A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
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
Lamberto Maggiorani was very shy and embarrassed throughout the shooting as he had no actor training or would often become anxious when he couldn't do what Vittorio De Sica wanted him to do. The director, however, did not coddle him because he knew Maggiorani's real anxiety and nervousness before the camera would work well for his on-screen character. De Sica would later praise Maggiorani, saying "The way he moved, the way he sat down, his gestures with his hands hardened from work, the hands of a working man, not of an actor...I made him promise that after the film he would forget the cinema and would go back to his job." But during the filming, De Sica would still send a black limousine to pick Maggiorani up and bring him to the day's location. See more »
Another one to add to my top 50- a delicate study of desperation in post war Italy
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++
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