Bidone, Il (1955)

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Released 17-Jun-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Trailer-I Vitelloni
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 108:03 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Federico Fellini
Studio
Distributor
Titanus
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Broderick Crawford
Giulietta Masina
Richard Basehart
Franco Fabrizi
Sue Ellen Blake
Irene Cefaro
Alberto De Amicis
Lorella De Luca
Giacomo Gabrielli
Riccardo Garrone
Paul Grenter
Emilio Manfredi
Lucetta Muratori
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Nino Rota


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Augusto (Broderick Crawford) is an ageing con man, part of a group who fleece the poor out of their life savings by posing as priests. His colleagues include Picasso (Richard Basehart), whom Augusto sees as a younger version of himself, and Roberto (Franco Fabrizi), who can't help but steal and cheat. A chance meeting with his daughter (presumably living with his ex-wife) makes Augusto suddenly feel that his life has not amounted to much, and he decides to change matters.

   Il Bidone translates as The Swindle. This is a film by Federico Fellini, though if the credits had said Regia di Mario Monicelli or Luigi Comencini or Alberto Lattuada it would not have surprised me. The movie is not typical Fellini by any means, being essentially a genre film with an eye to the international market as it must have appeared to the producers in 1955. The presence of two American stars may remind one of La Strada, but that is where the similarity ends, because while this is a competently made and mildly entertaining film, it rarely bears the distinctive stamp of its director.

    There is a very well directed party sequence that is perhaps the only distinctive sequence in the film. One can also detect Fellini's influence in the fact that the con men pose as the clergy, and even though they appear to the viewer to be unlikely priests their victims seem to see nothing unusual in their actions. However, the director is usually more subtle than this.

    Broderick Crawford was a wasted talent. He could do tortured, self-loathing or ruthless characters very well, but rarely was given the opportunity (apart from his turn as a Huey Long type in All the King's Men, which won him an Academy Award). Il Bidone gives him a few chances to shine, and he comes across as the strongest character in it. Basehart has little to work with, but he has much more than Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina, who has a thankless and marginal role as Picasso's wife Iris.

    While this is not top drawer Fellini, it is a pretty good film by the general standards of mid-1950s Italian cinema, and is worth seeing at least once. Perhaps a rental would be more appropriate than a purchase though. The good news is that this DVD contains the longer Italian cut, the American release running some 17 minutes shorter. The running time on the case is incorrect, so do not be put off by that, nor by the terrible cover art.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1.

    This is a very good transfer, from what appears to be a restored or newly struck print. There are very few film artefacts apart from the ubiquitous white flecks, and the level of detail is excellent. The transfer is sharp and clear and has excellent contrast. The black and white cinematography is well rendered.

    There is some minor aliasing at times, for example on Augusto's clerical collar, and the suit that he wears in the last ten minutes of the film shows some moire. Film grain is kept to a minimum. There is some low level noise in some of the darker sequences, though shadow detail is good.

    Optional English subtitles are provided in yellow font. They are well timed, but include Americanisms and several spelling mistakes, such as "dady", "emminence" (this one appears three times) and "mayby".

    The disc is single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    This is a good audio track for a mono film. There is a slight amount of hiss and distortion but nothing significant. Dialogue is clear and very easy to understand (well, if you speak Italian it probably is). The film was shot silent and post-synched by voice actors, and while audio sync is poor as a result the voices used generally fit the characters. I saw this film many years ago in 16mm with an English language soundtrack and with Crawford and Basehart dubbing their own voices (if I recall correctly). Somehow the Italian dub seems more authentic.

    The music score is by - guess who? Yes, it is Nino Rota again. While the score does not rise to any great heights it is pleasant enough and some of it is recognisable thanks to the use of it by SBS for programme intros.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Audio is from the film.

Trailer-I Vitelloni (3:35)

    A trailer for another Fellini film in current release from Umbrella.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Judging by the one review I have seen of the US Region 1 release, the quality of the material used for the Region 4 is superior. There is a UK Region 2 release slated for release on August 29, 2005. This will probably be of the same quality as the Region 4. At present, the Region 4 is the recommended release.

Summary

    A lesser film by Fellini, worth seeing but do not expect a masterpiece.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    No substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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