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aka - Bicycle Thief, The / Ladri di Biciclette
Italy 1948
Directed by
Vittorio de Sica
93 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Bicycle Thieves

Probably the most famous of Italian neo-realist films, De Sica's story, based on a novel by Luigi Bartolini, tells of the travails of a poor unemployed labourer, Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani, in real-life a steelworker. American backers at one stage had proposed Cary Grant in the lead but wisely, de Sica refused), as he tries to support his family in the straitened circumstances of post-war Italy.

Although typical enough of the style somewhat tendentious in its heart-string-tugging depiction of the good, simple working class man, undoubtedly the film movingly captures the pathos and desperation of anyone caught in a comparable position. Wonderfully photographed by Carlo Montuori and with a fine job done by its cast of non-professional actors (including Enzo Staipla as the child) it won a special Academy Award in 1949, before the category of Best Foreign Film was created, its sincere humanism carrying the day. Ironically in Europe it was seen in a more starkly political Left light (it was co-scripted by Cesare Zavattini who was a member of the Italian Communist party).

DVD Extras: That's Life!, a documentary on De Sica's career; Theatrical trailer

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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