When a young woman of beauty and talent joins a provincial vaudeville troupe, they’re suddenly playing to packed houses, and their aging comic Checco Dalmonte gets big ideas. He falls in love with the ingenue, Liliana, and ignores his companion of several years, Melina Amour. (She wants to marry Checco and she’s saving to open a deli.) Also, believing he can be an impresario, he hires other actors and begins rehearsal for a revue that will star Liliana and himself. Liliana admires Checco, but she’s being squired around town by Adelmo Conti, the assistant to the region’s biggest impresario. Can Checco’s new troupe hold onto Liliana, and how will Melina fare?
User Reviews: Variety Lights is Fellini’s debut film. The film consists of ideas and motifs that would succeedingly appear in movies like 8 1/2 and The Clowns. However, these traits are still undeveloped but we can see how they would be used as personal metaphors for the director. Running under an hour, the film is shown in black and white with legible subtitles and moving at a smooth pace. The story follows a variety show troupe and an female audience member who is so inspired by one of their performances that she asks to join their group. We are then presented with the rise of the performer’s act and how mistakes like having her dress fall off soon attracts the attention of the audience. Soon the variety show begins displaying a more racy repertory all which is fronted by sexy novice. Some images in the film like large behinds and women in bikinis may have been provocative for its time in America –although Italy’s standards tended to be more shocking. Nevertheless, as discussed in the documentary Rated X, Fellini’s movies was generally restricted to Adult theaters due to subject matter, although much more provocation was soon to come. Variety Lights features Masina, Fellini’s wife, in a supporting role as a dancer with few scenes, although she still gives a good performance nevertheless. Masina would soon gather more attention to her acting in succeeding Fellini films like Night of Cabaria and La Strata. However, the focus of this film is directed at De Filippo for his role as the impresario and Poggio as the desperate actress. Veriety Lights is not the best Fellini production but still worth a look.