Bicycle Thieves (1948)

  • Year: 1948
  • Released: 13 Dec 1949
  • Country: Italy
  • Adwords: Nominated for 1 Oscar. 20 wins & 3 nominations total
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Italian, English, German
  • MPA Rating: Not Rated
  • Genre: Drama
  • Runtime: 89 min
  • Writer: Cesare Zavattini, Luigi Bartolini, Oreste Biancoli
  • Director: Vittorio De Sica
  • Cast: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell
  • Keywords: thief, rome, italy, unemployment, italian, society,
99% – Critics
94% – Audience

Bicycle Thieves Storyline

Antonio Ricci is only one of several men who regularly stand outside his local municipal employment office in Rome every morning hoping that work, doled out on a qualification basis, is available. This morning he is told that he has a job starting the next day: hanging posters around the city. A bicycle is a requirement for the job, and he tells a white lie that he owns one. He did own one, but he pawned it to put food on the table for himself, his wife Maria, and their two young children. At some sacrifice, he and Maria sell some of their possessions so that Antonio can get his bicycle out of hock; they believe it’s worth the sacrifice, as the return in employment salary and overtime far excesses the initial capital outlay in getting the bicycle back. On Antonio’s first working day, his bicycle is stolen as he is on his ladder hanging a poster. When the police tell him that they can only keep the bicycle’s serial number on file in case it does show up, Antonio, with his friends and his older son, adolescent Bruno, by his side, go on what seems like a futile mission to locate the bicycle, which could now be anywhere in Rome. But Antonio views the bicycle as his and his family’s means of survival, so he jumps on any clue to locate the bicycle and/or the thief–whom he actually saw–and perhaps take desperate measures in these desperate times.

Bicycle Thieves Play trailer

Bicycle Thieves Photos

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subtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.
Arabicsubtitle The.Bicycle.Thief.1948.720p.BluRay.x264-SiNNERS
Bengalisubtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.
Brazilian Portuguesesubtitle Ladri di Biciclette, 1948
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Brazilian Portuguesesubtitle Ladri di Biciclette, 1948
Englishsubtitle Bicycle Thieves
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Portuguesesubtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.
Spanishsubtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.
Spanishsubtitle Ladri di Biciclette, 1948
Spanishsubtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.
Turkishsubtitle Bicycle.Thieves.1948.720p.BluRay.x264.

Bicycle Thieves Movie Reviews

A Heartbreaking Masterpiece of the Italian Neo-Realism

In the post-war Rome, after more than two-year unemployment, the family man Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) finally finds a disputed job position putting up posters that requires having a bicycle. However, he needs to retrieve his bicycle in the pawn shop but he does not have money. His wife Maria (Lianella Carell) pawns their bed sheets and uses the money to recover the precious bicycle. Antonio envisions a better life for his family with his salary, overtime and benefits. Unfortunately, his bicycle is stolen on the first working day. Antonio and his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) spend the Sunday chasing the bicycle and the thief on the streets of Rome.

“Ladri di Biciclette” is a heartbreaking masterpiece of the Italian Neo- Realism and one of the best movies of cinema history ever. This is the third time that I watch this unforgettable film that makes me sad with the desperation of Antonio and his lack of perspective in the end. There are memorable touching scenes, like Bruno eating pizza in the restaurant wearing a torn coat and contrasting with the wealthy family; or the happiness of the clumsy Antonio putting up the poster of Rita Hayworth in “Gilda”; or the indecision of Bruno between a dish of soup in the church or chasing the old man with his father; or the shame of Antonio in the end. The DVD released in Brazil by Spectra Nova has good quality of image, subtitles in yellow but no Extras. The DVD released by Versátil uses the same matrix of Spectra Nova but with subtitles in white, and it is difficult the reading by the viewer. However, there are many Extras. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): “Ladrões de Bicicleta” (“Thieves of Bicycle”)

Despite its reputation, it’s still not DeSica’s best!

THE BICYCLE THIEVES is an Italian “Neo-realist” film–so called because it used real people in rather ordinary situations. Some see these as anti-Hollywood but the actual reason for them was that after the war, the Italian film industry was in ruin and they were practically broke, so making these simple films about simple people was a natural outgrowth, though some of the groundwork for this style began during the war.

The story itself is about a poor man who is out of work but is finally able to secure a job using his bicycle. The problem is that soon after starting back to work, the bike is stolen so he spends the rest of the film searching for the bike (sort of like PEEWEE’S GREAT ADVENTURE, but not a comedy). Later in the film, the focus is not just on the bike but on the relationship between the man and his young son. There really is nothing more to this very simple plot, but it is a fascinating time capsule into the desperate state of Italy until its rebirth in the mid-1950s.

The fact that THE BICYCLE THIEVES is so well known and respected is a testament to the fact that many “in the know” aren’t really that smart after all. What they actually didn’t realize is that the director (DeSica) did several other films that were at least as good, if not better. I have heard and read much fawning praise for this film while at the same time wondering how these critics can discuss THE BICYCLE THIEVES without mentioning his other great works. It wasn’t like THE BICYCLE THIEVES was his one crowning achievement as director–it’s just that this one was discovered abroad and by the Oscar people (AMPAS). I challenge you to watch MIRACLE IN MILAN, UMBERTO D or especially THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US and then tell me that THE BICYCLE THIEVES is THE great masterpiece. These films (particularly THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING US) have a great depth of emotion that THE BICYCLE THIEVES lacks and the connection to the audience is greater (provided you ever see these other films).

I am not cursing THE BICYCLE THIEVES–it is a very good and simple film. But as far as its being a “masterpiece”, I just think it’s a bit overrated. Before marking this review “not helpful”, please first have integrity and see these other films to see what I mean–they are indeed great films and DeSica was an amazing director.

An Italian masterpiece…

Not only that, but a masterpiece of cinema. I do like foreign language movies, and for me Bicycle Thieves is one of those quintessential jewels of foreign language cinema. What makes me love Bicycle Thieves so much is the emotional impact. It is an incredibly touching movie, especially at the end which is so harsh and pessimistic yet very real that I can’t help getting choked. It is not just the ending that is so achingly poignant, it is also the ironic humanism Bicycle Thieves has, and the film is also chilling in the scene when Bruno sees his father steal and redemptive in when Bruno slips his hand into his father’s. Aside from the poignancy, the film is incredibly well made, with stunning photography, wondrous scenery and poetic symbolism. Alessandro Cicognini’s score brings a dramatic intensity to the proceedings as well, and the Italian songs are wonderful. The script is both thought-provoking and philosophical(you live and you suffer), and the story follows or adopts a flow-of-life structure. The pace I have no problem with either, it is drawn-out but it is so deliberately to add to the neo-realism. Vittorio Di Sica directs impeccably and the acting is pretty much outstanding with Enzo Staiola delivering one of the most heart-breakingly believable child performances I have seen especially. All in all, a masterpiece. 10/10 Bethany Cox