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In Fellini's sardonically humorous, yet powerfully dramatic IL BIDONE, three small-time crooks impersonate priests in Rome to con poor people out of their money. Academy Award winner Broderick Crawford is extraordinary as the group's world weary leader, whose chance meeting with his daughter opens his eyes to his wrongdoing. Too late, he suffers a crisis of conscience in this absorbing tale of hope, desperation and, finally, redemption. One of Fellini's most realistic films, IL BIDONE begins as an Italian comedy of errors, its swindles reminiscent of The Sting, yet there is true sting in its harsh portrayal of greed and squalor. The middle chapter in Fellini's "trilogy of loneliness" between La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, this classic film will tug at your heart and astonish you with its aching sense of compassion. Music by Nino Rota (The Godfather, Rocco and His Brothers).
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 3.5 Ounces
- Director : Federico Fellini
- Media Format : NTSC
- Run time : 1 hour and 32 minutes
- Release date : March 2, 2012
- Actors : Broderick Crawford, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Franco Fabrizi, Irene Cefaro
- Dubbed: : Italian
- Producers : Mario Derecchi
- Language : Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1)
- Studio : IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
- ASIN : 6305908486
- Writers : Ennio Flaiano, Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #239,937 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I recently revisted Il Bidone (The Swindle) and was mesmerized by it's restrained style, story, and acting. I had forgotten how Fellini had somehow managed to get a superb performance out of Broderick Crawford (who's raging alcoholism in real life caused Fellini to have to make script changes during it's filming -changes Fellini later believed helped the over-all film).
The film begins by introducing us to it's main trio of con men. They perform a masterful swindle where they dress up as priests, to swindle hardworking peasants and farmers. I won't spoil the mechanics of the con, since it's fascinating to watch it unfold and ponder how it will work.
We meet the three con men who work for 'The Baron Vargas'. Carlo ( nicknamed Picasso) played by a very youthful Richard Basehart, is a frustrated painter who cons to support his family and loves his wife deeply. Roberto (Franco Fabrizzi)is a devil-may-care hedonist who's addicted to the fast life-style but believes he will somehow leave it behind before he winds up like. . . Augusto. At 48, Augusto (Broderick Crawford) is constantly reminded of his age, how lonely the life of a con man truly is and how the life is taking its toll on him. He feels trapped by the con life and much older than his 48 years. A chance meeting with his estranged daughter re-awakens the love and compassion he has within him and allows him to re-capture the spark and energy of his former self as it gives him an unselfish goal and purpose he can care about.
It's a remarkable transition, not just within the character Augusto, but for the film itself. Augusto is re-discovering the love and compassion which is inside even a burnt out con man, like he imagines he truly is. But the film is not one to give in to sentimentality or false hope or manipulations. It's a tragic film. Augusto does not suddenly change into a different human being. He knows what he is and to leave it completely behind would be to sacrifice part of himself for someone else. He is too selfish for that and too set in his ways. It forces him through a series of complication to work with con-men who are not ones that look up to him or respect him, but scavengers who can not be trusted. And it will prove his undoing.
Fellini plants the seed early that Augusto is not having fun putting one over on the peasants and farmers and gas station attendants that he once must have. He is burnt-out. He has started to think too much about how the money they con out of these people will hurt them. It's as dull a job to Augusto as any other, except that it pays far better than most jobs and is all that Augusto knows. He is trapped in a prison and has begun to realize it, all too clearly. This life is a lonely one and loneliness is a prison as confining as the one that comes with bars. If one does choose a lonely life, one can not have compassion or guilt.
In contrast we see Roberto getting a positive adrenaline rush from pulling off a con successfully. It's the drug that makes him high. He still enjoys the life. He still pursues the fast women, enjoys the night life, and wants to have as much fun as he can. . He believes once it stops being fun he will stop before he becomes old and stuck in the lonely life like Augusto is. But later we will see how addicted Roberto has become to his rush and we know he is a more reckless, younger version of Augusto and is doomed.
Carlo is a lot like Augusto. He's eager to learn everything he can from Augusto. He is more careful, more disciplined and wants to learn the skills to become a better con man. He is relieved when he has performed his role in a con successfully and he is eager to show his wife the money he has made which will help them pay off their debts. But Augusto knows balancing a normal life with a con life is not possible. He has tried it. He will teach Carlo, he will guide Carlo. Carlo will be Augusto's clay, and Augusto will mold him into a better con artist than he ever was.
Broderick Crawford gives a complete performance. He's dubbed into Italian so it's a performance minus his distinctive voice. Since Crawford's latter performance line readings tend to be spit out and sometimes garbled, and since he usually waddled through his performances without much nuance, it's interesting to see his full range on display six years after he won an Academy Award for All the King's Men.
Guilietta Masina (Mrs. F. Fellini) as Iris, Carlo's wife is not required to do all that much, but appear as a devoted wife. At a party scene we see Iris start to relax and have fun, and later see her egister some genuine concern for her husband as he tries to get an opinion/approval on one of his paintings. Hers is an expressive face which Fellini used in several of his films. She was best in La Strada, Nights of Cabiria and Ginger and Fred. Il Bidone (aka The Swindle - 1955) was written by Fellini , Tulio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. It's a film that pre-dates Bresson's Pickpocket(`59). It's a gem.
Chris Jarmick, Author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder Available End of January 2001.
Top reviews from other countries
As was often Fellini’s wont, we again get Hollywood 'stars’ in prominent roles, Crawford and (as in La Strada) Richard Basehart, here as Augusto’s fellow con-man and family man, Picasso, married to Giulietta Masina’s Iris. (The requirement to dub Crawford and Basehart’s voices mimicking the common Italian practise of dubbing all actors, Italians included). Masina (Mrs Fellini) has a much lesser (screen time-wise) role here than in either La Strada or Nights, but her character, as the wife kept in the dark about her husband’s 'profession’, is key to the film’s central moral conflict of the need to engage in criminality to escape poverty. The film-maker again uses children (and youth) throughout as a sobering corrective for the adults’ misdemeanours here, first as Iris’ daughter sees through her father’s ruse ('I don’t believe him’) and then as Augusto is, unexpectedly, reunited with his estranged, student daughter Lorella de Luca’s Patrizia, in a key scene causing the con-man to doubt his hand-to-mouth, nefarious lifestyle. Within the film’s essentially episodic narrative there are a number of standout scenes, including the opening con in which Augusto and gang assume ‘papal robes’ to trick a peasant family out of their life savings (calling to my mind The Ladykillers of all things!) and then as Augusto, Picasso and Iris are humiliated by the status-conscious party-goers at the luxurious house of Alberto De Amicis’ Rinaldo, a previous 'acquaintance’ of Augusto, now made good (the scene serving to belittle Augusto’s status as career criminal).
Acting-wise, Fellini’s cast is consistently strong, Basehart, Masina and (the third member of Augusto’s gang) Franco Fabrizi’s cocky, ladies’ man, Roberto all impressing. But it is on Crawford’s shoulders that the film’s emotional punch depends and the actor does a (perhaps surprisingly) great job as the grizzled, world-weary 'low-life’, keeping us guessing right to the film’s powerful denouement as to the extent of Augusto’s potential redemption.
As might be expected, The Masters of Cinema dual format package provides a superb reproduction, as well as a very interesting, 40-minute interview with Il Bidone’s assistant director Dominque Delouche and a 48-page booklet on the film.
It was interesting though to see Richard Basehart play a fool. Broderick Crawford fans will be disappointed. His character is too one dimensional for him to show the acting strenght he portrayed opposite Judy Holliday in 'Born Yesterday'.