Nights of Cabiria

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Nights of Cabiria, referred to by Pauline Kael as “perhaps Fellini’s finest film,” tells the haunting tale of a naïve prostitute named Cabiria who endures life’s tragedies with a heartbreaking, almost Chaplin-esque innocence and resilience. Following her triumphant turn in La Strada, Giulietta Masina once again brought a magical Fellini creation to thrilling life as the downtrodden, but ever optimistic, streetwalker Maria ‘Cabiria’ Ceccarelli, searching for love in the seediest sections of Rome, but finding only heartache, courtesy of a succession of selfish men. A transitional film in the Fellini canon, bridging the neorealist grit of his earliest films with the visual abandon of his La Dolce Vita-era films, Nights of Cabiria also amply displayed the director’s fascination with the seamier side of Roman nightlife, as he based the character of Cabiria in part on a real prostitute whom he had met while filming Il Bido. Later to serve as inspiration for the hit 1966 Broadway musical Sweet Charity and the 1969 film version starring Shirley MacLaine, Nights of Cabiria not only scored Giulietta Masina a Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, it also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. (Dir. Federico Fellini, 1957, Italy, in Italian with subtitles, 110 mins., Not Rated) Digital