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No dedicated thread on this film, which ranked 87th on one of our Top 100 lists of spiritually significant films.

Saw it last night. Pretty great. I shouldn't qualify the "great" with "pretty," but "pretty great" is rarely uttered by me. It's high praise. It's just that neorealism takes a while to work on me. In this case, it took at least half of the film for me to really engage the material. Not that the first half was lacking in any way; I just have difficulty with neorealism. In this case, the film's latter portion devastated me -- something that's rare even among the neorealist films I admire ("Open City" comes to mind).

I didn't have time to watch the supplemental disc on the Criterion edition of the DVD, but I'm very glad I saw this film before the next round of voting in our Top 100 poll.

Who else has seen it?

EDIT: BTW, I have no idea why the film, which I've always heard titled "The Bicycle Thief," carries the plural title in the Criterion edition. I assume the plural is more accurate, and, having seen the film, realize that it's a more accurate reflection of the film's content. More here.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: When IMDb changes their listing, we can change ours.

Wouldn't this thread have to be called "Ladri di biciclette", then? :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I was just trying to figure out if Nathaniel, who used to post here, is the same Nathaniel Jeff Wells refers to in this post. I remembered that Nathaniel had mentioned, way back in our Beowulf thread, that he had sat next to Wells at the screening of that movie.

Anyway, point is, Nathaniel's avatar is from The Bicycle Thief, and I never picked up on that until now, after having seen the film.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: When IMDb changes their listing, we can change ours.

Wouldn't this thread have to be called "Ladri di biciclette", then? :)

Si. The English title that matters now is the English title of the definitive Criterion DVD. The name is Bicycle Thieves.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Is there any reason to prefer one of the USA titles over all of the other English-language titles, though?

I mean, this is a fairly international board, and last I checked, our threads on The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Mr. Bean's Holiday still went by their British titles and not by their American titles. OTOH, our thread on Shooting Dogs puts both the original British title and the completely different American title in the subject line, just to be fair. (The subheadline is invisible to the search engine, so relegating a title to the subheadline might not help anyone; and of course, if someone is searching "titles only" and they are unaware that a film has more than one title in English, then they might mistakenly think that a thread doesn't exist just because they searched for the "wrong" title.)

(Side note: of the three examples I cited, two of the films were released in Canada under their British titles, and one was released under its American title.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter, yes: It has been a long-standing practice of this website that the IMDb USA release title will serve as the official title for a film. There are rare exceptions, of coruse, but only in the case where the film is unrecognizable by its USA title for some abnormal reason. That doesn't apply in this case.

This is an interesting case. I have a hard time imagining that most people in the States won't flop over to the Criterion title. It is like getting a memo from the boss.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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  • 8 months later...

I don't know why I'm getting press releases about events in New York, but here's one that arrived this morning:

Our agency would like to cordially invite you to the Corinth Films Screening of The Bicycle Thief on Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 10am. The screening will be located within the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Please be advised that this press screening is in celebration of the legendary Vittorio de Sico film's 60th Anniversary which has garnered accolades and won the Academy Award for Outstanding Language Film in 1949.

Note, BTW, that they have not yet switched over to the plural Criterion title.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I've only see THE BICYCLE THIEVES once. I was initially quite excited to watch it after having read so much about it, but ultimately left the viewing more than a little disappointed. The performances were excellent, for sure, and the story is heartbreaking, but given THE BICYCLE THIEVES' reputation, I expected something more.

Edited by Ryan H.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Jeffrey Wells:

Sidenote: DeSica's 1948 classic should always,
always
be called The Bicycle Thief and not The Bicycle
Thieves
. I don't care if DeSica favored the plural. The point is that the singular title is either (a) ambiguous or (b ) presses the viewer to decide which character -- Lamberto Maggiorani's desperate-for-work father or the guy who's stolen his bicycle -- is the one referred to by the title. (I've always thought the singular reference to Thief referred to Magiorrani, although it would be perfectly fine for someone to presume it refers to the the other guy.) One could just as easily shift between the two and never finally decide. The term "thieves' is, for me, way too literal-minded.

Kind of like if Malick had called his film The New Worlds, I guess?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 years later...

For the search engines (since the title has variants): Vittorio de Sica.

 

Oddly, the quote above in Peter's post doesn't appear to trigger a hit when I search "Vittorio de Sica" perhaps because of the possessive.

Edited by kenmorefield
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  • 1 year later...

From my new piece "Roman holidays: Visiting the Eternal City in the movies": 

 

Another neorealist classic, Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948), shows far more of Rome than Open City, as its hapless protagonist and his young son wander the streets vainly seeking a stolen bicycle that represents the father’s only hope for employment. Yet de Sica has no more interest in photogenic landmarks than Rossellini. In one sequence, as father and son make their way from the Tiber to the 4th-century basilica church of Santi Nereo e Achilleo, you would never know that they probably passed by the Circus Maximus, among other iconic locales.

 
In fact, if not for the Tiber, you could almost watch Bicycle Thieves and Roman Holiday back to back and never realize they were shot in the same city only five years apart. They would make an odd double feature, but perhaps with their very lack of commonality, these two films together offer a unique portrait of Rome, at least around the mid-20th century, both as it looked from afar and as it was for so many who lived there.
Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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  • 4 months later...

For lack of a more general thread to put this in, I just want to note a doc that opens in LA this week (for one week), We Weren't Just Bicycle Thieves. A brief (77 minutes) overview of Italian neo-realism.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Not to needlessly stir up old wounds, but I changed the title of thread to Bicycle Thieves since that is how it is listed at IMDB and the A&F Top 100. 

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