White Sheik, The

1828. THE WHITE SHEIK (1951-ITALY). WITH alberto sordi, brunella bovo, leopoldo TRIESTE, GIUUETTA MASINA. Direcled by FEDERICO FELLINI. Based on a story by MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI. Every week in Italy, mill ions eagerly await the publication Of fumetti: magazines which tell highly escapist, romantic tales in comic-book style, but with photographs in place Of cartoons. Between the covers Of the fumetti exists an enticing fantasy world completely divorced from reality. However, to those who avidly devour the fumetti, this world seems realistic and believable because it’s depicted in photographs. The fumetti and its popularity, particularly among the Italian lower classes, is the subject Of this sharp, knowing, very funny farce which is the great Federico Fellini’s first solo directing assignment. Alberto Sordi, one Of Italy’s most beloved screen farceurs, is cast in the title role: a two-bit actor and egomaniacal Romeo whose appearances in the fumetti have made him a pop culture hero. Brunella Bovo and Leopoldo Trieste play a honeymooning couple who arrive in Rome; the scenario follows what happens when the bride manages to spend snore time with the White Sheik, who is her romantic ideal, than with’ the man she’s just married. The film is a keenly observed satire Of the illusion Of wedded bliss, and the manner in which popular culture has a stranglehold on the masses. Also, look for Fellini’s wife and frequent leading actress, Giulietta Masina, in a small but key role as a friendly prostitute named Cabiria. In Italian with English subtitles. 86 minutes. Comedy