9. The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Directed by Vittorio De Sica

Produced by Giuseppe Amato

Written by Vittorio De Sica, Cesare Zavattin, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Gerardo  Guerreri, Oresto Brancoli and Adolfo Franci

Starring: LAmberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell & Vittorio Antonuca

Country: Italy

Release date: November 24, 1948

Running time: 93 minutes

Why you should see it? 

Ladri di biciclette (a.k.a. The bicycle thief or Bicycles Thieves) is an Italian neo-realist film. This film was shot in only one location in Rome and  instead of professional actor De Sica used non actors with no training.

The film is a simple and powerful story of a man who needs a job, the screenplay is based in Luigi Bartolini’s book of the same name. This is a really heartbreaking story, and for me is the saddest movie ever, but still humanity glows in it even through the misery and dispair.

This movie is truly a jewel of the post- war Italian neo-realism, rejecting the illusory glamour and artificiality of film making in order to reflect the true of the Italy of the time.

And at last the touching relationship between father and son is incredible authentic that at the same time increase the feeling of desperation as the kid loss his innocense


Antonio Ricci is an unemployed man in the depressed post-World War II economy of Italy. With a wife and two children to support, he is desperate for work. He is delighted to at last get a good job pasting up posters, but he has to have a bicycle. He is told unequivocally, “No bicycle, no job.” His wife Maria pawns their bedsheets in order to get money to redeem his bicycle from the pawnbroker.

On his first day of work, Antonio’s bicycle is stolen by a young thief, who snatches it when he is putting up a poster. Antonio gives chase, but to no avail. He goes to the police, but there is little they can do. The only option is for Antonio, his young son Bruno, and his friends to walk the streets of Rome themselves, looking for the bicycle. After trying for hours with no luck, they finally give up.

During a rare treat of a meal in a restaurant, Antonio shares his shattered dreams with his son. Desperate, Antonio even visits the dubious fortune teller that he had earlier mocked. However, she merely doles out to him the vague and unhelpful, “you’ll find the bike quickly, or not at all.” Antonio hands over some money and leaves.

As he walks out of the clairvoyant’s house, he encounters the thief and chases him into a whorehouse. Antonio takes the thief outside and is set upon by the hostile neighbours. Bruno slips off to fetch a policeman. Antonio meanwhile, angrily accuses the thief of stealing his bike, but the young man denies it. When the policeman arrives, the thief is lying on the ground, having or feigning a seizure. The irate neighbours blame Antonio for causing the “innocent” boy’s fit.

The policeman tells Antonio that his case is weak; he did not catch the thief red-handed, nor did he get the names of any witnesses, and the policeman is certain the neighbours will give the thief an alibi. Antonio gives up and walks away in despair, to the jeers of the crowd.

Sitting on the curb outside a packed football stadium, Antonio sees hundreds and hundreds of parked bicycles. As he cradles his head in despair, a fleet of bicycles speeds past him. After vacillating for some time, he tries to steal one outside an apartment. However, he is caught by a crowd of angry men who slap and humiliate him in front of his son. The bicycle’s owner sees how upset Bruno is and mercifully declines to press charges. Antonio and his son walk away, dejected.



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