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The Bicycle Thief

The Bicycle Thieves (Italian: Ladri di biciclette), also known as The Bicycle Thief, is a 1948 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio De Sica. Set right after the end of World War II, it depicts an Italy of poverty and desperation. Most of the film takes place against the background of overcrowded city streets, or tenement housing for the poor. There are no professional actors in the film. The man who plays Antonio Ricci was an actual worker in a steel factory. Ricci's wife is played by a woman who in real life was a journalist and the boy cast as Bruno, Ricci's son, was discovered by De Sica playing in the street.

The film tells the story of a poor man searching the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to be able to work. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Bartolini and was adapted for the screen by Cesare Zavattini. The film begins on what seems to be Ricci's lucky day: after two years of unemployment, he is finally offered a good government job putting up posters around the city. In order to accept the job, however, he must have a bicycle, and he has recently had to pawn his bicycle in order to feed his family of four. Then, tragically, on Ricci's first day of work, a thief stoles his bicycle. The rest of the film follows Ricci and his son Bruno as they desperately search for the stolen bicycle. At the end of a long day searching, in terrible frustration at his failed efforts to retrieve his bicycle, and desperate to hold on to his job, Ricci himself becomes a bicycle theif. The owner catches him in the act, calls for help, and Ricci is soon apprehended by an angry crowd. Although the owner does not press charges, Ricci is left at the end of the film without a bicycle and without a job.

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