down, she's a decent person.  By chance, she goes home with the famous actor Alfredo, but has to leave when his whiny dramatic girlfriend returns.  Later, she sees a man giving food to poor homeless people in caves.  Inspired by him, she prays for a better life.

Cabiria goes to a hypnotist show, but doesn't want to volunteer because she doesn't want to make a fool of herself.  She is egged on by the crowd and goes on stage.  Under the hypnosis spell, she pretends to go on a date with an imaginary man named Oscar.  She says she is rich and wants to be married.  She is furious when she finds out what happened and leaves.  Outside, a man who says his name is Oscar asks to go out with her.  She is suspicious but does go out with him.  She falls in love with him and sells her house in the bad  neighborhood to a family full of kids, who need a big house more than she does.  She is ashamed of her profession and doesn't want him to find out.

Oscar (I'm not sure that's his real name) and Cabiria go for a walk, and when they reach a cliff overlooking the water, Oscar acts nervous.  Cabiria realizes what he's going to do, he's going to push her and steal her purse like her last boyfriend.  She runs away heartbroken.  As she walks towards the town, a parade of happy people walk with her.  She smiles, and I hope she gets swimming lessons before she dates again.

I liked this movie.  Giulietta Masina and Franca Marzi did a great job as Cabiria and Wanda.  Even though Cabiria was rude in the beginning, by the end we cheer for her.  I will give this film a 9/10.


  1. As much as Fellini gets praised several of his bigger films didn't do much for me. I didn't dislike them, but I wouldn't ever watch them again, either. The exception to this is Nights of Cabiria. This is my favorite Fellini film and it's all because of the performance of Massina.

    1. I haven't seen too many of his films, but this one was one of the best.