The White Sheik

Black and white
85 min
P.D.C. - O.F.I.
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Two newly-weds, Wanda and Ivan, are spending their honeymoon in Rome during the Holy Year. He comes from a bourgeois family and has planned everything, including visiting the Pope. As soon as they arrive in Rome, Wanda leaves the hotel and looks for the White Sheik, the hero of a photo love story published on a magazine she’s a fond reader of. She goes to Fregene, where a new episode of the White Shiek is being made and she finds out that her ‘hero’ is not up to her expectations. She tries to commit suicide by diving into the Tevere river, but she’s rescued. She finally goes back to the hotel, where she meets her husband. They hurriedly go to Saint Peter’s Basilica, together with her relatives, to meet the Pope.


Director: Federico Fellini
Story: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli (da un'idea di Michelangelo Antonioni)
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli con la collaborazione di Ennio Flaiano
Cinematography: Arturo Gallea
Camera operator: Antonio Belviso
Music: Nino Rota
Musical director: Fernando Previtali
Production design: Raffaello Tolfo
Film editing: Rolando Benedetti
First assistant director: Stefano Ubezio
Sound: Armando Grilli, Walfredo Traversari
Makeup artist: Franco Titi
Still photographer: Osvaldo Civirani
Script supervisor: Moraldo Rossi
Producer: Luigi Rovere
Production manager: Enzo Provenzale
Production secretary: Renato Panetuzzi


Alberto Sordi : Fernando Rivoli "Lo sceicco bianco"
Brunella Bovo : Wanda Giardino in Cavalli
Leopoldo Trieste : Ivan Cavalli
Giulietta Masina : Cabiria
Lilia Landi : Felga
Ernesto Almirante : il regista di fumetti
Fanny Marchiò : Marilena Vellardi
Gina Mascetti : la moglie dello "Sceicco bianco"
Enzo Maggio : il portiere d'albergo
Ugo Attanasio : lo zio di Ivan
Jole Silvani : prostituta amica di Cabiria


"The first day we worked on Lo sceicco bianco started very badly indeed. We had to shoot outdoors. I left Rome at dawn and when I said good-bye to Giulietta I was very tense. I was driving a Fiat car (“Cinquecento”) car and I stopped in front of a church, and I went in to pray. I saw a catafalque in the shadow, and I thought it was a bad omen. But there wasn’t a catafalque in the church, there wasn’t anyone. There was just me, I couldn’t remember even a prayer. I made some vague promises of repentance and I went out a little restless. On the road to Ostia, a tire of my car burst and I had to change it myself. I did not feel able to do it, so I was there, quite desperate, thinking that I’d be late for my first film-making experience. Luckily, a Sicilian good-humored truck driver saw me, and helped me. I arrived to Fregene at 9.45 a.m. while I had an appointment at 8.30 a.m. All the members of the crew were on board a large boat, one kilometer away on the immense sea. They seemed so far, unreachable. While a motor boat was driving me towards them, my eyes were dazzled by the sun. They not were unreachable, and I couldn’t see them any longer. I was wondering 'What shall I do now? ... ' I didn’t remember the film plot, I didn’t remember anything, I simply had to run away and forget it. Then, all of a sudden all my doubts vanished when I was on board. I joined the crew. I was curious to see where it was all going to end. "
Federico Fellini, Fare un film, Einaudi, Torino, 1980, p. 51-52


Lino Del Fra
In the Sceicco bianco the original expressions are coupled with anxiety. The camera is pitiless when shooting the gestures and actions made by the small-bourgeois protagonists who are trying to make their provincial dreams come true. Middle class people here give up their authenticity and try to stick to their myths.
“Bianco e Nero”, a. XVIII, n. 6, June 1957
Guido Aristarco
This film confirms Federico Fellini’s talent as a director, after Luci del Varietà – that he directed together with Lattuada - and also gives an example of a work of art that has to be very carefully watched and understood. At a first glance in fact we do not immediately perceive how unique this film is. Common people undertake trivial actions in common places, but those people, those places and those actions take on precise meanings. However, while in Luci del Varietà Liliana eventually lives in the world of comics, in Lo sceicco bianco provincial Wanda manages to escape from some "love lies" and her adventure becomes a positive experience because she abandons the world of photo love stories and magazines and goes back to the real world.
“Cinema Nuovo”, a. I, n. 1, 15 dicembre 1952
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