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.
Under provincial Italian law at the time, once a roof is erected, the occupants cannot be evicted from a building. This comedy follows the efforts of a family to erect the roof on a house ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
Mussolini's Italy, late 1930s: the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading wealthy Jewish families. Their adult children gather friends for tennis and parties at their lovely grounds, with the... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
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
The title is a Napulitan corruption of the English word "shoe-shiner." See more »
[as the film projector is being set up in the boys' prison]
In here they feed us, they shelter us, they give us clothes, and they even entertain us. What else could we want? This is paradise!
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Some USA video editions are edited to suppress the full nudity in the shower scene and to minimize the subsequent fist fight between two boys. See more »
Heartwrenching commentary on impoverished children's lives, on friendship, corruption and betrayal
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. My rating: 9/10.
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