The Bicycle Thief

Drama / Italian Neorealism | In Italian with English subtitles | 93 minutes | 1948 | Often called Bicycle Thieves

Info
In war-torn Rome, jobs are very scarce. Antonio is lucky. He is offered a job posting advertising bills. However, the job requires the use of a bicycle, which Antonio owns, but it’s in hock. Antonio’s wife, Maria, digs into her hidden savings, finds enough money, and Antonio now has a bicycle. While putting up a poster (of Rita Hayworth, no less), a thief steals the bicycle. Antonio, totally bereft, now scours the neighborhood streets, alleys, even a bordello, searching for the thief, to no avail. Without a bicycle, Antonio can’t work and support his wife and son.The search leads to a heartbreaking conclusion. The actors playing Antonio and his son Bruno were not professional and were brilliantly directed by Vittorio De Sica.
Cast
Lamberto Maggiorani (Antonio) / Enzo Staiola (Bruno) / Lianella Carell (Maria)
Why Screen This Film?
This film will never be dated as long as there are desperate people needing jobs to support their families.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus) 98% 98%
Accolades
  • Honorary Academy Award, 1950- Outstanding Foreign Language Film.
  • SIGHT and SOUND Magazine, 1952- Greatest Film of All Time. 
  • National Board of Review- Best Director.
  • New York Film Critics Circle Awards- Best Foreign Language Film.

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THE BICYCLE THIEF is so well-entrenched as an official masterpiece that it is a little startling to visit it again after many years and realize that it is still alive and has strength and freshness. Routinely voted one of the greatest films of all time, revered as one of the foundation stones of Italian neorealism, it is a simple, powerful film about a man who needs a job.
Roger Ebert

RogerEbert.com

Neorealism never got more real than in Vittori De Sica’s 1948 classic, THE BICYCLE THIEF. For me, it is as unbearable as any horror film.
Peter Bradshaw

The Guardian

To see THE BICYCLE THIEF again is to experience what feels like a miracle. For this killer of a film not only hasn’t lost a step, it’s even more involving now than it was then, a singular emotional juggernaut that has the kind of unrestrained power contemporary films can only dream about. But just because the film cared about reality doesn’t mean it was slipshod or improvised. The film is beautifully photographed by Carlo Montuori, features a subtle score, and in De Sica had a director who put every scene together for maximum effectiveness. Seen from the perspective of today, it is the spareness and restraint of the film in general, and the performances in particular, that makes The BICYCLE THIEF such a powerful experience.
Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

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