Scott Tobias @ avclub.com July 22nd, 2003 wrote:
If the Italian neo-realist movement could be said to have a definite endpoint, it would probably be Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 film Umberto D., a huge international flop that was initially greeted with hostility at home and indifference abroad, but which has since resurfaced as a masterpiece. But apart from any fiscal reasons, the film may have ended neo-realism because it’s arguably its greatest example, taking the movement to a point of aesthetic purity from which it had nowhere else to go. Unlike other landmark De Sica films, such as 1946’s Shoe-Shine or 1948’s The Bicycle Thief, Umberto D. doesn’t press hard for sentiment or sweeping emotional crescendos, but simply embraces an old man’s often-mundane attempts to survive another month and hold on to what little he has.
– Interview with actress Maria Pia Cassilio (12:05) taped in 2003. UMBERTO D was her first film, and the start of a long career in films (she once made 20 movies in one year). Cassilio recounts her background, how she met De Sica, and some amusing stories about her “contract negotiations.”