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When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital

Posted August 09, 2010 to photo album "When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital"

As part of Movie City Rome, Nick Dawson takes a trip through cinema history and examines the different ways filmmakers have portrayed the Italian capital on the big screen.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Ben-Hur (1925)
Slide 3: Open City (1945)
Slide 4: The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Slide 5: Roman Holiday (1953)
Slide 6: La Dolce Vita (1960)
Slide 7: Accattone (1961)
Slide 8: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Slide 9: Caro Diario (1993)
Slide 10: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Slide 11: Facing Windows (2003)
Slide 4: The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Slide 4: The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Another milestone in Italian neorealism, Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, continued what Rossellini had started by bringing cinema to the streets of Rome. In his 1948 movie, all of the action takes place in real locations in the city, while the characters played by local non-actors. The plot revolves around Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), a man who has just got a coveted job putting up posters around the city but is thrown into despair when his bicycle – which is essential to his job – is stolen on the Via del Traforo (just a stone’s throw from where Rossellini shot interiors for Open City). Following a fruitless pursuit of the thief, Antonio and his young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) walk the streets of the city – via such landmarks as the Porta Portese flea market and the Stadio Flaminio soccer stadium – on their long quest to get the bicycle back. Despite being rooted in the specificity of its location, De Sica’s story had a transcendent universality, as the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther noted in his 1949 review: “Although he has again set his drama in the streets of Rome and has populated it densely with significant contemporary types, De Sica is concerned here with something which is not confined to Rome nor solely originated by post-war disorder and distress. He is pondering the piteous paradoxes of poverty, no matter where, and the wretched compulsions of sheer self-interest in man's desperate struggle to survive.”