Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957) isn’t one of the filmmaker’s best known works—probably because the film is something of a transitional piece. It might be seen as the bridge from the filmmaker’s neo-realist beginnings to the more fanciful, mature Fellini that would be promised by La Dolce Vita (1960) and arrive fully formed with 8 1/2 (1963). That, however, doesn’t mean that Nights of Cabiria is without its own qualities and merits. Its heroine, Cabiria (Giulietta Masina in a performance based on Chaplin) is a waif-like prostitute. She’s naive—insisting on believing in the possibility of love and redemption (something that can also be said of Chaplin’s Little Tramp)—but she’s not sentimentalized in the typical Hollywood manner. It is definitely a Fellini film that ought to be better known than it is.
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