Vittorio De Sica – Il tetto aka The Roof (1956)

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THE ROOF, largely considered the last masterpiece of Italian Neorealist cinema, dramatizes a single night in the lives of Luisa (Gabriella Palloti) and Natale (Georgio Listuzzi), a strikingly good-looking but destitute pair of newlyweds. The couple shares a small two-room apartment with several relatives. Following a bitter family dispute, Luisa and Natale pack out of this untenable living situation. Luisa turns to a friend for housing, while Natale finds shelter in a toolshed. Realizing that separation is no solution, the couple struggles to build a small shack for themselves in a race against time by a Roman municipal edict, which declares that if the roof is not completed by dawn, it will be torn down by the police. True to writer Cesare Zavattini and director/producer Vittorio De Sica’s previous works (THE BICYCLE THIEF, UMBERTO D.), what risks being lost isn’t just material property, it is the personal dignity of the couple and by extenuation, the dignity of all of mankind. The acting, writing, and directing throughout THE ROOF is superb, creating an honest and touching story centered upon the mutual love and devotion of the young newlyweds. Continue reading

Vittorio De Sica – Sciuscià AKA Shoeshine [+Extras] (1946)

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At a track near Rome, shoeshine boys are watching horses run. Two of the boys Pasquale, an orphan, and Giuseppe, his younger friend are riding. The pair have been saving to buy a horse of their own to ride… The boys meet Attilio, Giuse’s much older brother, and his shady friend at a boat on the Tiber. In return for a commission, the boys agree to deliver black market goods to a fortune-teller. Once the woman has paid, Attilio’s gang suddenly arrives. Pretending to be cops, they shake the woman down. With a payoff from Attilio, the boys are able to make the final payment and stable their horse in Trastevere over the river… The fortune-teller identifies Pasqua and Giuse. Held at an overcrowded boys’ prison, they are separated. Giuse falls under the influence of an older lad in his cell, Arcangeli. During interrogation, Pasqua is tricked into betraying Giuse’s brother to the police. With their trial still in the future, the two friends are driven further apart… Continue reading