On a street, Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) stands with a crowd of unemployed family men, all hands-up and crying for a job. The only job available requires a bicycle and though he doesn't have one, Ricci quickly raises his hand announcing that he has such a bike. By selling the sheets off his bed, Ricci and his son Bruno (Gino Saltamerenda) are able to procure a hocked bike from a local pawn shop. And so, the man and his boy go off on their job: Pasting large posters to walls around the city. Ricci is not far into his workday when the bicycle, out of his eyeline, is stolen. Ricci and Bruno spend the rest of the day trying to catch the thief and win back employment and a better life.
Continue reading: Bicycle Thieves Review
The title alone is a serious guilt trip, De Sica's condemnation of immoral adult behavior that ends up damaging the innocent children who inevitably suffer the consequences of Mom and Dad's bad decisions. In this case, the adorable victim is five-year-old Prico (Luciano De Ambrosis), a wide-eyed only child who revels in the adoration of his parents (Emilio Cigoli and Isa Pola) and his nanny. Though it's wartime, Prico is insulated from the world outside until one day, on a walk in the park, his mother slips behind a tree and chats with a strange man (Adriano Rimoldi).
Continue reading: The Children Are Watching Us Review
Shot four years after his famous The Bicycle Thief, De Sica returns to his roots with a vengeance. No longer content to put a lower-class laborer into an even deeper hellhole, this time the melodramatic director gives us a dying old man, his dog, and a pregnant maid, none of whom are destined for futures we'd describe as happy. Old man Umberto (played by non-actor Carlo Battisti; none of the cast in the film are pros) is so poor is landlady rents out his room during the day to prostitutes to help with the bills. (It's just as well; he's looking for someone to take his puppy so he can off himself.)
Continue reading: Umberto D. Review
Clark Gable (at 59, in his second-to-last film appearance) and Sophia Loren (only 26, but appearing far older) romance it up in this vaguely creepy setup: Gable plays an American lawyer who travels to Italy to tend to the estate of his dead brother. Turns out bro's son (the mononymous Marietto) is now in the care of an aunt (Loren), who doesn't know much about child-rearing but who obviously cares for the child. Distrust and miscommunication eventually turn into romance.
Continue reading: It Started In Naples Review
Shot in 1953 in Italy, Vittorio De Sica crafted a film writ small about two unlikely lovers: a married American woman (Jennifer Jones) with a child and an Italian local (Montgomery Clift, badly miscast). What we see in this film, which takes place nearly in real time, is not their love affair, but rather her attempt to depart for her trip home, stuck in the titular station with a crisis of conscience: stick around with the hot flame or return to the family in the U.S. Strangely, the drama doesn't really come from the woman's indecision over whether to leave, rather the pair find themselves arrested when they take refuge in a train car. I guess the Italian police don't take kindly to such behavior -- the cop, after much haranguing, even decrees that they will have to stand trial for their crimes!
Continue reading: Terminal Station Review
Continue reading: Two Women Review