Umberto Ferrari, aged government-pensioner, attends a street demonstration held by his fellow pensioners. The police dispense the crowd and Umberto returns to his cheap furnished room which he shares with his dog Flick. Umberto's lone friend is Maria, servant of the boarding house. She is a simple girl who is pregnant by one of two soldiers and neither will admit to being the father. When Umberto's landlady Antonia demands the rent owed her and threatens eviction if she is not paid, Umberto tries desperately to raise the money by selling his books and watch. He is too proud to beg in the streets and can not get a loan from any of his acquaintances. He contracts a sore throat, is admitted to a hospital and this puts a delay on his financial difficulty. Discharged, he finds that his dog is gone and, following a frantic search, locates him in the city dog pound. His room has been taken over by the landlady and the now-homeless Unberto determines to find a place for his beloved dog, and then kill himself. Unsuccessful, he resolves that his dog must die with him and he stands in the path of a train, with his dog in his arms. —Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie from director Vittoria de Sica is a heartbreaking story of a destitute pensioner named Umberto Ferrari and his pet dog. The pensioner cannot bring himself to tell anyone of his difficult existence or to ask for help. Set in post-war Italy of the 1940's and 50's, the neo-realist movies of this period with their on-location shooting show the grinding poverty of many people at the time. With this vivid background, we see some very tender moments in the story that illustrate the bond between the man and his dog. We also get a sense of the mood in Rome at the start as police break up a protest by pensioners fighting for a decent income. Other scenes take the viewer into a hospital where patients recite the Rosary from their beds, have lunch at a pasta diner and go home to a walk-up apartment. With Umberto pitted against his cold-hearted landlady, we see how his life is made almost unbearable. In fact, the movie is very sensitive in its depiction of this man, one of many elderly people who were by themselves with little money. In this case, the elderly man, played by Carlo Battista, has a reason for living because of his canine companion. De Sica used amateur actors and Battista was a university professor in Florence who has captured the essence of his character. De Sica made his mark as the foremost director of the neo-realist school of cinema and as an accomplished character actor in his own right. I noticed the dedication to Umberto DeSica, who was apparently his father. In this film, DeSica has certainly produced an outstanding work of art about the plight of one aged citizen in a particular time and place. Thanks to TCM for its recent showing this neo-realist classic.
- Mar 2, 2017
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