Thu 20th Oct 6.00pm: BICYCLE THIEVES (U) 1948 Italy 89mins, dir Vittorio De Sica.

Cast: Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Vittorio Antonucci, Elena Aitieri, Lamberto Maggiorani, Gino Saltamerenda.

Vittorio De Sica’s story of a father and son searching for a stolen bicycle on the streets of Rome is a classic of postwar Italian cinema. A landmark of humanist filmmaking, Bicycle Thieves was a key work in the 1940s film movement known as Italian neo-realism. Like the wartime trilogy that Roberto Rossellini began with Rome: Open City (1945), it heralded a new kind of cinematic naturalism, employing non-professionals as actors and taking the camera out onto the streets to faithfully record the social realities of a Europe struggling to get back on its feet after WWII. Adapted from a novel by Luigi Bartolini, the quiet tragedy of a father’s desperate hunt for a stolen bicycle that he depends on for his work has a fable-like simplicity. For all its vivid documentation of a downtrodden Rome, it is as a universal tale of human striving that De Sica’s film has proved influential. ‘A heartbreaking, endlessly affecting piece of humanist cinema, sharp in its social criticism, yet ultimately life-enhancing in its belief in the decency of ordinary people.’ Phillip French, The Observer.