Shoeshine

1946 | Drama/Italian Neorealism | 93 minutes | Italian with English subtitles

Info

Giuseppe and Pasquale are two friends who make ends meet by shining shoes in the streets of Rome. One day, Giuseppe’s older brother, Attilio, recruits the boys to sell black market blankets. The boys jump at the opportunity. They succeed in selling the blankets to a fortune-teller. With the money, they buy a horse. Riding into the city, both boys are arrested by the police and are accused of stealing a great deal of money from the fortune-teller. The money was actually stolen by Attilio and his accomplice Panza. The boys are tortured and told to reveal the names of the thieves. Giuseppe refuses. However, Pasquale cracks and reveals the names of Attilio and Panza. At the court hearing, they are both given a one-to-two-year prison sentence. The boys manage to escape. Giuseppe grabs Pasquale. He seeks revenge as he labels Pasquale a turncoat. Two good friends, one loyal and steadfast, the other a cowardly informer. What will happen to these unfortunate boys? Directed by Vittorio De Sica, a leading figure in the neorealist movement.  

Cast

Rinaldo Smordoni (Giuseppe) / Franco Interlenghi (Pasquale)

Why Stream This Film?
Orson Welles said the following after seeing Shoeshine: “In handling a camera I feel that I have no peer. But what De Sica can do, that I can’t do. The camera disappeared; the screen disappeared; it was just life.” Chances are viewers will feel the same way after seeing this heart-wrenching film.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
Accolades
  • Academy Awards: Honorary Award for Best Foreign Film

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SHOESHINE was intended as a furious and moving indictment of a postwar society, and a world in which such bad things could happen. It is all that, and more. It makes the oversimplified diagnosis and prescription of most social tracts look like so much complacent blueprint.
James Agee

TIME Magazine

SHOESHINE has a sweetness and a simplicity that suggest greatness of feeling, and this is so rare in film. If Mozart had written an opera set in poverty, it might have had this kind of painful beauty. SHOESHINE is a social protest film that rises above its purpose. It is one of those rare works of art which seems to emerge from the welter of human experience without smoothing away the raw edges.
Pauline Kael

The New Yorker

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