As a philandering journalist and PR rep, Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni – 8½, Marriage Italian Style) certainly enjoys the good life. It’s the early years of gossip columns and paparazzi as the rich and famous enjoy (mostly) the limelight.
Whether it’s affairs with Swedish/American actress Sylvia (Anita Ekberg – Blood Alley, War & Peace) or wealthy heiress Maddalena (Anouk Aimee – 8½, Lola), it all seems aimless and empty: Rubini is a writer with no meaning.
Full of iconic scenes (Ekberg and Mastroianni in the Trevi fountain; the Christ statue carried by helicopter across Rome), director Federico Fellini (8½, Amarcord), at more than three hours, over indulges. Commentary is mundane and repititious. It’s seductive in its black and white majesty but Mastroianni ultimately grates – the hollow man of a charming seducer. Fellini’s point may well be just this – but it’s all style over substance.
Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1962 including best director & art direction, won 1 for best black & white costume design (Piero Gherardi).