Archive for June 6th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

     Federico Fellini’s beloved “autobiographical” carnival show, in which it’s main character, a successful film maker who escapes into childhood memories and sexual fantasies, only to realize that his own artistic future lies within his own experiences of life, finished first in the nearly two-month 60’s polling at WitD.  The unexpected first-place showing of this supreme classic of world cinema marked the second time a foreign-language film ended up on top, following another Italian film, Vittorio DeSica’s Bicycle Thieves in the 40’s poll.

     While Kevin J. Olson of Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies was the only one of the 42 who cast ballots to place 8 1/2 in the #1 position, many others listed the film as their 2nd, 3rd and 4th choice, allowing it with the weighted tabulation system to outdistance Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal horror film Psycho, Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar.  A total of 11 foreign-language films finished in the Top 25, informing this decade’s auturist leanings.

     Some of cinema’s most unforgettable moments are to be found in Fellini’s masterpiece including the evocation of life in a religious college; the hero’s dream of a harem in which his wives serve his every wish; the fat prostitute dancing on the beach for some young boys; the people at the spa, and the ballet sequence near the end where a gigantic “spaceship ramp” that is intended in the film maker’s latest to transport the survivors of an atomic war to another planet.  The performances by Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale and Sandra Milo remain among the most memorable in the history of the cinema, as is Gianni De Venanzo’s widescreen black and white cinematography, Pierro Gherardi’s art direction and Nino Rota’s score.

     Two films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window and Vertigo, had placed 1 and 2 in the 50’s poll, and the spectacularly-popular director, again came close to the top spot, with the high placement of his 1960 Psycho in the #2 position.

     Four directors placed two films in the Top 25:  Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Ingmar Bergman and Robert Wise (who co-directed West Side Story and directed The Sound of Music alone).  Again, WitD is eternally grateful to Voting Tabulator Extraordinaire Angelo A. D’Arminio Jr. for his exhaustive work in gathering together the ballots.  The 60’s poll was particularly challenging.

Top 25 films (in order; with point totals)

   1  8½  (Fellini)                                            409



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