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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ginger and Fred

         Buffy Andrews at Buffy's Write Zone had posted a piece about her favorite Christmas movie and I liked the idea so much I thought I might review mine as well.  I left my comment on her site but am going to expand upon on mine further.  Buffy's favorite is  It’s a Wonderful Life  directed by Frank Capra and released in 1946.  I'm sure that's one of everyone's favorites.  I'm going to go for a less obvious and more obscure choice.

           A new favorite for me by one of my all time favorite directors, Federico Fellini, is GINGER AND FRED (1986). This is a brilliant and poignant satirical look at television. An aging Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers look-alike dance duo is reunited after 30 years for a Christmas Eve marathon television show. The movie is bizarrely surrealistic as is most Fellini but wonderfully visual. The story touches upon the shallowness of modern television and the mass audience and also of aging and relationships. In Italian with subtitles, but I found it to be very rewarding when I watched it this past summer. I bought a copy and hope to watch it again for this Christmas season although it's a good movie for any season.

        I loved this movie --- it ranks with Fellini's best as far as I'm concerned. But the caveat here is that most movie viewers probably don't have the patience for Fellini's vision in this film or most of the body of his work. The story here is simple enough. It's a sweet story that could have been done by any other straight-forward director as a serious drama, a comedy, or even a musical. But why do it that way when you can make it a wacked out surrealistic dream vision of a film complete with midgets, transvestites, beautiful people, and the whole gamut of individuals that make the world the wonderfully various place it is. The vision concerns the decay of the modern world and the modern mind, alienation as brought to you by television, and the wistful longing for a past that is gone and perhaps was really never how we envision it now. The layers of the film's cinematography, dialogue as pertains to the story, absurdist antidialogue, sets and costuming, and every other aspect makes the film call for repeated watching. The acting is superb. The music is typically whimsical and lovely as any Fellini film.

         GINGER AND FRED  ranks high on my list of favorite films. But as I have warned, if your movies have to have action and traditional storylines then you may not appreciate this one, especially since it's in Italian with subtitles. But if you think you would enjoy watching a story presented in a manner akin to watching a dream (not a nightmare) full of strange visuals and off the wall ideas and dialogue then I would encourage you to give this a chance--it is an artistic coup.  I would compare Fellini's film to those of David Lynch except without the perversion, violence, and darkness. Fellini is more like Lynch at the circus. Before there was David Lynch, there was Fellini.

Actors: Giulietta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni, Franco Fabrizi, Friedrich von Ledebur, Augusto Poderosi
Director: Federico Fellini
Language: Italian
Subtitles: English
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Run Time: 127 minutes

         How about you?  What's your favorite Christmas film?


  1. Another Christmas movie I haven't seen. I love them all and don't have a favorite OR I have 20 favorites whichever way you want to look at it.

  2. My favs are A Christmas Story and Home Alone.


  3. That is a movie, that has slipped past my radar. But I'll try to find it and watch it next week (when I'm not writing.)

    Favorite movie? Miracle on 34th Street.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. You'll be missed while you're away.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation, rLEE-b. I just added "Ginger And Fred" to my Netflix list. Probably won't get to it for quite some time, but now I won't forget about it.

    I love "Miracle on 34th Street" and "A Christmas Story", too. But my top two choices would have to be either "It's A Wonderful Life" or "Scrooge", depending upon which one I'm watching at the time.

    Sadly, "Scrooge" is not so well known by American audiences but it is a masterpiece and, in my opinion, far and away the best version of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' ever put on film. It's a - [Gasp!] - MUSICAL, from 1970 starring Albert Finney and a superb English cast. It contains plenty of humor and some great songs and music. And when I, me, Stephen T. McCarthy likes a musical, you'd better know that it has to be something special. This is one Christmas movie I would urge EVERYONE to see!

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McME

  5. Arlee, I've seen all of them SO many times that I prefer attending a premiere over the holiday season.

    Sigh. If I had to pick one, it would be Miracle on 34th Street.

    Love The Big Apple--any era, any time.

    Patti Lacy

  6. Very well done...


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  7. Just remember that I warned you that you might think it is weird. And it's not a Christmas movie in the traditional sense that we picture, it is a movie that takes place at Christmas.

    I'll have to check out Scrooge as I don't think I've seen it. The original "Miracle on 34th Street" is definitely a classic. I was pleasantly surprised with the remake even though some critic panned it -- the God aspect was pretty cool in the remake as I recall though it's been a while since I've seen it.

    You might be thinking "I thought this guy was leaving already!" Okay, okay-- I'm not leaving til tomorrow night, so I might get in a few more comment between now and then. After all I may be going thru blog withdrawel for a couple a weeks unless I can get online every now and then.

  8. Another Fred and Ginger I think of are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I love to watch them on YouTube. No crotch grabbing, just good ol' fashioned dancing that's hard to duplicate by anyone.

    Stephen Tremp


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