Did you happen to record Monty Python’s Flying Circus
when it was shown on PBS back in the 1970s?
Do you still have the tapes?
Is there a TIME LIFE logo at the end?
If so, please write to me. Thank you!

Click here to learn the story.

A bandit in Yankee The Greatest Philosopher in L’urlo prepares a meal
Olindo the Miller has run out of patience in La vacanza An Indian Chief visits the Salon Kitty
(The US VHS edition was so murky that this shot was rendered completely invisible)
Caligula’s mute mascot,
the “Little Giant”
Waiting to be questioned by the police in Action
A sailor in The Key
A villager in Miranda Sergeĭ the Russian coach driver in Capriccio
A monk has a good time in Snack Bar Budapest Remo settles a problem in Paprika
A bus passenger makes trouble in Così fan tutte A monk in Monella
A voyeur at the beach in TRAsgreDIRE The captain in Senso ’45
The voyeur is still at the beach in Fallo!

Who IS This Guy?

Postscript (Tuesday, 1 July 2004). Well, now I feel like an idiot. Turns out I knew who this guy was all along; I just didn’t realize it! I have watched every Fellini-directed movie, and back in the late 1980s I watched I clowns on VHS over and over and over again, in total enchantment. Then I retired the tape, except to loan it out to friends. I’ll never understand why I didn’t make the connection until this spring, when I sat through a retrospective of nearly all of Fellini’s films. The instant the opening credits hit the screen, it dawned on me that I was about to hear a very familiar voice. And once the film proper started, it dawned on me that I was about to see a very familiar face. Never had I enjoyed the film so much as I did that night. (Adding to my almost unendurable delight was the appearance of Pierre Etaix, who later went on to work on the restoration of Buster Keaton’s short films released on DVD in France by my friend Serge Bromberg.)


Furthermore, Osiride Pevarello was interviewed in the introduction to the published script of Monella, where he explained that he is a Gypsy, born in 1915 in Padova, and spent his life in circuses, at first as an equestrian. In the 1950s his stage name was Zampanò, a name that Fellini borrowed for Anthony Quinn’s character in La strada. Osiride claims to have worked on 8 ½, E la nave va, and numerous other Fellini films. Well, if he did, he must have ended up on the cutting-room floor — though he did certainly appear in Satyricon, exclaiming “Il tiranno è morto!” (frustratingly dubbed by someone else in the English version). And perhaps, perhaps, he briefly appeared in Ginger e Fred as the guy who hands a bouquet of flowers to the the television van about eight minutes into the film. He also says he worked on Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, but, once again, either I can’t recognize him, or he was deleted — at least from the versions I saw.

Il tiranno è morto!

Osiride Pevarello in his native setting, the circus
(Federico Fellini’s I clowns, 1970)

And now, a glimpse from Fellini and Masina’s Ginger e Fred — could it be?

Post-Postscript (added 4 July 2008): There’s more. Back in June 1990 the 148-seat Jackman Hall at the Art Gallery of Ontario (in Toronto) hosted a touring retrospective of all the films directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. I found that the films, without exception, were masterworks. But it was Pasolini’s earliest movies, the ones in black and white, that seared themselves into my memory. They were works of Social Realism, and despite the fictional stories, the occasional absurdism, and the blatant artificiality of the ADR, they were more real than real. Watching those movies was hardly different from living the experiences depicted. From that time to the present, Pasolini has been one of my idols.

Mamma Roma is perhaps Pasolini’s most powerful film, and perhaps his most accessible. I was so impressed that I purchased the Connoisseur VHS from the UK as soon as it was released, but couldn’t bring myself to watch it, as it was a bit fuzzy, and therefore a violation of my memory of some of the sharpest, clearest, most devastating black and white I had ever seen. Just in the past few days I obtained the Criterion DVD, which is far superior to the VHS. I put it in my machine, watched the preview, and nearly fell over. I scanned through the movie to see if that same scene was actually in the final film. Yes, it was.

The preview was not timed as dark. So let’s look at a few more frames:

Post-Post-Postscript. There’s also a Renzo Pevarello, who appeared in Yankee, and I assume that he’s Osiride’s brother or cousin or something. Sometimes Osiride’s surname is spelled Peverello, and sometimes his full name is given as Curtis Hershel. If you want to see more pictures of this magnificent performer, please take a look at the following sites, and have much fun!

Cinema populaire
Acteurs non reconnus — Actors not Recognized

Original research and commentary copyright © 2009 by Ranjit Sandhu. All rights reserved.

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