Fellini 60’s experimental flick Toby Dammit is a great film by a legendary director. 'Liberally adapted' from Poe's 'Don't Wager Your Head to the Devil', Federico Fellini's Toby Dammit was shot in twenty-six days over the winter of 1967-68, at the experimental film centre near Cinecetta in Rome. It is an extraordinary piece of genuine film psychedelia, and rightly regarded to be amongst the director's finest work.
Dammit reveals that he haunted this personal apparition of the devil; a little blonde girl in a white dress playing with a ball. He moves on to the Lupa d'oro Awards ceremony, where he is hailed as a great Shakespearian actor. Very drunk, he responds by reading a passage from Macbeth, before lashing out verbally at the partygoers. Delirious, he races from the nightcub and leaps into his Ferrari, speeding off into the night through the foggy streets of Rome and into the surrounding countryside.
Lost, he arrives at a collapsed bridge. The little girl seems to be beckoning him from the other side of the chasm. Gunning the engine madly, he attempts to leap his car across the gap, unaware of a steel cable stretched across the road before him. He is neatly decapitated. The child runs to play with the head as if it where her ball.
Nino Rota's labyrinthine music is complimented here by Ray Charles performing ‘Ruby (It's You)’ which is used eloquently in a scene at the awards ceremony.
"An overlooked bit of genius from Federico Fellini – a film that stars Terence Stamp as a Shakespearean actor run amuck – set to wonderful sounds here by the great Nino Rota! Rota revives some of his most charming styles from early 60s Fellini classics like La Dolce Vita or 8 1/2 – that bouncy, thematic approach that often uses plenty of jazz, and which has this wonderful way of mixing whimsy and darkness – at a level that really keeps things interesting throughout! Instrumentation includes some especially great woodwinds, plus a nice bit of organ too." Dustygroove