The Bicycle Thief (1949)

The Bicycle Thief

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

This movie had tremendous influence on the development of Italian neorealist cinema and is considered one of the best films ever made. The simple but riveting story centers on the desperate search of an impoverished Roman bill poster for the man who stole his much-needed bicycle.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio De Sica, Oreste Biancoli, Adolfo Franci, Suso Cecchi d'Amico
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 8, 1998
Runtime:
ENIC

Cast


as Antonio Ricci

as Bruno Ricci

as Maria Ricci

as The Fortune Teller

as The Doctor

as Amateur Actor
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Bicycle Thief

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (12)

The work of screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, director Vittorio De Sica, the nonprofessional actors, and many others is so charged with a common purpose that there's no point in even trying to separate their achievements.

Full Review… | January 14, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Undeniably the most important neorealist film after Rossellini's Open City.

Full Review… | January 14, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

De Sica carefully balances a generally tragic sensibility with a quiet undercurrent of hope, all the while sucking us into the story with the sheer urgency of the search for a stolen bicycle.

Full Review… | November 18, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

The picture is a pure exercise in directorial virtuosity.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

This film manages to appeal to the better angels of our nature in a way that only deepens as we grow older along with the film.

Full Review… | January 7, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

It's a title you simply must watch, not necessarily for the truths it packs but rather for the bombed-out buildings of postwar Italy, peripheral details that director Vittorio De Sica insisted on.

Full Review… | November 4, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Bicycle Thief

A wonderful gem of Italian neorealism - humorous and profoundly touching - that has earned its long-lasting reputation as an indisputable classic for its powerful social statement, and it is never sentimental but very honest and heartbreaking.

blacksheepboy
Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

This neo-surrealist Italian masterpiece from filmmaker Vittorio de Sica is a classic by many standards and remains one of the top films of the century. The flawless link between the socio-economic problems of a post-World War II Italy and the criminal leanings of the disenfranchised peoples of that country are melded seamlessly. Looking at just one family during this period, the film follows the breadwinner Antonio Ricci (Maggiorani) around town as he tries to find his stolen bicycle. He has his young son (Staiola) in tow which makes it that much more humiliating when it becomes almost impossible for him to find it anywhere, whether he's perusing the marketplace or hunting down the thief himself. He becomes more unsettled as the day wears on, because he needs the transportation in order to keep a job, and the world around him seems to be more concerned with revolt and propaganda than real world solutions. The film speaks volumes about how crime is elicited by people based on their neediness and the fact that most crime stems from the government's inattention to societal problems. Italy was in a shambles after the deconstruction of Mussolini's government, and at this time there was a large gap between the rich and poor. Besides speaking about Italy's problems in particular, this film also speaks about the origins of crime itself. There is no villain to the story about the stolen bicycle, only a narrative about the state of life for the people who steal and are stolen from. Both sides are getting screwed overall, but one decides to take a different path to gain agency. Having his son with him seriously makes this a tearjerker on top of everything, because he has been thieved from, and left to take care of his family with absolutely nothing. It really makes you think about the complexities of the human condition and how people truly see welfare. It tells a universal and yet very sad story and it does so in a heart wrenching and poignant way.

FrizzDrop
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

The Bicycle Thief (I prefer the singular) is one of the assumed classics that feel totally fresh and relevant from the first frame and don't need DVD commentary notes to explain it to a modern audience. It's a simple, perfect story that is gripping all the way through and beautiful to look at in every shot.

In post war Rome, a the patriarch of a poverty stricken family gets a job that requires a bicycle. On the first day on the job, the bike is stolen and Dad and his 8 year old son Bruno try to look for the culprit, which is a needle in the haystack of Rome's mean streets. On their search, they encounter homeless men in a church soup kitchen, a brothel, and a restaurant where the father and son are looked down on by snooty rich folks. That's it.

The complexity is contained in the father/son relationship, which is loving, but presented with no sentimentality. The father is so obsessed with finding the bike, that he ignores his son, impatiently hits him, and comes dangerously close to losing him numerous times. He learns his lesson and reprioritizes in the end when his son becomes his savior and redeemer.

The roles are filled by non actors. De Sica gets terrific performances out of all of them, especially the little round faced son. Though considered one of the landmarks of Italian neo-realism, this film does not feel like a gritty documentary. The shots are superbly composed, the film uses dramatic camera moves, including dolly shots, as well as a staged rain storm. The movement of people through the film is seamless and organic, yet almost balletic.

The film is generous to all its characters, no one is a bad guy, they're all just rying to survive.

I don't think I could ever get sick of this film. Its qualities have transcended the slightly Marxist intentions of its filmmakers and its setting to become something universal and timeless. The new Criterion collection remaster looks spectacular and nothing less should be screened. Enjoy.

Josh Morris
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

The Bicycle Thief Quotes

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– Submitted by Sean W (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Sean W (3 years ago)

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