Being a movie reviewer, I am always exposed to different genres of films that normally, I wouldn't have the patience for. As noted in plenty of my other reviews, I'm not a big fan of westerns, silent, or foreign films. It was with that in mind that I decided to take a chance on Criterion's latest release, Federico Fellini's "The White Sheik."
Ivan Cavalli (Leopoldo Trieste) and his new wife Wanda (Brunella Bovo) are on their honeymoon in Rome. Ivan is very stuffy, and has planned their honeymoon around a rigorous schedule, including plenty of family activities and audiences with the Pope. But wide-eyed Wanda has other ideas, as she takes this honeymoon as an opportunity to search for Fernando Rivoli, star of a photo-strip cartoon called the White Sheik, setting off a "slapstick comedy worthy of Charlie Chaplin" (those are Criterion's words, not mine). The remainder of the movie develops the relationship between Wanda and Rivoli, as well as Ivan's attempts to get his new bride back.
"The White Sheik" was filmed in 1951, and shot entirely in black-and-white (duh). I'll be honest and admit that I'm not really familiar with Federico Fellini's body of work, but I guess there isn't a better place to learn about it than watching his first solo directorial effort. Clocking in at roughly 86 minutes, "The White Sheik" hardly ever drags on. Personally, I'm not a fan of Charlie Chaplain-type slapstick, but somehow it works here (reviewers note: I forgot what it's like to watch a slapstick comedy that isn't filled with fart jokes).
In addition to the interviews, is an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, and an excerpt from Charlotte Chandler's biography "I, Fellini." There's nothing earth-shattering here, but it's a nice bonus to have.