One of the reasons Fellini was such an amazing film director was he always lived an intensely visual existence. During WWII, he worked as a cartoonist and throughout his film career he constantly returned to sketching as a way to bridge his imagination with the images he put on film.

criterion collection features Marcello Mastroianni features Giulietta Masina
Criterion Collection features Marcello Mastroianni features Giulietta Masina

These are only the major films - not counting the shorts he contributed to:


Luci del varietà (Variety Lights) | 1950

Variety Lights dvd
Criterion Collection features Giulietta Masina

(co-directed with Alberto Lattuada with starring roles for both of their wives)
Fellini begins a lifelong pattern of setting his stories among show business folk. While later he'll create backstage stories of circus sideshows, orchestras, TV and movies, this film shows his fondness for down-and-out vaudeville performers. Also contains the first in a long line of great Fellini scenes taking place on trains.

Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik) | 1952

White Sheik DVD
Criterion Collection features Giulietta Masina

A newlywed woman who falls for her favorite movie actor discovers he's not what he seems. Meanwhile her abandoned husband has his own adventure, including prostitute Cabiria (who will eventually get her own movie). Fellini successfully juggles two separate stories that take place over 24 hours.

I vitelloni | 1953

I Vitelloni dvd
Criterion Collection

The original slackers flick - before Diner and St. Elmo's Fire, this film follows guys stuck in their seaside hometown suffering various indignities (a real job! still living with their folks! a new baby! bad drag and lecherous idols!) In the end, only one will take the train to Rome and start a new life. Fellini's hopes for a sequel manifested itself in scenes from 1972's Roma. Snob appeal: won Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

La strada (The Road) | 1954

La Strada dvd
Criterion Collection features Giulietta Masina

Giulietta shows her talent as the female Charlie Chaplin playing a simple country girl arranged into marrying to a fairly angry circus sideshow strong man. When she finds a more suitable sweetboy soulmate, this road movie ends in bittersweet tragedy. Snob appeal: won Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the (first ever) Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Il bidone (The Swindle) | 1955

Il Bidone dvd
features Giulietta Masina

a sort of film noir crime thriller about the redemption of con artists.

Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) | 1957

Nights of Cabiria dvd
Criterion Collection features Giulietta Masina

Before Pretty Woman convinced the world that even prostitutes can find true love, Fellini's Cabiria, a holy fool living in a shack at the edge of town, had to settle for a quick dance in a posh club, a couple of murder attempts and an eventual zen-type (in a totally Catholic way) bliss. The end of Fellini's neo-realist films (helped by an authentic script doctored by Pier Paolo Pasolini): from here on, it often gets crazy surreal. This is the movie that Broadway and Hollywood remade as Sweet Charity. Snob appeal: won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Giulietta landed Best Actress at Cannes.


La dolce vita | 1960

La Dolce Vita dvd
Criterion Collectionfeatures Marcello Mastroianni

A gossip columnists' journey through the many levels of Italian hell. Rome, after the Americans saved the city from WWII, became a cheap set for Hollywood to set up camp. The inevitable result of Rome's transformation into the world's most decadent playground became the idea for the film. To meld control with authenticity, Fellini recreated an almost exact replica of the via Veneto at Cinecitta Studios. This is the one with Anita Ekberg frolicking in Trevi Fountain, a helicopter flying a huge Jesus statue over the city and a cameraman on a motorbike named Paparazzo coining a new phrase. Snob appeal: won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

‪otto e mezzo (8 1/2) | 1963

8 and a half blu ray
Criterion Collection features Marcello Mastroianni

A surreal film about what happens when a movie director can't find an ending to his surreal film (which the audience never sees - but it appears to involve spaceships). Throw in the fact that he's a serial philanderer who can't control the women in his life (This is the film where Marcello's cracking the whip to attempt to contain his harem) and you find a huge metaphor for the de-masculation of the Italian male, seeped in a dark tea of a Catholic childhood. (Forgive Federico, he was in psychotherapy and messing about with dream therapy, seances and LSD.) The title comes from the number of films Fellini had made so far - mixing in 3 short films, this is his eighth and a half. Shot during a film lab strike, Fellini filmed for 4 months before he ever reviewed a single frame. Snob appeal: won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits) | 1965

Juliet of the Spirits dvd
Criterion Collection features Giulietta Masina

Ostensibly the female identity crisis equivalent to 8.5 - complete with Catholic guilt - Giulietta is tired of being a trophy wife and tries to find her place in a world where men are complete asses with help from a cabal of free female personalities. (Any relation to Giulietta's real-life marriage to Federico is completely coincidental) For more commentary on this time in Fellini's life, go here. Snob appeal: won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and Fellini's first film in color.

Fellini Satyricon | 1969

Fellini Satyricon dvd
Criterion Collection

Fellini's attempt to prove ancient Rome was groovy. Lyrically excessive hedonists or just dirty hippies?


I clowns (The Clowns) | 1970

i Clowns blu-ray

A film about making a documentary about clowns, as if you need further proof that they don't always smile. Fellini always had a soft spot for these performers and the big tops of his youth.

Fellini's Roma | 1972

Fellini's Roma dvd
Criterion Collection

Fellini's valentine to his favorite city bounces back and forth between the heady modern city, Fellini's first glimpses of its prewar grandeur, ancient times (again) and a mock-doc about the making of this film. This is the movie with the Vegas pageant of rockstar popes and bishops in full-on sparkling vestments.

Amarcord (I remember) | 1973

Amarcord blu-ray
Criterion Collection

Taking a cue from his flashback portions in Roma, this film tells many stories over a year in a smalltown in prewar Italy under Mussolini's thrall. In an era of nostalgia waved flicks (American Graffiti could be an American equivalent), Amarcord portrays coming of age Fellini-style while pointing out how important the movie theatre was to people before TV and the internet (a theme expounded a decade and a half later in the amazing Cinema Paradiso). This is the film with the weird cardboard cut-out "cruise ship" set. Snob appeal: won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Fellini's Casanova | 1976

Fellini's Casanova dvd

The point of having anemic American actor Donald Sutherland play the lead role was supposedly to show Casanova was all about attitude and not striking good looks and charisma.

Prova d'orchestra (Orchestra Rehearsal) | 1978

Orchestra Rehearsal dvd

An orchestra revolting against their conductor becomes a stand-in for possibly the politics of late 70s Italy.


La città delle donne (City of Women) | 1980

City of Women dvd
features Marcello Mastroianni

Some 15 years after 8.5, Fellini finally has to admit women have changed and he's having a real hard time coping. Marcello takes the wrong train and ends up trapped at a feminist convention.

E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On) | 1983

And the ship sails on dvd
Criterion Collection

Fellini goes back to pre-WWI to show the last vestiges of a grand Europe while stuck with a shipload of eccentrics. This is another film where instead of leaving the studio, Fellini tries to replicate the ocean with swaths of sparkling fabric.

Ginger e Fred (Ginger and Fred) | 1986

Ginger and Fred
features Giulietta Masina features Marcello Mastroianni

Marcello and Giulietta are two retired vaudeville performers reunited during a big garish live TV spectacle. You can easily figure out which world is going to win in this clash.

Intervista (Interview) | 1987


A mock doc about Fellini being interviewed by Japanese TV about being Fellini. (Like the sci fi movie within 8.5, here Fellini is supposedly filming a Kafka adaptation.) Marcello and Anita cameo as themselves.

La voce della luna (The Voice of the Moon) | 1990

La voce della luna dvd

Since I can't find this to rent or buy, Fellini's swansong might have to remain a mystery for awhile. It concerns madness and stars Roberto Benigni.

Some lasting effects

Stardust Memories | 1980

Stardust Memories dvd

Woody Allen's black-and-white story of a film director who can't figure out how to end his film didn't win him many new fans, who thought he was being openly hostile to an audience who disliked him straying from making "his earlier, funnier films".

Nine | 2009

Nine dvd

Based on a Broadway musical based on 8.5, Nine the movie is appropriately set in the early 60s. I was hoping it would look more like a Fellini film - but while there is an obvious warmth and affection for Federico, it's still a musical made by the guy who did Chicago. For many film historians, the proper musical remake of 8.5 has always been All That Jazz.

In Search of Fellini | 2017

in search of fellini dvd

On the surface, a movie about discovering who you are through the surreal magic of Fellini's genius, but for the true fan, you will find a film that pays homage to Il Maestro with its cinematography as well as its many easter eggs. A true work of love.