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The Icicle Thief (1989)
"Ladri di saponette" (original title)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 748 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 7 critic

A movie resembling Bicycle Thieves (1948) is shown on TV, but the real-life world gets muddled with the film and the TV commercials.

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Title: The Icicle Thief (1989)

The Icicle Thief (1989) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Himself / Antonio Piermattei
Caterina Sylos Labini ...
Maria Piermattei
Federico Rizzo ...
Bruno Piermattei
Renato Scarpa ...
Don Italo
Heidi Komarek ...
The Model
Carlina Torta ...
TV-watching Mother
Massimo Sacilotto ...
TV-watching Father
Claudio G. Fava ...
Himself
Lella Costa ...
TV Secretary
Marco Zannoni ...
TV Technician
Anna Maria Torniai ...
TV Sewer
Clara Droetto ...
TV Makeup Artist
Ernesto Calindri ...
Himself
Matteo Auguardi ...
Paolo Piermattei
Salvatore Landolina ...
Sergeant
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Storyline

The director Maurizio Nichetti is invited by a TV studio to introduce a screening of his best-known film, the neo-realist classic 'Ladri di saponette'. But Nichetti is horrified to discover that his black-and-white tale of life in poverty is constantly interrupted by garish colour commercials, and even more horrified when a power cut in the studio causes film and commercials to be mixed up -a glamorous model finds herself in the arms of an unemployed pauper, while his wife finds herself in consumer heaven. So Nichetti has to break into the film to try to sort everything out Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

24 August 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Icicle Thief  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$1,231,622 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie makes extensive references to Bicycle Thieves (1948), starting with the title. This is done through a movie within the movie, sharing the same title and also using characters resembling those from the older film in name and appearance. "Ladri di Biciclette" means "The Bicycle Thieves"; while that is sometimes used as an English title, it is better known as "The Bicycle Thief". The Italian title of this newer movie, "Ladri di saponette", is a play on "Ladri di Biciclette"; it means "The Soap Thieves", and this apparently refers to the dialogue where Maria tells Bruno not to use up all the soap when washing his hands, remarking to Antonio that he must be eating it. The English title of the newer movie, "The Icicle Thief", has no relation to the Italian title but instead is a play on "The Bicycle Thief". It is tied to the movie through three lines of dialogue referring to chandeliers (one of them stolen during the movie) so sparkly they look "like icicles" - but this word occurs only in the English subtitles! The corresponding Italian dialogue does not use the word "ghiaccioli" meaning icicles at all. It refers to other sparkly objects: twice to "pèrle" meaning pearls, and once to "gocce" meaning drops of water. See more »

Quotes

Film Director: Where's the bicycle?
Bruno Piermattei: I sold it.
Film Director: Sold it? But with those bicycle wheels, you were supposed to make a wheelchair for your paralyzed father.
Bruno Piermattei: My father's quite well.
Film Director: Too bad! He should have been hit by a truck while riding home from the factory with the chandelier on the handlebars and your mommy should be whoring to feed the family.
Bruno Piermattei: What's that?
Film Director: You wouldn't know. You're too little. You and your brother should be in the orphanage.
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Connections

Referenced in Serial Mom (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Original and misinterpreted
25 December 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This offbeat Italian comedy uses the familiar black and white/color dichotomy to indicate different worlds, a technique always in danger of being overdone. Last time I saw it was in Hollywood's Pleasantville (1998) where it was so cloying it annoyed; the first time magically in The Wizard of Oz (1939). It was even done (to good effect) in Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993). Here the "film" is in black and white (as it's being shown on TV) and the commercials are in color. The characters bizarrely go from one "world" to the other while somewhere in between is the "real" world of TV viewers. Because the world of TV commercials is the more fantastic, I think the technique works well here.

Maurizio Nichetti, who might (and might not) remind you of Roberto Benigni, stars as Anotonio Piermattei, the icicle thief, the protagonist of the movie within a movie, which is a Bicycle Thief-like tragic film that the TV people manage to mangle into a TV-like romantic comedy. (If you're wondering how one can be an icicle thief, keep wondering. I'll never tell.) Nichetti also plays the auteur of the film being shown on TV who is invited to be interviewed but never gets to speak partly because the film critic who is to do the interview thinks they are viewing a different film.

The title notwithstanding, this is not a satire or a "spoof" of Vittorio De Sica's internationally acclaimed The Bicycle Thief (1948), although De Sica himself might be seen as being lightly satirized. Nichetti's The Icicle Thief is more like an identification as it attempts to stand with the art film solidly against commercialism. However any similarity between the film within a film here and De Sica's masterpiece is sycophantic. This is not to say that The Icicle Thief does not have its moments and its charm. It does.

Caterina Sylos Labini who plays Maria, Antonio Piermattei's singing wife, is charming as the archetypical Italian femme fatale, a dark, lusty, earthy woman who can cry and laugh at the drop of a hat. She is contrasted with Heidi Komarck, a colorized blonde model in a butch haircut who does TV commercials. Komarck looks like a member of the Swedish ski team draped in a lingerie outfit that leaves little to the imagination while speaking only American English. My favorite part of the film was the cute shtick with Maria's happy one-year-old daughter who crawls continually into mischief (grabbing a knife by the blade, putting an electric wire in her mouth, etc.) but somehow never has to shed a tear.

That this is a satire and spoof of TV (and not De Sica's Bicycle Thief or old-time neo-realism itself) is immediately apparent when the TV film critic has to ask the name of the film he is critiquing. On TV the only things that really matter are the commercials. So, to the extent that a "Big Big" candy bar jingle and a laundry detergent superhero triumph over a black and white neo-realistic film, we can see that triumph as a satire of television and its middle-brow audience.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


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