20 user 45 critic

Miracle in Milan (1951)

Miracolo a Milano (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 17 December 1951 (USA)
1:52 | Trailer
An open hearted and unrelentingly energetic orphan struggles to make the best out of his life on the streets of Milan.


Vittorio De Sica


Cesare Zavattini (novel), Cesare Zavattini (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Emma Gramatica ... La vecchia Lolotta
Francesco Golisano Francesco Golisano ... Totò
Paolo Stoppa Paolo Stoppa ... Rappi
Guglielmo Barnabò Guglielmo Barnabò ... Mobbi
Brunella Bovo Brunella Bovo ... Edvige
Anna Carena ... Marta, la signora altezzosa
Alba Arnova Alba Arnova ... La statua che prende vita
Flora Cambi Flora Cambi ... L'innamorata infelice
Virgilio Riento Virgilio Riento ... Il sergente delle guardie
Arturo Bragaglia Arturo Bragaglia ... Alfredo
Erminio Spalla Erminio Spalla ... Gaetano
Riccardo Bertazzolo Riccardo Bertazzolo ... L'atleta
Checco Rissone Checco Rissone ... Il comandante in secondo (as Francesco Rissone)
Angelo Prioli Angelo Prioli ... Il comandante in primo


An old woman finds a baby among the cauliflowers in her garden. She takes care of the orphan, and calls him Totò. When she dies, he is sent to an orphanage, which he leaves as a teenager. When Totò goes out in the world, he expects everyone to be open-hearted as himself, but it isn't so. Without belongings and a place to live, he soon turns up among other homeless people, living scattered in boxes and cement pipes on a vast, barren field outside Milano. With his energy and enthusiasm Totò quickly engages the outcasts in transforming the place into a small shanty town. The eccentric misfits are turned into a warm-hearted community. But when the wealthy Mr. Mobbi buys the land he will try to get rid of the outcasts. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An impudent, riotous laugh on the lives and morals of our day! See more »


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In the early 1950s, Italy experienced an economic boom with many profiting from the improved circumstances. Ironically, however, there was also a disproportionate rise in the number still experiencing acute poverty. This film is Vittorio De Sica's attempt to address this disparity. See more »


Totò: Would you like the sun?
[Edvige nods, so Totó looks toward the horizon, where the sun comes up in a few seconds]
See more »


Referenced in Cesare Zavattini (2003) See more »

User Reviews

Entertaining Neo-Realist Fantasy with Brechtian Echoes
12 July 2016 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

MIRACLE IN MILAN has a straightforward plot: young Toto (Francesco Golisano) is discovered in a cabbage patch by an old woman (Emma Gramatica) who brings him up as her son. She passes away, and the boy is sent to an orphanage. Released from the institution as an adolescent, Toto embraces a positive view of life; and becomes involved in a large-scale project to set up a shanty-town on the outskirts of Milan. They fall foul of the landowner Mobbi (Guglielmo Barnabò) who tries every possible means to evict them using the police force, water-cannon, bullets and the like. Toto and his friends resist them with the help of the miracle suggested by the title and end up going to a possibly happier world.

Director Vittorio de Sica and his cinematographer G.R. Aldo capture the atmosphere of postwar Milan with its deserted streets, ruined buildings and outwardly cold population in the depths of winter. Horses and carts still run up and down the streets; cars are a rarity except among the filthy rich. Poverty is rife: many homeless people wander up and down ransacking the rubbish-heaps and making do with very little, even half-empty bottles of alcohol thrown to them from passing cars.

The distinction between rich and poor is highly pronounced, as one might expect from Cesare Zavattini, who rote the novel on which the film is based, as well as collaborating with de Sica. Yet MIRACLE IN MILAN differs from other de Sica movies in its use of quasi- Brechtian devices - for example, street signs changed into multiplication sums for the benefit of the street children, or obvious signs denoting the symbolic meaning of the shanty-town. The musical numbers (by Alessandro Cicognini) attest to a bright future for the poor; not that they need much. They would be happy with just a crust of bread and a roof over their heads.

Stylistically speaking the film has several antecedents, as well as the Italian neo-realist tradition. The sight of the shanty-town residents marching triumphantly down their streets singing about their dreams recalls British musicals such as SING AS WE GO (1934), as well as the better-known Depression-era Hollywood musicals like 42nd STREET (1933). The group ethic that binds Toto and his friends together has further British antecedents in PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949), another comedy set in the bomb-damaged wastes of a big city.

MIRACLE IN MILAN is a highly entertaining piece with an upbeat ending, drawing our attention to community values as well as placing our trust in our families. There are some good jokes at the expense of the bourgeois Mobbi, including one where he and his co- conspirator are reduced to barking at one another like a pair of unruly dogs. De Sica's social criticisms are as applicable today as they were sixty-plus years ago; one can only hope that people experiencing similar privations will be as optimistic about their future as Toto.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 20 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





Italian | English

Release Date:

17 December 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Miracle in Milan See more »

Filming Locations:

Duomo, Milan, Lombardia, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed