Il Bidone

The Swindle, The Swindlers (1955)


“Augusto, a shallow, middle-aged, petty confidence man, travels through the Italian countryside with his two companions, the cynical Roberto, and Picasso, the family man, appealing to the greed of the poor in order to pull off cheap swindles. In a favorite ploy, Augusto dresses as a bishop and visits small farms, pretending to find treasure buried by a departed murderer. He turns the “treasure” over to the farmers in exchange for money to celebrate masses for the sinner’s soul. Rinaldo, a newcomer who has made money in the drug trade, invites them to his gaudy New Year’s Eve party to ridicule their shabbiness. One day Augusto meets his 18-year-old daughter, Patrizia, an enthusiastic student with bright hopes for the future. His paternal feelings aroused, he takes her to a movie where he is shamed and humiliated as one of his victims identifies him and he is arrested before Patrizia’s eyes. Upon his release from prison, Augusto finds that Picasso has abandoned the group to rejoin his wife, who has been hurt by the discovery of his criminal activities. Growing increasingly uneasy, Augusto assembles a new crew of con men. In a mechanical repetition of the timeworn treasure swindle, he meets a crippled peasant girl. Forced to hear the confession of a true believer, Augusto is troubled and tries to cheat his companions in order to gain money to help his daughter obtain a job. The other men discover Augusto’s duplicity and viciously attack him. Left alone through the night, Augusto dies in anguish.” 

Source: Turner Classic Movies (TCM)


Comedy, Crime

Format / Medium

Black and white film


104 min



Story and Screenplay

Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli (based on an idea by Federico Fellini)

Main Cast

Broderick Crawford, Richard Basehart, Lorella De Luca, Franco Fabrizi, Giulietta Masina, Alberto De Amicis and Maria Werlen


Nino Rota

Image Credits

Private collection of Federico Grandesso