Antonio Ricci, unemployed for over two years, is overjoyed when he's finally given a job putting up posters. There's a catch, though - he needs a bicycle as a requirement of the job, so he pawns the family linen to get a pawned bicycle back. He goes off to his first day's work, truly happy for the first time in years - and the title of the film gives away what happens next...
One of the best movies to come out of Italy.
Lamberto Maggiorani ... Antonio Ricci
Enzo Staiola ... Bruno Ricci
Lianella Carell ... Maria Ricci
Gino Saltamerenda ... Baiocco
Vittorio Antonucci ... The Thief
Giulio Chiari ... The Beggar
Elena Altieri ... The Charitable Lady
Carlo Jachino ... A Beggar
Michele Sakara ... Secretary of the Charity Organization
Fausto Guerzoni ... Amateur Actor
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Nominated for Oscar.
Codecs: DivX 3 / MP3
Subtitles: English (hard encoded)
The Italian neo-realist film movement began around the end of WWII with Roberto Rossellini's OPEN CITY in 1946. It is defined and encapsulated by this striking film directed by Vittorio De Sica. THE BICYCLE THIEF is the best of a group of films that depicted the hardship and despair that Europeans, specifically Italians, went through after the death and destruction of the war. The economy was horrible, and the towns and cities were half-destroyed and decaying. Rome is the location for THE BICYCLE THIEF and De Sica shoots the city in grainy black and white with non-professional actors to get a simple, yet unbearingly emotional point across. A simple thing such as a bike can be someone's entire world at that time and losing it means doing something irrational or perhaps necessary.
The lead in the film is played by Lamberto Maggiorani who seems to be a very good actor. He is not an actor, however, and maybe this is why the film hits its mark so well and comes across so realistically. Maggiorani is of this difficult world and his brooding face is a clear indication of this. His job is to plaster film posters up on the walls of buildings all over Rome. He even hangs a picture that symbolizes the absolute opposite of the misery surrounding him. Rita Hayworth from GILDA is on the walls all over the city, a sign of joy to some, a representation of their own lowly status to others.
When the bicycle is actually stolen, the "title" character is sought after by Maggiorani and his young son (Enzo Staiola), a little kid with so much acting ability, you swear this must be a documentary. A grueling search throughout Rome has the essential parts of the movie, because we see up close the actual people and places the neo-realist film movement came to represent. It is a small, sad world they live in and the bike has to be found so that they can live. The father is put to the ultimate test in front of his son. Will he do the honorable thing or will he do what his mind and heart know is only possible? These are the tense moments of the film's climax.
There is a lot of THE BICYCLE THIEF in Benigni's LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and some obvious comparisons have been drawn because of the father-son relationship. They are worthy of comparison and have equal artistic prowess. What is different about THIEF is the level of intensity maintained throughout. I felt the key element was the music by Alessandro Cicognini, a simple horn that plays so tragically that it is a main character in the picture. What De Sica does here, as well as other neo-realist directors (Rossellini, Fellini), is create for American audiences a powerful counterpoint to what we are used to. An honest, non-corporate portrait of the struggle for life and self-respect. THE BICYCLE THIEF is one of the finest films ever made.
Vittorio De Sica's ground/heartbreaking motion picture, The Bicycle Thief, is based on a very simple ideal for a story- man against the elements. In this case the elements are of a society that is often cruel and unforgiving, and that a job in post-war Rome is looked on as the luckiest of good luck charms.
Such a man as presented by De Sica is Maggiorani (an actor who really is the type of actor right off the street), a father of a little boy who gets a job putting up movie posters along some walls in Rome. To do this he needs a bicycle, or the job will be lost, and he gets one following a pawning of linen sheets. Very soon though, the bicycle is stolen, and from there a sad downward spiral unravels for the man and his son as they scour the streets for the bicycle.
While the score adds basic dramatic tension, everything else on the screen is done to such a pitch of neo-realism it's at times shattering, joyful (scene in the pizzeria the most note-worthy), and with a feeling of day-to-day resonance to those who may have not even felt at or below the poverty level in their lives. Credit due to all parties involved, though I don't think the boy Bruno, played by Staiola, gets nearly enough considering his role as a minor coming of age (that moment after the father and son leave the church nearly brought tears to my eyes). A++
* The actors in the film were all amateurs. Vittorio De Sica decided not to use professionals.
* The one poster Ricci is putting up that we see in detail features Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946).
* Vittorio De Sica claimed he selected the actors for the characters of both Bruno and Antonio because of their walks.
* There's a scene later in the movie where Bruno is nearly run over twice while crossing the street. This was absolutely unrehearsed - it was filmed on location and the two cars happened to pass by at that time.
* Lead actor Lamberto Maggiorani really did struggle for work after this film was completed.
* Prospective producer David O. Selznick originally proposed casting Cary Grant as the lead. Vittorio De Sica countered with a request for Henry Fonda before deciding to cast all amateur actors.