Rome Open City: Roberto Rossellini's startling depiction of Nazi-occupied World War II Rome and one of the most prominent examples of his neorealist cinematic style is the story of a tenaciously held underground resistance against the Germans. When its leader Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero) and a priest Don Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi) are captured the resistance collapses with disastrous personal results to all. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay; Fellini collaborated with Rossellini in the writing of the script. 'Open City' is all the more remarkable... in that it was made immediately following the liberation of Rome had been developed while Rossellini himself was in hiding and was filmed in the locations where the true events that the story are based on occurred. (Dir. Roberto Rossellini 1945) The Bicycle Thieves: 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. Shot on location in Rome and using non-actors as a means of heightening the reality of the film Ladri Di Biciclette received the Honorary Award for Best Foreign Film at the 1950 Oscars. (Dir. Vittorio De Sica 1948) Miracle In Milan: Once upon a time an old woman discovered a young child in her cabbage patch. She cared for him until her death at which time the boy was placed into an orphanage. When the child is released from the orphanage he inspires shantytown squatters to improve their huts and enjoy the world. But as they begin to rebuild the squatters strike oil. The landowner evicts them wanting the oil for himself. But the old woman drops down from heaven to give Toto a magical dove which grants them whatever wish they want. Winner of the Grand Prize at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival - tied with Frken Julie. (Dir. Vittorio De Sica 1951) Umberto D: Retired civil servant Umberto struggles to survive on his rapidly dwindling pension in the harsh environment of post-World War II Rome a city plagued by its society's total disregard for the plight of the elderly the poor and the downtrodden. His only companions are his loyal dog Flag and a pregnant housemaid named Maria (Maria-Pia Casilio). Facing eviction from his humble home by his tyrannical landlady (Lina Gennari) Umberto's desperate failed attempts to raise money lead him to contemplate suicide. But first he must find a home for his little dog. Filmed on location in Rome with a totally non-professional cast Vittorio De Sica's compassionate but unsentimental handling of Umberto's tale devastatingly conveys the wretchedness of poverty and old age. 'Umberto D' is a deeply emotional and moving film that has quite rightly been hailed as a timeless classic of modern cinema. (Dir. Vittorio De Sica 1952) I Vitelloni: Five young men linger in post-adolescent limbo dreaming of adventure and escape from their small seacoast town. They while away their time spending the lira doled out by their indulgent families on drink women and nights at the local pool hall. Federico Fellini's second solo directorial effort is a semi-autobiographical masterpiece of sharply drawn character sketches. An international success and recipient of an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay I Vitelloni compassionately details a year in the life of small-town layabouts struggling to find meaning in their lives. (Dir. Federico Fellini 1953) [show more]
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