Circus strongman Anthony Quinn pops into poor village, visits poor family, mentions that their oldest girl has died, and skips off with the next-oldest, the simpleminded and very facially-expressive Giulietta Masina. She eventually learns to be useful in the act, but he never warms up to her, disappearing all night with whores and the like. Guy robs a convent and kills the clown she likes, then leaves her to die on her own, and carries on for years with his lame chain-busting bit. Not one of those “tough guy with the heart of gold” stories then.
Not as dismal as I’ve made it sound above, but still pretty dismal. Very watchably dismal though, whenever Giulietta Masina is onscreen, which is almost always. Mixes Fellini’s clown obsession with his bummer realist stuff very successfully. To think that I was afraid of this movie after seeing La Dolce Vita. Wonder if Katy would’ve enjoyed it.