Ricci, an unemployed man in the depressed post-WWII economy of Italy, gets at last a good job - for which he needs a bike - hanging up posters. But soon his bicycle is stolen. He and his son walk the streets of Rome, looking for the bicycle. Ricci finally manages to locate the thief but with no proof, he has to abandon his cause. But he and his son know perfectly well that without a bike, Ricci won't be able to keep his job. Written by
Vittorio De Sica still hadn't found the ideal actor to play Bruno when filming began. It was while he was shooting the scene in which Antonio searches for his friend who can help him locate the bike that fate intervened. "I was telling Maggiorani something," he recalled, "when I turned around in annoyance at the onlookers who were crowding around me, and saw an odd-looking child with a round face, a big funny nose and wonderful lively eyes. Saint Gennaro has sent him to me, I thought. It was proof of the fact that everything was turning out right." And so little Enzo Staiola was hired on the spot to play Bruno. See more »
There's not much that can be said about "The Bicycle Thief" that hasn't already been expressed. It is considered a great work of the Italian cinema, and looking at it in its 1999 release version, one can see why.
Structurally, it's a theme and variations, with such a simple, clearly stated main motif that one can identify and follow its mutations with no effort. DeSica is clearly the fine craftsman here, directing every scene with a beautiful sense of control and balance.
His work with young Enzo Staiola (as Bruno) is especially commendable, and he allows then nonprofessionals Lamberto Maggiorani (as Antonio) and Lianella Carell (as Marie) to act in a model of naturalism.
Carlo Montuori's photography is brilliant, and Antonio Traverso's production design is pungent and atmospheric. Like most "masterpieces," a film-classic score provides emotional depth in a subliminal way: here it's a romantic, Italianesque original composition by Aessandro Cicognini wraps up the entire production.
DeSica's career is most impressive, being involved in nealy 200 films, 165 of them as an actor. This film remains one of his greatest achievements. It seems to be standing the test of time very nicely, too. It's been criticized, sometimes quite severely, and just continues to bounce back, winning new admirers with each reissue. The public just won't let "The Bicycle Thief" fade away. That alone tends to override any negative factors. It looks like this film is going to be around for quite a while. ###
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