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GINGER AND FRED (director/writer: Federico Fellini; screenwriters: Tonino Guerra/Tullio Pinelli; cinematographers: Tonino Delli Colli/Ennio Guarnieri; editor: Nino Baragli; music: Nicola Piovani; cast: Giulietta Masina (Amelia/Ginger), Marcello Mastroianni (Pippo/Fred), Franco Fabrizi (show host), Frederick Ledebur (Admiral), Augusto Poderosi (transvestite), Martin Maria Blau (producer’s assistant), Toto Mignone (Toto), Jacques Henri Lartigue (Flying Priest); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Heinz Bibo/Alberto Grimaldi; MGM/UA Home Video; 1986-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
“It’s one of Fellini’s more accessible and warmer films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Federico Fellini (“La Strada”/”The White Sheik”/”Variety Lights”) is cowriter and director of this sweet heartwarming satire that is meant as a homage to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (evidently Ginger didn’t think it was a complimentary film, as she sued the filmmakers for deformation of character). It’s one of Fellini’s last films and he aims his poison darts at television as a wasteland. It’s shot in Fellini’s usual rich visual style with splashes of loud colors, depictions of outrageous cartoonish sensuality, some startling Felliniesque moments and a number of strange sights–such as a dead pig that’s lit up with fairy lights.

Before the war (in the late 1930s) Amelia (Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s real-life wife) and Pippo (Marcello Mastroianni) had a nightclub act as a homage to the Hollywood duo of Ginger and Fred. Ginger has been retired from showbiz some twenty odd years and has not seen her dance partner for ages. They both return separately to a decaying and vulgarized Rome during Christmas time at the invite of a popular TV program, ”We Are Proud to Present,” to reprise their ballroom dance act.

Filled with Fellini’s usual sideshow of freaks, this one has its celebrity lookalikes, transvestites, midgets and misfits. But it also has a warmth for old time entertainers and nostalgia for the good ole days. Fellini takes out his dagger to dig it into crass TV for its commercialism and phoniness. The reunited aged couple are delightful and for a few brief moments their former youthful magic returns when they dance again their “Cheek to Cheek” number. It’s one of Fellini’s more accessible and warmer films, but like most of his films it lacks substance.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”