I Vitelloni

The sophomore film from Federico Fellini comes to Blu-ray, and it's a must-have for fans of this master filmmaker

Film Review by Barry Didcock | 06 Sep 2018
Film title: I Vitelloni
Director: Federico Fellini
Starring: Franco Interlenghi, Franco Fabrizi, Leonora Ruffo, Alberto Sordi, Leopoldo Trieste and Riccardo Fellini
Release date: 27 Aug
Certificate: PG

Fellini’s second film as writer-director and the first to win international acclaim, 1953’s I Vitelloni tells the story of five young layabouts in an unnamed seaside town and sees the Italian mining the same Neorealist-style seam that would produce La Strada and Nights Of Cabiria later in the decade. But it’s notable for also giving the first sight of the themes that would come to define his later masterpieces, such as La Dolce Vita, and Amarcord – namely Fellini’s use of his own life story for material (the Italian filmmaker grew in the coastal resort of Rimini), his love of theatres, actors and clowns, his psychological probing of his characters’ inner lives and, perhaps most of all, his zest for the riot, movement and chaos of Italian life. It’s also notable for being a powerful influence on Martin Scorsese, whose 1973 film Mean Streets owes it a debt.

I Vitelloni is sometimes translated as The Bullocks, though The Young Calves is also used and is actually a more appropriate title. The five amigos – Moraldo (Interlenghi), Fausto (Fabrizi), Leopold (Trieste), Alberto (Sordi) and Riccardo (Fellini, the director’s younger brother) – are young men still reliant on their mothers and easily dominated by their fathers. In one scene, the feckless and philandering Fausto feels the end of his father’s belt. For the others, it’s parental tongues that do the lashing.

We first meet them at the town beauty contest, which is won by Moraldo’s sister Sandra (Ruffo). She’s also Fausto’s girlfriend, though he’s busy chatting up someone else at the time. When Sandra announces she’s pregnant, a shotgun wedding is arranged and as the world of adult responsibility begins to intrude, the five friends find their loafing days are numbered. Sixty-five years old now, I Vitelloni still feels fresh.


There’s an informative, though short, video essay from Fellini expert Guido Bonsaver.

Released by Cult Films