Toth Database - Cinema

Bicycle Thieves 



Duration: 93 min.

Color: B/N

Genre: Dramatic

Director: Vittorio De Sica

Producer: P.D.S

Photograph: Carlo Montuori

Editing : Eraldo Da Roma

Music: Alessandro Cicognini

Set design: Antonio Traverso



Performers and characters



Lamberto Maggiorani : Antonio Ricci 

Enzo Staiola : Bruno, his son 

Lianella Carell : Maria, his wife 

Elena Altieri : Mrs. Benefattrice

Gino Saltamerenda: Baiocco

Vittorio Antonucci: the bicycle thief

Giulio Chiari: Poster attack

Michele Sakara: the secretary of the charity party 

Fausto Guerzoni : The Actor of Philodramatics

Carlo Jachino: Beggar

Massimo Randisi: the bourgeois boy at the trattoria

Ida Bracci Dorati: la santona 

Peppino Spadaro : the Brigadier 

Mario Meniconi: the scavenger

Checco Rissone: The watchman in Piazza Vittorio

Giulio Battiferri:  a citizen of the crowd defending the real thief

Sergio Leone: a seminar student

Memo Carotenuto: a citizen of the crowd defending the real thief



Voice actor


Aldo Fabrizi: Baiocco

Alberto Sordi: Bicycle salesman in Piazza Vittorio







Rome, post-war period. Antonio Ricci, an unemployed man, finds work as a municipal attack. To work, however, she has to own a bicycle and hers is forced to pledge the sheets to redeem it. Just the first of his work, however, while trying to glue a film poster, the bicycle is stolen from him. Antonio chases the thief, but to no avai end.


Going to report the theft to the police, he realizes that law enforcement for that small and common theft will not be able to help him. Back home embittered, he realizes that the only possibility is to go in search of the bicycle himself. 


He then asks for help from one of his party colleagues, who mobilitys his fellow garbage men. At dawn, together with his son Bruno, who works in a gas station, and his party mate, he goes to look for the bicycle first in Piazza Vittorio and then in Porta Portese, where the stolen items are usually resold. However, there is nothing to do: the bicycle, probably now dismembered in its parts, is not found. Right in Porta Portese, Antonio recognizes the thief in the company of an old bum, immediately losing sight of him. Even the old man wants to escape Ricci who follows him to a canteen of the poor, where ladies of charity of the pious Roman bourgeoisie distribute soup and religious function to the hungry. 


The man claims to be accompanied by the homeless man to the thief's address but, taking advantage of a distraction, the old man flees. Now he lost hope, Antonio even goes so far as to turn to a Santona, a fate of seer who welcomes into the house a varied humanity, afflicted, wretched; but the woman's sibylline response is almost a mockery. 


Soon after, only by chance, Antonio again comes across the culprit in an infamous ward, where all the inhabitants firmly defend the thief by threatening the robbed. Not even a carabiniere, finding no concrete evidence, can do anything to arrest the culprit. Overwhelmed by tiredness, Antonio and Bruno wait for the tram to return home, when Antonio notices an unattended bicycle and, caught in despair, tries clumsyly to steal it, but is immediately stopped and attacked by passers-by.


Only the desperate cry of his son, who mercilessly moves those present, prevents him from prison.


Bruno shakes hands with his father and the two walk away in the crowd as he descends on Rome in the evening.







After sciuscià's commercial failure, Vittoria De Sica wanted to make this second film at all costs, to the point of investing her own money for the production.


The film, shot between June and August 1948, was released in Italian cinemas on November 24 of the same year, below are the various countries to which it was exported.




France: August 26, 1949

USA: December 12, 1949

Sweden: February 27, 1950

Spain: June 5, 1950

Japan: September 26, 1959

Australia: November 3, 1950

Portugal: November 20, 1950

Denmark: December 15, 1950

West Germany: August 24, 1951

Finland: February 1, 1952

East Germany: April 17, 1953

Austrian Cup: July 10, 1953

Argentina: October 29, 1953

China: January 7, 1954

Turkey: 1958







Bicycle thieves cashed in £252,0000 million lire


The film can be taken as a historical reference term for a comparison of the social reality of Rome in the immediate post-war period. In addition to the great interpretation of the two protagonists (to whom the leadership of De Sica's direction certainly contributed decisively) taken from the street, as was said then, there is a third protagonist in the film that is the writing of Rome with its inhabitants.  It is a Rome that, it represents in the black and white of the film, appears in its greatness.


Its streets appear half empty, wide, characterized by a monumentality distant from the subsequent urbanization: its streets and the squares of the center are almost free from modern cars and vehicles.


Even the districts of the center, those then proletarian, appear in their original structure: as well as the extreme periphery of the popular palaces, even more countryside than city, preserves a peasant architectural form that is reflected in the features and manners of its inhabitants. The extreme poverty of the post-war period is almost redeemed by this original authenticity of a city clean in its architecture and in the spontaneous morality of its citizens.


The Roman humanity presented in the film is made up of people who, in its various popular strata, from Maggiorani's party mates, to the garbage men, to the neighborhood mobsters themselves, to the postulants of the saint, to the ladies of charity, to the good carabiniere, is characterized by a spirit of participation in solidarity with others, is not closed in its indifference, it is as open and genuine as the streets and palaces of Rome of Bicycle Thieves.


The critic Andrè Bazin, in emphasizing the innovative exploit of De Sica's masterpiece, expressed himself as follows:


"The supreme success of De Sica, to some people have only come closer or less, is to have been able to find the cinematic dialectic capable of overcoming the contradiction of spectacular action and event. In this, Bicycle Thieves is one of the earliest examples of pure cinema. No more actors, no more history, no more staging, that is, finally in the perfect aesthetic illusion of reality: no more cinema »


( Andrè Bazin, Che cos'è il cinema ? , Garzanti , 2000 , pp.317 -318 )


For Italy, the creation of the posters and posters, was entrusted to the billboard painter Ercole Brini, who painted the watercolor and tempering sketches, in a style that we could call "neorealist" very suitable for the spirit of the film.