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Bike Movies
Bicycle Thief

Bike Movies by Greg Borzo

  • Title: Bicycle Thief
  • Year Released: 1948
  • Duration: 93 minutes
  • Language: Italian
  • Bike Content: 10/10 wheels
  • Overall Rating: 8/10 stars

The Bicycle Thief demonstrates unforgettably that in certain times and places, bikes were a serious matter. They could mean the difference between a job and no job; bread and no bread.

Bicycle ThiefIf you think that sounds overblown or melodramatic, see this powerful movie. The style, tone, acting and photography will draw you into what starts out as a somewhat implausible story. Soon into the movie, however, you will believe that everything is, in fact, riding on a bike.

The Bicycle Thief tells the gripping story of an unemployed man who is offered a job hanging posters – as long as he has a bike. The man and his wife get his bike out of hock by pawning their sheets. He can barely control his pride and joy as he rides off to work on his first day. But after someone steals his bike, he sets out on increasingly desperate efforts to retrieve it.

The search takes the hero through the streets and alleys, churches and brothels of Rome, all beautifully photographed in high contrast black-and-white that accentuates the grimness of the story and the starkness of the setting, post World War II Italy.

This classic film is a cornerstone of Italian neo-realism, which depicts working-class life realistically in simple and direct terms. As such, The Bicycle Thief is not a fun or easy movie to watch. Nevertheless, it is an unadorned work of art. In addition, this ode to a bicycle can serve as a reminder that even today most of the one billion or so bikes in the world are as vital to someone’s health and welfare as this bike was to this impoverished, postwar Italian family’s survival.