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Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Ladri di biciclette (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 13 December 1949 (USA)
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In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

Director:

Vittorio De Sica

Writers:

Cesare Zavattini (story), Luigi Bartolini (novel) | 7 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #99 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lamberto Maggiorani ... Antonio
Enzo Staiola ... Bruno
Lianella Carell Lianella Carell ... Maria
Elena Altieri Elena Altieri ... The Charitable Lady
Gino Saltamerenda Gino Saltamerenda ... Baiocco
Giulio Chiari Giulio Chiari ... The Beggar
Vittorio Antonucci Vittorio Antonucci ... The Thief
Michele Sakara Michele Sakara ... Secretary of the Charity Organization
Fausto Guerzoni Fausto Guerzoni ... Amateur Actor
Emma Druetti Emma Druetti
Carlo Jachino Carlo Jachino ... A Beggar
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Storyline

Ricci, an unemployed man in the depressed post-WWII economy of Italy, gets at last a good job - for which he needs a bike - hanging up posters. But soon his bicycle is stolen. He and his son walk the streets of Rome, looking for the bicycle. Ricci finally manages to locate the thief but with no proof, he has to abandon his cause. But he and his son know perfectly well that without a bike, Ricci won't be able to keep his job. Written by jolusoma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

thief | theft | despair | church | chase | See All (215) »

Taglines:

The Prize Picture They Want to Censor!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

13 December 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bicycle Thieves See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$133,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,845, 4 October 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$36,818, 31 December 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lamberto Maggiorani was very shy and embarrassed throughout the shooting as he had no actor training or would often become anxious when he couldn't do what Vittorio De Sica wanted him to do. The director, however, did not coddle him because he knew Maggiorani's real anxiety and nervousness before the camera would work well for his on-screen character. De Sica would later praise Maggiorani, saying "The way he moved, the way he sat down, his gestures with his hands hardened from work, the hands of a working man, not of an actor...I made him promise that after the film he would forget the cinema and would go back to his job." But during the filming, De Sica would still send a black limousine to pick Maggiorani up and bring him to the day's location. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Antonio Ricci: Baiocchi. You've got to help me. I've got to get my bike back.
Baiocco: Easier said than done.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Heartfelt Drama of Post WWII Poverty a Must-See...
16 April 1999 | by Don-102See all my reviews

The Italian neo-realist film movement began around the end of WWII with Roberto Rossellini's OPEN CITY in 1946. It is defined and encapsulated by this striking film directed by Vittorio De Sica. THE BICYCLE THIEF is the best of a group of films that depicted the hardship and despair that Europeans, specifically Italians, went through after the death and destruction of the war. The economy was horrible, and the towns and cities were half-destroyed and decaying. Rome is the location for THE BICYCLE THIEF and De Sica shoots the city in grainy black and white with non-professional actors to get a simple, yet unbearingly emotional point across. A simple thing such as a bike can be someone's entire world at that time and losing it means doing something irrational or perhaps necessary.

The lead in the film is played by Lamberto Maggiorani who seems to be a very good actor. He is not an actor, however, and maybe this is why the film hits its mark so well and comes across so realistically. Maggiorani is of this difficult world and his brooding face is a clear indication of this. His job is to plaster film posters up on the walls of buildings all over Rome. He even hangs a picture that symbolizes the absolute opposite of the misery surrounding him. Rita Hayworth from GILDA is on the walls all over the city, a sign of joy to some, a representation of their own lowly status to others.

When the bicycle is actually stolen, the "title" character is sought after by Maggiorani and his young son (Enzo Staiola), a little kid with so much acting ability, you swear this must be a documentary. A grueling search throughout Rome has the essential parts of the movie, because we see up close the actual people and places the neo-realist film movement came to represent. It is a small, sad world they live in and the bike has to be found so that they can live. The father is put to the ultimate test in front of his son. Will he do the honorable thing or will he do what his mind and heart know is only possible? These are the tense moments of the film's climax.

There is a lot of THE BICYCLE THIEF in Benigni's LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL and some obvious comparisons have been drawn because of the father-son relationship. They are worthy of comparison and have equal artistic prowess. What is different about THIEF is the level of intensity maintained throughout. I felt the key element was the music by Alessandro Cicognini, a simple horn that plays so tragically that it is a main character in the picture. What De Sica does here, as well as other neo-realist directors (Rossellini, Fellini), is create for American audiences a powerful counterpoint to what we are used to. An honest, non-corporate portrait of the struggle for life and self-respect. THE BICYCLE THIEF is one of the finest films ever made.

RATING: 10 of 10


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