In a devastated Italy just after the the Second World War, we meet Antonio (Maggiorani), who just manages to scrounge a living for himself and his family putting up movie posters around town. Antonio's job depends entirely on his bicycle, however, and soon disaster strikes. Someone steals his bike right out from under him, and with his adoring son Bruno (Staiola) in tow, an increasingly desperate Antonio scours Rome to retrieve it. Finally, he resorts to the theft of another bike to put bread on his table.
"Bicycle Thieves" (also known as "The Bicycle Thief") still packs a wallop, portraying poverty's heartless capacity to rob a father of the thing an impressionable son needs to see most — his basic dignity. Authentic location shooting all around war-scarred Rome also lends impact and authenticity. For his powerful work, De Sica was awarded a special Oscar in 1948 (several years before the Academy established a category for best foreign film).