La Dolce Vita
Directed by Federico Fellini, a journalist who writes about entertainers and celebrities spends his time trying to garner gossip about them for his newspaper by playing with wealthy people who are trying to live the sweet life.
A helicopter is carrying a statue of Jesus over Rome as another helicopter flies behind it. Women in bikinis are sunbathing and stand up to wave to the helicopters. Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is in the second helicopter and waves back. They pass over St. Peter’s Circle.
Asians are dancing in a restaurant. Marcello asks waiters what celebrities are eating, and they tell him; but a head waiter will not let him take photographs. One employee asks why he gave him so much money. If he wants information, he is always there. Marcello signals his Paparazzo (Walter Santesso) who takes a quick picture. A man tells the manager who demands the film in his camera. The photographer says he has a right to images as he is escorted out. A man at a table with two women asks to talk with Marcello. The man tells him he is a naughty boy, and he will have to break his face. Marcello says his job is to inform the public, and it is just publicity. The man says he got this woman in trouble with her husband. He asks if he worries about him being cuckolded, and Marcello says he is not a journalist. The man tells him not to overdo it, and Marcello says the man will kill him. Maddalena (Anouk Aimée) in dark glasses goes to the bar and asks the bartender if someone has shown up yet, finds out he has not, and orders a whiskey. She is surprised this place is still open. People applaud the Asian dancers. The orchestra plays, and people dance. Marcello asks Maddalena to dance, but she says no. He suggests they have vodka, but she says that everything is going wrong tonight and that she is leaving. He offers to accompany her, and they leave together.
Marcello and Maddalena get into her luxurious convertible while he tells the paparazzi to leave her alone. She drives off, and he says she must be used to it now because she is a public figure. She stops in an empty plaza and says she would like to live in another city; but he says he likes Rome because it is a moderate and tranquil jungle where one can hide. She would like to hide too, but she can’t. She gets out of the car and says she would like to live on an island. He tells her to buy one. She wonders if she would go there. He says her problem is that she has too much money, and she says his problem is that he does not have enough. She says here they are, the two of them, and he says they are among the few left to be unhappy. He asks what happened to her there, and she says nothing. He tells her not to worry. She is so rich that if she falls, she will land on her feet. She says she cannot even stand on her own feet. She needs a change. She says only making love gives her strength, and he says long live love then. A woman on a wall overlooking her says that her car is an apartment. Maddalena asks if she is Liliana, and she says no. Another woman appears and says that Liliana went to Milano. Maddalena asks if they want to take a ride with them. One woman says yes, and the other asks a man. Maddalena tells Marcello they are going to take them for a ride. He asks what she wants to do. She says they will take them home. She asks if he knows her, and he says no. Two men drive off on a motorcycle, and one says to get money from them because they are rich. The first woman asks her to take her home, and the other is not going. The woman says she lives far away, and Marcello tells her to sit in back. She says where she lives.
Maddalena is driving, and the woman asks if it is her car. She says yes. The woman asks if he bought it for her, and Marcello says her father did. The woman says all her father ever gave her was beatings. Maddalena asks if he knows her father, and he says she introduced him once. She asks where his parents live, and he says by the sea. He asks the woman how it is going. She says a hypocrite gave her 1,000 lira and a pack of smokes. Maddalena asks if he would go with a woman like this one, and he says no. She asks why because she is not worse than many. He says he would sometimes. They stop, and the woman asks them to be quiet because people are sleeping. He turns off the radio. Maddalena asks who lives with her, and she says he is out of town. Maddalena asks if she will offer them coffee, and she says sure. She gets out and leads the way. Maddalena puts on her shoes.
The woman takes them down stairs and says it is flooded again. She tells them to wait while she puts down more boards to walk on. She tells them to go into the bedroom, and she makes coffee. Maddalena asks him to close the door, and he does so. She lies on the bed and smiles. He asks if she wants to make love there. He sits on the bed, and she pulls him to her for an embrace and a kiss. The woman looks in the window and says she will leave their coffee in the kitchen.
In the morning outside by the car her pimp asks if she agreed on the terms before, but the woman says they did everything on their own. She asks if she was supposed to kick them out; but she hopes they will give her 2,000 lira. He says he sets the price. She assumes they are husband and wife. Marcello and Maddalena come out of the apartment and get in the car. The woman directs her how to drive out of there and gives Marcello a kiss. She thanks them and tells them to come back, warning her not to speed. They drive off.
Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) in a robe in an apartment seems to be desperately sick or miserable.
Marcello drives his sports-car. He goes into the apartment and finds Emma on the floor in the hall. He asks what is wrong, but she does not speak. He asks what the fool did and picks up the phone. He goes to her and says he will take her to the hospital. He asks why she is so crazy. He asks if she wants to ruin him. He says one day he will just let her die. He puts a coat around her and picks her up.
Marcello is driving his car with Emma who is unconscious. He parks in the basement of the hospital. Later a man asks if he brought in the poisoned woman, and he asks her name. Marcello says he can’t tell him and asks him to leave him alone. A nun tells him that he can go in.
Marcello goes in a hospital room and sees Emma on a table. A doctor tells him not to tire her because she needs rest. He can take her home in a couple hours, and he tells him a report is mandatory. He kisses her hand and asks why she did it. A doctor comes to the door and tells him the brigadier is waiting to make the report. He tells her he will be right back and goes into the empty room where he is told to wait. He asks to use the phone and calls Maddalena who is sleeping.
A plane lands, and photographers gather around the steps. Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) comes out first and waves. One tells her to go back, and she does it again. Men run and give her pizza and flowers. A reporter says the famous producer Toto Scalise has arrived with his star. They offer pizza to the Swedish actress. The paparazzi back up and take more photos. Marcello asks a stewardess if she had a good trip.
The motorcade travels through the country. In her hotel room Sylvia answers questions from reporters while photos are taken. She says she likes Italian food. What she likes most is love. Marcello is on the phone to Emma and says fifty people are in the room. She asks him to swear on his mother’s life. Sylvia tries on a wig and poses. Emma on the phone says she is going to come over and rip his eyes out. She asks him to come over and says she wants to make love. Sylvia’s boyfriend Robert (Lex Barker) speaks in English. She says she expected him at the airport and asks what happened to him. He says he was sleeping. Emma tells Marcello that she waited all day for him and asks what he would like to eat. She says they can go to the movies or stay in. She asks if he loves her.
Sylvia visits St. Peter’s church, and Marcello follows her. They go up stairs. He finds her looking out a window, and she goes up higher. He is tired and sees her on a balcony overlooking the circle. She takes off his dark glasses.
In the restaurant people are dancing as Marcello dances with Sylvia. He says she is everything, the first woman of the creation, an angel, a devil. He tells her to go back to America and kisses her hand. He says he must see her at all costs and interview her. The actor Frankie Stout (Alain Dijon) calls to her and dances around them. Marcello lets them dance and sits down. A woman asks Robert if his drawing of her is a good likeness. Sylvia dances by herself, and Frankie picks her up. He walks on his hands, and she holds his ankles. The woman tells drunk Robert that he has to work tomorrow. Marcello sits at the table with Robert. People call for a singer who sings rock and roll. He backs up and falls off the stage. Sylvia leads them in a dance outside. She goes back to the stage, and Frankie picks her up and twirls her. She goes to Toto, sits down, and introduces Robert to Frankie. Robert asks when she stopped working for the wealthy widows, and Frankie laughs. She calls Robert a stupid drunk and says she never wants to see him again. She runs off. Marcello says he will bring her back and asks for her shoes. He runs after he and has her get in his car. He makes a paparazzo get out of his car and drives off. The paparazzo gets on the back of a scooter and tries to follow him.
Marcello drives fast and looks back. He stops in the country, and she says everything is so difficult. They get out of the car. He starts to kiss her, but she hears a dog calling someone. She howls, and he warns her the ground is full of holes. He suggests they should leave, and she gets in the car.
Marcello is talking with a mother on the phone and says he is sorry to have disturbed her. He goes back to his car and tells Sylvia he can’t take her home because the mad woman does not understand. He says he has an idea and gets in the car.
Maddalena gets a call from Marcello and asks if he got the wrong number. He asks if he can bring over someone, but she says it is late. He asks if she is alone, and she says she is playing cards with her father. He says he will call her soon and says goodbye. He goes back to his car and finds Sylvia with a kitty she found. He says Rome is full of cats. He tells her to stay in the car, and he will find out about the cat. He asks someone for milk. She walks around with the cat on her head and calls to Marcello. She comes to a fountain and he sees her in it. He puts the milk on the ground. She tells him to come there in a hurry. He says he will. He says he is making a mistake and joins her in the fountain. He asks who she is. She asks him to listen, but the sound of the water fades as the fountain is turned off.
Photographers are taking pictures of sleeping Robert in his car, and one says he did Tarzan. They see Marcello arrive with Sylvia, and he stops in the street. Robert wakes up and gets out of the car and walks over to Sylvia. She says goodnight to Marcello and tells Robert that he missed something. He slaps her and tells her to go to bed. She tells him not to do things like that and goes inside. Robert tells Marcello that he can understand him and then hits him twice. Paparazzi take pictures.
Marcello is sitting on a chair on the sidewalk reading a newspaper, and the paparazzo asks which picture to take next. He tells him, sees something, and says he will be back. He runs across the street and goes into a church. He sees Steiner (Alain Cuny) and asks how he is. Steiner is happy to see him and shows him a Sanskrit grammar book. He asks Marcello how his book is going, and he says he would let him read it. Steiner says he read and liked one of his articles because it was vivid and passionate, qualities he hides but that belong to him. Marcello does not think he knows how to write. Steiner invites him to see him some evening. He asks a priest if he can bring up a friend to see him, and he tells Marcello that priests are not afraid of the devil. He says they let him play the organ. Steiner tells the priest that he will play some jazz at the most. He plays the organ for Marcello.
Marcello is driving his car with Emma and a paparazzo. She persuades Marcello to eat a hard-boiled egg and peels a banana. He reluctantly eats banana too. They stop at a place in the country and then drive on to a place where people have gathered. Marcello gets out and talks to Norman who says they are locked in the police headquarters. Another paparazzo asks Marcello to take him along, and he will tell him about the Communists. People are chanting, “Damn you,” and Emma goes up to the fence. The paparazzo with others goes over the fence to look for the children. They go up stairs past people and find a woman who asks if she can go home. They take pictures of her. A man says it is a miracle.
On the ground Marcello is talking with a priest who says it is not a miracle. He says the children are making things up. Whoever sees the Madonna is changed; they don’t make money on her. He says miracles are born out of silence, not from this confusion. Men are playing a film of children who say they saw the Madonna. A woman says it does not matter if it was the Madonna, and Emma asks her why she says that. She says Italy is an ancient land with supernatural forces. She says everyone feels their influence. She asks Emma if she came for a miracle, but Emma says she came with her boyfriend who is a journalist. She says these people frighten her. A director tells the camera crew how to film the children. Emma sees Marcello and stands by him as he takes notes. The director tells them to get something to eat. A woman holding a child plays a scene by a tree. She says that the Madonna hears them.
Later people with candles gather around the sacred area. A reporter describes the crowd and says they learned that the two children are being held by the police. They are waiting for word from Rome. A reporter interviews the uncle of the two children. He says they first saw the image of the Madonna on March 15 of this year. Marcello tells Emma that permission from Rome has arrived. The children are coming. He tells her to stay there and says he is going to see something. He climbs up to a platform that has a light on it. The director gives instructions for the lights. Emma looks up at Marcello and asks herself why he changed his mind and does not love her anymore. She prays to the Madonna that if he married her, she would come there on foot every day to thank her. She does not ask for that, but she wants him to be hers again. The two children are arriving, and photographers take pictures of them. The director instructs the cameramen. People are praying, and police try to hold others back. Marcello says it is raining and could be dangerous. The director says the rain is making the lights explode and orders the generators turned off. Some people use umbrellas. The television reporter says they had to take shelter in the bus. The children are praying, and one wears a raincoat. The girl points and says the Madonna is there. She runs a few steps and then kneels and prays. The reporter says how the crowd followed them. The children run in another direction and then the opposite way. The uncle picks up the girl, and she says that if they don’t build a church there, the Madonna will not come there anymore. The uncle tells people to go home and get some sleep. Some people run to the tree and tear off leaves and branches from it. Cars toot their horns as they try to leave. Marcello tries to keep Emma from attacking a paparazzo who wants to take her picture. She and Marcello walk in the rain. A woman cries that he is dead.
The next day a woman is laid out, and priests pray over her as one covers her face.
Steiner’s wife welcomes Marcello and Emma as they go in and are greeted by Steiner. A blonde woman introduces Marcello to a woman who is a painter. Steiner tells Emma that he feels he knows her. He says when she loves Marcello more than he does, then she will be happy. A dark woman finishes singing, and an old man says that Oriental woman are most real. His wife asks why he married her, and he says he made a mistake. The blonde woman asks Marcello to introduce her to Emma. Steiner introduces Marcello to the Orientalist, and he says he agrees with his ideas about women. The man tells the women they do not know how to make love anymore. Marcello says he has read all his stories from around the world. He would like to travel and meet interesting people. He says having children of different colors would be satisfying like a bouquet of flowers. He says the man must have great memories, but he says he has projects. He calls Emma splendid, and Steiner says the man is extraordinary. He has written dozens of important books and maintains a childlike candor. Steiner wonders where he gets so much optimism and faith. Marcello talks with Steiner about one of his paintings. Iris says that Steiner told her that Marcello has two loves, literature and journalism, and he does not know which one to choose. She advises him to stay free like she is, never get married and never choose. Even in love it is better to be chosen. Marcello tells her that he read her poetry and likes it. He says it does not seem like a woman’s writing. Emma asks what he knows about women. He says he prefers this precise art that they will need in the future, that does not lie or flatter. Now he has a job that he does not like, but he thinks about tomorrow. Iris says they must all think about tomorrow while not forgetting to live today. She thinks if one lives intensely in fullness of spirit, every instant will be like a year, and after every year one will be five years younger. People laugh. Steiner says that she is an oracle tonight, and she says she is an alcoholic one. She asks Emma what she does with her days. Emma says she does not know, and she asks Iris who says her three big escapes are drinking, smoking, and going to bed. Steiner says this is her wisdom; but she says he does not understand her poetry, though he is as tall as a Gothic cathedral. He says he is very small. A man plays back the recent conversation, and then sounds of thunder and weather are heard. People asks Steiner why he recorded them. They hear birds chirping and wind in a forest.
Two little children come in, and Steiner asks why they got out of bed. Mrs. Steiner picks up the little boy, and Steiner takes him and holds him. Emma gets up and comes over to see the children. Steiner hands the boy to her. He tells them to be good and go back to sleep. He says the girl is different and likes language. She invents beautiful phrases such as “Who is the mother of the sun?” Emma asks if they sleep with them. Steiner says they would like to, but they do not allow it. He says sometimes the little one sneaks into their bed. He says it is sweet to fall asleep with a child next to you. The dark woman sings again. Iris asks Marcello if he has known Steiner a long time. He says he has, but they have only seen each other three or four times. Emma sits on the floor by Marcello and says that one day he too will have a house like this. She says they get on well together, but he looks away at Steiner, gets up, and goes to him. He asks if can come there more often. Steiner says he told him he can come there any time. Marcello says he should change his environment and many things. He says Steiner’s house, family, and friends are a refuge. Marcello feels like he has been wasting his time. Once he had ambitions, but now he may be losing everything. Steiner tells him that safety is not being locked up in one’s home, and he advises him not to do what he did. He is too serious to be an amateur but not enough to be a professional. He says a miserable life is better than organized society where everything is calculated and perfect. He tells Marcello that he can be his friend but not give him advice. If he wants his help, he can help him meet an editor who will give him a chance to focus on what interests him. He says it is better than writing for those half-fascist papers. He asks if he wants to think about it and discuss it later. Marcello says yes.
Steiner goes to another room and looks at his sleeping children. At night he says sometimes the darkness and silence frightens him. He is afraid of peace more than anything else. He says it is an outer shell with hell hiding behind it. He thinks about what his children will see tomorrow. They say it will be wonderful; but he says a phone call can announce the end of the world. One should live outside of passions and emotions in the harmony you find in completed art works. We should learn to love each other so much that we live out of time and detached.
Outside at a small restaurant Marcello says on the telephone that he wants to work in peace. He asks the waitress to turn off the music. He hangs up on the mad woman and sits down at a table to work on his typewriter. He tells the waitress not to sing, and she asks if he wants something to eat. He says no, and she asks about typing. He says she is pretty and must know it. He asks why she came to Rome, and she says her father came to Anzio. She says the little boy is her helper, and he says they treat her well there. She says she does not like it and cannot wait until she can go home. She misses Perugia. He asks to see her profile and says she looks like one of those little angels from the paintings in the Umbrian church. She laughs, and he asks why. He asks if she has a boyfriend, and she says she does. She asks if he is still writing. He says no, and she gets his permission to turn the music back on. He goes to the phone, and Emma answers.
Marcello in his car is told by a paparazzo that his father has been looking for him for two hours. He parks his car and finds his father in an outdoor restaurant. He says in his work he runs around all day and only goes home to sleep. His father says he is in Rome to solicit a case at the Ministry. He says everything gets shelved there. Marcello asks about his mother, and he gives him a letter from her. He says Marcello could write her more often. His father says in his town it is not so lively at this hour. His father asks if he has adjusted to this life. Marcello says if you are a good journalist, it is fruitful and that he has been lucky. Now he knows everyone, and he gets around. He has a car. His father says that every time he called, a woman answered. He asks who she is. He advises his son not to be foolish and says that marriage is serious. His father assumes he is living with someone, but Marcello says he spoke with the cleaning lady. The paparazzo comes over and says he will take a look around. His father does not want to keep him from his work, but Marcello says there is work there too because important people come there and make news. He says his paper is up there. They talk about what to do, and his father says a friend told him about a cabaret, the Cha Cha Club. They decide to go there, and Marcello calls his paparazzo to go with them.
At the Cha Cha Club women dressed like cats dance. The three men sit a table and order drinks. His father says he once went to a cabaret in Paris and admired a woman’s legs, but after stripping off clothes he saw that it was a man. Six women dancers come on stage, and one tells Marcello she wants his picture in his paper. Marcello tells her the man is her father. They decide to invite her to the table. His father says he is an expert on champagne because he sold it across Italy. Fanny (Magali Noel) brings the champagne and sits down at the table. She tells him to send his son back to his hometown, and he laughs. She says he is too young to be his father, and he tells her not to talk about age. He says boredom ages us. He says he traveled a lot in his work and can still do so; but staying home makes you feel you are 80. She points to a man on stage who plays the trumpet. The father has opened the champagne and gives her a glass for a toast. They drink, and he pours another glass. Fanny tells Marcello that his father is funnier than he is. The father puts a coin on his forehead and then catches it. When she tries it, he does not leave the coin on her forehead. She laughs at his trick and gets up and sits between father and son. She tells a story about a woman who sends her husband to market with three shirts and things. He drinks along the way and comes home. She uses napkins to imitate handkerchiefs, shirts, and a brassiere. The father asks to dance with Fanny, and Marcello watches them. He tells the paparazzo that when he was a child, his father traveled most of the time; his mother cried, and he hardly saw him. He says he still does not know him. He is enjoying seeing him tonight, and the paparazzo suggests he show him a good time. While dancing the father says Fanny has beautiful eyes. He hugs her as they dance.
Later the father gets into Fanny’s car with her and persuades his son to let him go with her. Marcello gets in his car with the paparazzo and two women. Marcello takes them to a garage and says he wants to take a walk.
Later Fanny sees Marcello in the street and says his father got sick. He runs up the stairs, and she shows him to her apartment. He sees his father sitting in a chair and tells her to turn out the light. His father says he may have drunk a little too much. Marcello asks if he wants some water. His father says it will pass, and Marcello sits down. His father learns it is 4 and says he has to take a train at 5:30. He stands up and says he can make it. Marcello invites him to rest at his place, but his father says he has to go. His father says he feels better, but Marcello urges him to stay tomorrow. He says he will skip work, and they can be together. He says they can talk and laments they never see each other. His father repeats he has to go. Fanny says the taxi is there. Marcello says they can send the taxi away and asks his father to stay. Fanny says goodbye to them and closes the door.
Outside Marcello says goodbye as his father leaves in the taxi.
At night Marcello is at the usual outdoor restaurant. He sees two men quarrel and slap each other, and he tries to find out what it is about. He sees Nico (Nico Otzak) and asks where she is going. She invites him to go with her and finds a place for them in the back of a car. He is sitting next to Irene and asks what town they are going to.
At a party a man calls Nico a slut and dances with her. The youngest son introduces Marcello to his grandmother and to Irene. Women talk to him, and he says he could give them news that is not exaggerated. Then he sees Maddalena who tells him about an American painter. She says that Federica is a wolf who likes to milk the young ones. She mentions others who are wealthy. He asks about the villa and looks at paintings of beautiful women. He sees that Maddalena has put a veil over her face, and he says he has thought of her often. He says he does not understand her, and she says neither does she. He asks if she is afraid of serious talks, and she asks if he knows how to talk seriously. She takes him to a room where they are alone and goes away to another room and talks to him from there. She says this will seem like she no longer exists. She says she is there. She asks him if he will marry her, and he asks about her. She says she is in love with him. He asks since when. She asks him to identifies sounds, and he gets the first one is a kiss. She asks again if he will marry her and if he is afraid to answer. He asks if she is a bit drunk, and she admits she is. She says she loves him and that she would like to be his wife and be faithful. She would like to be his wife and have fun like a whore. He says that tonight he feels like he loves her a lot and that he needs her. He does not know if she is playing; but he loves her and wants to be with her. She says he would hate her after a month. He asks why he would hate her. She says it is because one cannot have everything but only one thing or the other. For her it is too late to choose; she never wanted to make a choice. She says she is a whore and that it is hopeless because she always will be. She does not want to be anything else. He disagrees and says he knows that she has an extraordinary gift. He mentions her courage and sincerity and says he really needs her. In the other room a man with her is listening. Marcello says her desperation gives him strength, and he thinks she would be a marvelous companion. Because he could tell her everything, she would know everything. The man sits down next to her and puts his finger to his lips and then kisses her. Marcello asks if she is listening and wants her to answer him. He tells her that is enough playing and to come back because he wants to talk to her some more. The man hugs her.
Marcello goes out of the room and sees women going outside, and one invites him to come along. He is looking for Maddalena but goes with them. They look around outside. Irene asks Marcello what is next for the great journalist, a third-page article on the corrupted aristocracy? He says he writes other things and that she is not really that interesting. He asks a man who Maddalena came with, and he asks who she is. They go inside a building and up stairs. Marcello tells a woman that she is like a vision that stepped out of a painting. A man tells Giulio that everything is falling apart there and that he should take care of it. A woman tells Giulio that she is his ancestor, and he tells her to get lost. A man tells Irene that if she sees a ghost, to throw her self into his arms. They go into a room where people are conducting a séance. Marcello tells a woman that he must have met her before. They watch the séance in which a woman behaves strangely and says the ghost is inside her. The young man says she is drunk. She says she wants life and love, and others blow out the candles. Another woman asks who it is and who it wants to communicate with. The woman behaving strangely says Giulio. A woman says that Giulio cannot escape her love. A woman takes Marcello’s hand and leads him in the dark. She asks what he is doing and says he is crazy.
The next day they are walking outside. The woman introduces her son to Marcello. They see a priest and say good morning. A woman asks if they are still running around. A woman tells Marcello that she is the princess mother.
At night Marcello and Emma are sitting in his parked car, and she asks why he is treating her worse than a dog. She asks who he thinks he is. She says if he loved her half as much as she loves him, he would understand some things. He agrees. She says he can’t love anybody, and he tells her not to scream. She says he can’t even fathom what it means to love someone. He asks if she does. She says he is selfish and that his heart is locked and empty. He only cares about women and thinks that is love. He says he knows what she has been saying for four hours and that he can’t take it anymore. He wants to go home. She says not all men are like him; some are happy to find someone who loves them, and they don’t go on looking for other women. He is the only one who is like this, and it is a disgrace. He says his disgrace is having met her. He says he can’t stand having her around anymore. She gets out of the car, and he tells her to go away forever. She walks down the street, and he asks where she is going. He tells her to come back. She tells him to leave her alone and let her live. He starts the car, drives up to her, and tells her to get in. She refuses. He stops the car, and she asks what he wants and calls him a slime and pitiful. She walks away and asks who will stay with him if she leaves him. She turns and asks what he is going to do with his life and who could love him like she does. He says he can’t spend his life loving her. She says that he always said that she is the crazy one and that she lives in a dream outside reality, but she believes he is the one who is off the road. She asks if he sees that he has already found the most important thing in life—a woman who loves him and would give her life for him as if he were the only one in the world. She says he ruins everything because he is always cross and unhappy. She sits in the car and says that when two people love each other, nothing else matters. She asks what he is afraid of, and he says he is afraid of her, her selfishness, and the miserable bleakness of her ideals. Doesn’t she see that she is offering him the life of a spineless worm? She can only talk of cooking and bed. He says that a man who accepts a life like that is finished. He does not believe in her aggressive, sticky, maternal love. He does not want it, and he has no use for it. He says it is not love but brutalization. He asks when she will understand that he can’t live like this. He does not want to be with her anymore; he wants to be alone. He tells her to get out of the car, and she says no. She calls him a beast and a coward, and she feels sorry for him. He says she makes him sick, and he tells her to get out. She says she is not going and will stay with him. He says she cannot stay with him any longer. He gets out of the car, walks around it, and opens her door. He tells her to get out of the car. He tells her it is over, and she bites his hand. He pulls her out of the car and away from it. She calls him a scoundrel. He says he never wants to see her again and drives off as he suggests she get a truck driver to pick her up. He calls her a slut and tells her to go with the whores.
In the morning she is still in the street but is holding some flowers. He comes back in the car and stops near her, waving her in. She runs and gets in the car, and he turns around and drives off.
Marcello and Emma are sleeping in bed, and he wakes and answers the phone. He asks where.
Marcello arrives at a building and goes up the stairs. An official says a man says he is Steiner’s friend, and they let him in. Steiner has been shot, and men are treating it as a crime scene. A man on a phone says the wife does not know about it and will be back later. He says that before the killings, he called a friend and asks her to go and meet his wife. They play the tape from the party. A detective asks Marcello if he was Steiner’s friend. He says he was but that he did not see him often and knows nothing. The detective asks if there was something strange in his life such as financial problems. Marcello says he does not know of anything and that he did not know of any suicidal behavior. The detective asks him to stay available in case they need him later. Marcello sees that the children were hurt. He goes to the balcony and watches them cover Steiner’s body with a sheet.
A car stops, and the detective and Marcello get out and stand in the street by the car. Paparazzi arrive, and the detective asks them to stay back. Marcello says maybe he was just afraid. The detective asks if Steiner had been threatened, and Marcello says not in the way he means. He says he may have been afraid of himself and of everyone. They are waiting for his wife, and a bus lets out Steiner’s wife. She asks the photographers why they are taking her picture. The detective says he must speak to her alone. She asks if something happened. He says there has been a tragedy and asks her not to be scared. She thinks of the children and tries to get away; but they hold her and tell her to follow them. She asks Marcello to tell her. The detective says she will see her children later; they were only hurt. She asks what he means. They get into the car while the photographers surround them. The police car uses its siren and drives off.
At night cars are driving recklessly and call for Marcello; they break through a gate to an estate. They look in the windows, and Marcello breaks the glass.
Inside Marcello is celebrating Nadia’s health and new freedom after the annulment of her marriage. Nadia (Nadia Gray) says one has to be married first to appreciate the freedom. Marcello announces that he left literature and journalism and that now he is a publicity agent. A young woman calls him slime, and he asks her what she would do for an interview and if she wishes he would write something for her. She says he would ruin her career. Two men dressed as women dance, and one of them is tripped. Marcello says he has never seen such boring people. The guest of honor is bored and needs to have a good time. A woman suggests she do a strip tease, and a blonde says if they will put some Middle Eastern music on, she can do a strip tease. Another woman says they have all seen her naked. The woman asks them to let her do it, but a man proposes that the panther do it. A woman says she is a professional and says the guest of honor is bored and could do it. Nadia takes a drink and says she will do it with pleasure. A man says he will quit smoking if she does it. She asks them to play “Patricia.” Marcello announces that an inaugural and commemorative striptease will be performed by Nadia to baptize her new life. Nadia says that one always has to set a good example. Nadia dances in the middle of the room as people sit around. She takes off her fur stole and throws it to a man. She removes her pearl necklace and puts it on another man. She reaches inside her dress and takes off her brassiere and throws it at Marcello. She asks a man behind her to loosen her dress and strips it off. She is wearing a black slip. She sits down and takes her shoes and stockings off. She lies down on the floor. People make suggestions about how she should strip. While under the fur stole she removes her slip. She removes the stole and is in her panties. The host Riccardo (Riccardo Garrone) comes in, and she grabs the stole, gets up, and leaves the room.
Ricardo says he does not want any photos and publicity. A young woman says that on the phone he said they could come. Ricardo asks what idiot broke the glass. He says he is leaving in the morning for Nice. He wants everyone out within a half hour, or he will kick them out. Marcello says they are not going. They are all friends, and he can go if he wants. A young man says that Nadia did not warm up the room, and he asks Marcello to do something. He says he has a thousand ideas. He could keep them for a week without getting bored; but they have to do what he says. He closes a curtain for intimacy. He proposes that their American dancer make love with someone. He asks a woman if she ever had a man all to herself. Nadia comes back into the room. Marcello says he will choose for her and says it will be Tito the Brute who will do her first screwing. He tells a woman to take care of the music and goes over to Tito. He tells him to make a woman out of her when he turns off the light. A woman says they are leaving and thanks him for a nice evening. He says no one is getting out of there because there is plenty of time before dawn. A man throws a pillow that hits Marcello in the face. Marcello insults the women and throws a bottle that breaks. Ricardo asks who he is trying to hurt and says he is going to kick his ass out. Marcello says this party must never end, and they will all stay there. Marcello tells a young woman that she is dying to make love to him. She says she pities him, and he throws his drink in her face. A young man grabs Marcello around the neck and throws him down. He lands in the lap of a pretty blonde, dances with her for a moment, and then rides her like a horse. He slaps her to revive her. Ricardo tells Andrea to start turning out the lights. Marcello pours water on the blonde. He takes feathers from the pillow and puts them on her face and chest. She acts like a horse, and he hits her with the pillow. He throws feathers on her. Ricardo says it is daytime. The blonde removes feathers and says it was a nice party, but that is enough. She goes out. Marcello scatters feathers as others leave. Nadia dances with a man and leaves with him. A few people are left, but Marcello goes out.
Outside they are in woods with their cars. They walk toward the ocean. At the beach some people pull in a net with a dead sea monster. They wonder where it came from. Marcello sits on the beach and sees a woman signaling to him, but he does not understand what she means. He declines what she offered and goes with the others as they leave the beach.
This drama portrays the shallow life of a tabloid journalist who hobnobs with the rich and famous while experiencing a peculiar and decadent life. He quarrels with the woman who loves him and seeks pleasures through cheap entertainment. His friend of high ideals with a good family apparently committed suicide, and this tragedy pushes the writer into an even more crass career as a publicity agent.