The recipient of international acclaim, Vittorio de Sica's Italian Neorealist masterwork, THE BICYCLE THIEF, is a treasure of world cinema. After nearly two years of unemployment, Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) finally finds work posting bills. But he needs a bicycle to do the job. Unfortunately, he was forced to pawn his own bicycle long ago. In a humbling, tragic scene, Antonio exchanges his family's linen for his bicycle. But when the bike is stolen on his first day of work, he must comb the streets of Rome in search of the bike: his family's only means to survival. After three days of hunting, Antonio and his son, Bruno (Enzo Staiola), find the thief (Vittorio Antonucci)--but without witnesses or evidence, the police are unwilling to help Antonio. Hopeless, Antonio and Bruno wander aimlessly through Rome, landing outside of a soccer stadium where hundreds of bicycles are parked. His will broken, Antonio attempts to steal a bike but is caught in the act.
Thematically, Vittoria de Sica's THE BICYCLE THIEF details an everyman story of loss of innocence in the face of a destitute society, while the film's poignant acting and directing creates an individual and heart-wrenching tale of one man's struggle to feed his family. The film is often considered one of the masterpieces of 20th century cinema.
Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film 1949