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Film / I Vitelloni

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I Vitelloni is a 1953 film directed by Federico Fellini.

It involves five slackers living in a small town on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and their supposedly carefree lives. One of them, Fausto, blows this when he gets his girlfriend pregnant and is forced to marry her. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to seduce other women, though.

Fausto's friends try to be supportive while keeping their lifestyles: Alberto is supported by his mother and sister, Leopoldo writes a play, Riccardo tries to keep his singing act, and Fausto’s brother-in-law Moraldo tries to get away from it all.

Breakthrough hit for Federico Fellini and his Associated Composer, Nino Rota. It was one of Stanley Kubrick's and Martin Scorsese's favorite movies.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Author Avatar: Moraldo is usually considered to be one for Fellini himself.
  • Betty and Veronica: For Fausto, Sandra is Betty and the woman in the movie theater is Veronica.
  • Broken Pedestal: Leopoldo holds the eccentric actor Sergio in high regard, but is offended when the old man tries to come onto him.
  • Camp Gay: Sergio Natali, the vaudeville performer who makes a pass at Leopoldo.
  • The Casanova: All of them, but Fausto is the most noticeable.
  • Character Development: After spending the whole movie as a dishonest, womanizing ingrate, Fausto finally gets scared straight and grows up a little.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Francesco, Fausto’s father, is furious at his son by the end of the film and whips him with his belt.
  • Heel Realization: When Sandra runs away, Fausto is devastated and finally realizes what a louse he’s been this whole time.
  • Likes Older Women: Fausto becomes attracted to the much older wife of his boss.note 
  • Masquerade Ball: Carnival, although not many people are wearing masks.
  • Monster Clown: Alberto, while drunk, sees some clown faces like this.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Not that obnoxious actually, but Moraldo feels scorn to his brother-in-law because he sees how he cheats on his sister.
  • The One Who Made It Out: All of the five Vitelloni want to get out of town and make it big in the wider world and they keep making plans to escape but most of them stumble and fail to act on their plans. Moraldo is the only one who manages it, and the finale is a poignant montage of him in the train leaving the town intercut with small vignettes showing his friends adjusting to their small time lives, surrendering their dreams and hopes forever.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Sandra runs away from him, the normally happy-go-lucky Fausto becomes dazed and depressed. In this state he runs into the woman he was hitting on at the movie theater earlier, who now takes an interest in him, but the up-till-now philanderer turns her down and seems for the first time to only pine for his wife.
  • Out of Focus: There are five Vitelloni, but Alberto and Riccardo largely disappear in the second half of the film, as the story centers on Fausto and Moraldo, plus Leopoldo to a lesser extent.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Fausto has gotten Sandra pregnant at the start of the movie, and though at first he plans to run away, his father forces him to take responsibility.
  • The Slacker: The five protagonists.
  • Small Town Boredom: Moraldo wants to go out of his little town. He does it at the end.
  • The Smart Guy: Leopoldo is the most intellectual of the five and wants to be a playwright.
  • Untranslated Title: I Vitelloni ("The slabs of veal") was an insulting term for Slackers in the dialect of Fellini's home region of Romagna. The original American release retitled it The Young and the Passionate, but it's gone by the original title since then. Interestingly, this trope also applied for I Vitelloni in most regions of Italy, where they'd never heard that bit of slang before.
  • Zany Scheme: Fausto's plan to steal the statue and sell it to a church.