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Ginger And Fred
cast: Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni, and Franco Fabrizi

director: Federico Fellini

122 minutes (15) 1986
Infinity Arthouse DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by J.C. Hartley
Highly rated because I'm a big fan of Fellini, and I admire good filmmaking for the attention to detail and great performances even in little stories.

Amelia (Giulietta Masina) and Pippo (Marcello Mastroianni) danced in the 1940s as their idols Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers before splitting up. They are brought together for a TV variety show that, like celebrity-driven glossy gossip magazines in the UK, combines true-life confessions, look-alikes, heart-warming stories of compassion and endurance and a parade of freaks.

The film represents an attack on Italian TV, generally regarded as the worst in the world, and a particular bete noir for Fellini through his campaign to prevent commercial breaks during the showing of movies. Amelia arrives in a Rome where heaps of uncollected refuse are piled up at the sides of the road, the characters move through a desolate hinterland interrupted by the hotel where they spend the evening, and the even more vulgar television centre. Amelia and Pippo are reunited and Amelia discovers that after the break up of their act Pippo's life has gone downhill with problems of excessive drinking and a mental breakdown.

The film is really a showcase for the crass awfulness of television, through which Ginger and Fred's act shines as a little bit of magic from a forgotten age. A slight story but one raised by the assured and charming playing of the leads, and one in which sentimentality never intrudes to provide an unfeasibly happy ending.

In the DVD extras, La Felliniana, the sequence of filmed documentaries about Fellini's life and career (chapters one to five are part of the Orchestra Rehearsal DVD), concludes with the final show in which friends and collaborators choose their favourite scenes from his movies, and silence about the latter stages of his life and legacy; in the other presentation Fellini's acting alter-ego, Mastroianni recalls his own career.

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