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Shoeshine (1946)
"Sciuscià (Ragazzi)" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  26 August 1947 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 3,709 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 34 critic

Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.

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Title: Shoeshine (1946)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Franco Interlenghi ...
Rinaldo Smordoni ...
Annielo Mele ...
Raffaele
Bruno Ortenzi ...
Arcangeli
Emilio Cigoli ...
Staffera
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Storyline

At a track near Rome, shoeshine boys are watching horses run. Two of the boys, the orphan Pasquale and his younger friend Giuseppe, 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, to 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. Written by David Carless

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Un milagro como no conoció el cine en los 50 años de su historia! [Spanish poster.]

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

26 August 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shoeshine  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title is a Napulitan corruption of the English word "shoe-shiner." See more »

Quotes

Giuseppe Filippucci: Whoever invented the elevator is a genius.
Pasquale Maggi: Tell me about it. I slept in one for three months.
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Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant and Heartwrenching Film by a Brilliant Filmmaker
27 October 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just two years before Vittorio De Sica changed the world with The Bicycle Thieves (1948), the universally famous actor/director made a small, simple and beautiful movie by the name of Shoeshine (1946). Taking place in war ravaged Italy, the film features the stories of two young shoeshine boys who are tasked with delivering black market goods and get caught in a web of intrigue. Once they are caught by the police, their friendship is challenged when they're sent to an overcrowded boy's penitentiary.

The majority of the film takes place in the penitentiary where the two boys (Franco Interlenghi and Rinaldo Smordoni) are separated from each other almost instantly. Forced into separate cells each holding five boys, they become the center of their own maelstroms when one mistakenly betrays the other. I won't ruin the whole picture other than mentioning that the main source of motivation early on is a horse they bought together.

The period sets the tone for the film. Despite a bouncy score that highlights every small victory experienced by the characters, the lack of sustenance and poor conditions of life in and out of the penitentiary keeps things gloomy. The boys eat gruel which the warden calls "passable", medical help is slow and ineffective and beds are riddled with lice. Even one of the more kind-hearted superiors finds objection to the state of things. Yet at one point one of the boys calls his new home "paradise" because of its only slightly better living standard than sleeping in an elevator.

The film is considered one of the first Italian neorealist works which would leave an indelible mark on Italian cinema and movies worldwide. The form contends with economic hardship and moral denigration as a canvas. Many times they would shoot in and around the streets of Italian cities and even hire non-professional actors to intensify the realism. Often this was for practical reasons. The aftermath of World War Two left the film industry (previously under the close watch of Mussolini) unable to maintain their studios.

The Bicycle Thieves stands as the pinnacle of Italian neo-realism but for my money Shoeshine is the better movie. Both stories are quite compelling but from an outsider's perspective, the multiple Italian customs and the research required to understand them are much more-a- plenty in Bicycle Thieves. Additionally the main characters of Shoeshine are children no older than twelve. While in many cases this would be a slight when comparing one movie to another, the actors in Shoeshine act much more authentically to their predicament. There is one scene where the boys trot a horse down the street as the other shoeshine boys either cheer in zeal, or jeer in jealousy. They preen and strut like they're the talk of the town, the belle of the ball, or to put another way; two poor kids with a horse. How can you not smile at that image?

There is a famous review of Shoeshine by the famous Pauline Kael where she mentions a "… petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, 'well, I don't see what was so special about that movie.'" She then claimed alienation from those who could not experience "the radiance of Shoeshine." In many ways I feel the same about it. If you're not effected by De Sica's first classic then you're not fully human.

http://theyservepopcorninhell.blogspot.com/


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