In memory, Federico Fellini's 1973 work, an Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, stands among his masterpieces. But seen today, Amarcord is something of a disappointment, clever and moving in places, but also sprawling, undisciplined, clumsy in patches, and decidedly overlong.
Partly satiric and partly nostalgic, it's Fellini's Our Town return to his seaside childhood home of Rimini, where everyone knows your name and minds your business, and where most, as if characters in a play by Chekhov, yearn for what they don't have. It's the 1930s, so a key episode in the movie is when everybody turns out in celebration of Mussolini's Fascist government.
But the usually apolitical Fellini reveals, at night, the dark underbelly of the Fascists, who bully and murder those who don't conform. Fellini's humor? It's sharpest in the Grosz gallery of schoolteacher grotesques, weakest in the incessant balloon breasts and flatulence jokes, which are on the puerile level of Porky's.