At a track near Rome, shoeshine boys are watching horses run. Two of the boys Pasquale, an orphan, and Giuseppe, his younger friend are riding. The pair have been saving to buy a horse of their own to ride...
The boys meet Attilio, Giuse's much older brother, and his shady friend at a boat on the Tiber. In return for a commission, the boys agree to deliver black market goods to a fortune-teller. Once the woman has paid, Attilio's gang suddenly arrives. Pretending to be cops, they shake the woman down. With a payoff from Attilio, the boys are able to make the final payment and stable their horse in Trastevere over the river...
The fortune-teller identifies Pasqua and Giuse. Held at an overcrowded boys' prison, they are separated. Giuse falls under the influence of an older lad in his cell, Arcangeli. During interrogation, Pasqua is tricked into betraying Giuse's brother to the police.
With their trial still in the future, the two friends are driven further apart...
This film is one of my favourites from Italy and is usually ranked among the best films of all time. Highly recommended!
Franco Interlenghi ... Pasquale Maggi
Rinaldo Smordoni ... Giuseppe Filippucci
Annielo Mele ... Raffaele
Bruno Ortenzi ... Arcangeli
Emilio Cigoli ... Staffera
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Nominated for Oscar
Codecs: XVid / AC3
Subtitles: English / Chinese (Simp) / Chinese (Trad) / Italian
Since I enrolled in International Cinema at my university, I've had the opportunity to see classic foreign films in the theatre, and it's really opened me up to the genre. I'd have to say that this movie (Shoeshine, in English) struck me as one of the most powerful I've seen yet, a sad, bleak commentary on children's lives in postwar Italy. Shoeshine dealswith a pair of children living on the street, best friends who shine shoes for a living and whose greatest dream is to buy a horse, something they could actually take care of and call their own. Pasquale, the older boy, and Giuseppe, the younger, are drawn into a situation they don't quite understand the weight of. Not knowing that the Italian society is chaotic after the war (when children under ten years old are put into prison for crimes like vagrancy), Pasquale and Giuseppe are coerced into doing a favor for Giuseppe's brother, Attilio Filipucci -- they are to bring and sell smuggled American blankets to a lady fortune-teller for the Filipucci family's profit.
Without warning, police appear at the fortune-teller's house, and question her. The boys are paid not to say anything, and are paid just enough to pool their money and buy the horse. Unfortunately, the fortune-teller has the boys taken from the street and into police custody, where, though claiming not to know anything, are fingerprinted and thrown into a juvenile prison. The prison and events that occur in it force the best friends apart, and the previously light-hearted story turns ugly. The boys' environment corrupts them, and innocence is quickly lost.
Directed by the famous Vittorio De Sica, and with Cesare Zavattini doing his trademark poetic screenplay, Shoeshine definitely deserves its place as one of the first foreign films to with the Oscar of the same name. The Neo-realist De Sica does include some comic relief in the movie, and it's not all serious and depressing... The line from Giuseppe to Pasquale as they're walking up a flight of stairs, "Elevators sure are great," and Pasquale's answer of "Yes, I slept in one for quite a while," is one example.
To say any more would give away the story, and you simply must experience this classic for yourselves.
Honestly speaking I watch movies based on their ratings and IMDb is one site that I rely on (despite the fact that many good movies are underrated; anyway I suppose it is because movies are subjective) and if I find any movie rated 8 and above I would just die to watch them. One of that kind is Vittorio De Sica's The shoeshine and not just because it was rated 8 and above, but also for the movie being a European product.
Unlike American movies most of the European movies have close ends rather open ends which make them phenomenal. Now let me tell you why 'The shoeshine' is phenomenal. After having seen the movies Umberto D, Bicycle thief and The Shoeshine(the third movie of De Sica which I watched) it became evident to me that the narrative is spun around the characters (emphasising on the dimensions of the character)where there is a transformation of the character from being vibrant to becoming docile or vice-versa and the like. This can be encountered in all the three movies which I have stated above. Say it be the Father and the son in The Bicycle thief or the old man and the dog in Umberto D or the two boys in The shoeshine.
Vittorio De Sica grew up in Naples, and started out as an office clerk in order to raise money to support his poor family. He was increasingly drawn towards acting, and made his screen debut while still in his teens, joining a stage company in 1923. By the late 1920s he was a successful matinee idol of the Italian theatre, and repeated that achievement in Italian films, mostly light comedies.
He turned to directing in 1940, making comedies in a similar vein, but with his fifth film 'The Children Are Watching Us' (1942), he revealed hitherto unsuspected depths and an extraordinarily sensitive touch with actors, especially children. It was also the first film he made with the writer Cesare Zavattini with whom he would subsequently make 'Shoeshine' (1946) and 'Bicycle Thieves' (1948), heartbreaking studies of poverty in postwar Italy which won special Oscars before the foreign film category was officially established.
After the box-office disaster of 'Umberto D.' (1951), a relentlessly bleak study of the problems of old age, he returned to directing lighter work, appearing in front of the camera more frequently. Although 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' won him another Oscar, it was generally accepted that his career as one of the great directors was over.
However, just before he died he made 'The Garden of the Finzi-Continis' (1971), a powerful study of anti-Semitism in Fascist Italy, which won him yet another Oscar, and his final film 'A Brief Vacation' (1973). He died following the removal of a cyst from his lungs.