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The Children Are Watching Us (1944)

I bambini ci guardano (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 25 April 1947 (USA)
A four-year old boy, Pricò, becomes the subject of emotional folly by his fluctuant parents and inattentive relatives.


Vittorio De Sica


Cesare Giulio Viola (novel), Cesare Giulio Viola (screenplay) | 5 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Emilio Cigoli Emilio Cigoli ... Andrea - il padre
Luciano De Ambrosis Luciano De Ambrosis ... Pricò
Isa Pola ... Nina - la madre
Adriano Rimoldi ... Roberto - l'amante di Nina
Giovanna Cigoli Giovanna Cigoli ... Agnese - la governante
Jone Frigerio Jone Frigerio ... La nonna (as Ione Frigerio)
Maria Gardena Maria Gardena ... La signora Uberti
Dina Perbellini Dina Perbellini ... Zia Berelli
Nicoletta Parodi Nicoletta Parodi ... Giuliana
Tecla Scarano Tecla Scarano ... La signora Resta
Ernesto Calindri Ernesto Calindri ... Claudio
Olinto Cristina Olinto Cristina ... Il rettore - The Chancellor
Mario Gallina Mario Gallina ... Il medico
Zaira La Fratta Zaira La Fratta ... Paolina
Armando Migliari Armando Migliari ... Il commendatore


The film follows the anguish of the four-year-old, Prico, after his mother, Nina, leaves his father, Andrea, for her lover Roberto. Prico is sent to his aunt and then to his grandmother. Nina returns when Prico is sick and vows to give up Roberto, even though he persists in seeing her. The family situation gradually improves until they take a holiday on the Italian Riviera. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The tragic story of a boy of unhappy parents and his struggle for happiness! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 April 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Little Martyr See more »

Filming Locations:

Piazza Zama, Roma RM, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (1980)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #323. See more »


Featured in Fejezetek a film történetéböl: A neorealizmus (1990) See more »


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User Reviews

Adults Behave Badly in The Children are Watching Us
9 January 2008 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

Before his historical foray into neorealism Vittorio De Sica made this melodramatic tear jerker about a child witnessing the break-up of his parent's marriage in 1942 Italy. As in Shoeshine and Bicycle Thief he employs a child as the major protagonist and shoots most of the film from the boy's point of view. Prico is the only child of a comparatively well off family who along with a housekeeper dotes on him. The father, Andre holds a good job and is without vice. His mother, Nina, is also nurturing but caught up in a passionate affair with Roberto an impetuous lover whose selfish actions are all the more grotesque from Prico's vantage point. When Nina runs off with Roberto, Andreas quietly suffers the humiliation and pain in order to protect his son at any price. Eventually Nina returns and the family begins to heal together but Roberto re-enters the picture where once again Nina's role as mother and wife are challenged.

Considering the era and place (Fascist Italy) The Children are Watching Us is an audacious film for its time. What separates it from similar formulaic tepid melodramas of the period is De Sica's decision to arrange it around the child's subjective viewpoint and to have the infidelity occur with the mother. The father straying would almost be a cliché but the mother of a young child would make it absolutely scandalous. Along the way De Sica also skewers petite bourgeois hypocrisy and the idle class with a parade of nosy neighbors and lascivious vacationers.

Like most of De Sica's finer works, Children has a highly emotional ending that packs quite a wallop. Still, I must admit to a class snobbery in my clear cut preference for the underclass neo-realist works with their distressed socio-economic situation, marginal characters and their day to day survival shot amid the ruins of post war Italy. But even with all the benefits of the privileged child, Prico's painful experience is conveyed in the same stylistic subjectivity of jump cuts and revealing tracking shots that give the neorealist works their form and much of their power. They may be a rung up on the economic ladder but it does not ameliorate their tragic circumstance.

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