Archive for Vittorio De Sica

Thief or Thieves?

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 9, 2020 by dcairns

In America, seemingly, it’s called THE BICYCLE THIEF. In Britain, BICYCLE THIEVES. In Italy, LADRI DI BICICLETTE. The Italian title is correct, the British one and accurate translation, the US one an abberation.

Since we spend the film following two characters, father and son, the plural FEELS right, but of course only the father is a thief, the other thief is the guy who stole HIS bike.

Eventually I suppose everyone in Rome will have stolen everyone else’s bike, but meanwhile here is the new Blu-ray from Arrow, which has a video essay I made with ace editor Alex Starr.

Bicycle Thieves [Blu-ray]

Virtual Paradise

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2020 by dcairns

So this year, courtesy of the worldwide pandemic, we get to experience a small sampling of Il Cinema Ritrovato’s offerings from the comfort of our own filthy flat in the freezing drizzle of a Scottish summer. It’s very good value — for fifty euros Fiona and I can get enough content to fill our days, or almost, for a week. I don’t really like streaming things — you pay for something but you don’t get to own it — but it’s definitely preferable to international travel in the current world situation.

Day one — yesterday — we dipped in. Two not-quite documentaries. Jean-Pierre Berthomé & Emmanuel Charon’s BABYLON IN HOLLYWOOD is a work-in-progress short film about DW Griffith’s celebrated giant sets for INTOLERANCE — the filmmakers have calculated the measurements and the star of their film is a 3D computer reconstruction of the edifice, which the audience gets whizzed around and about and through. Based on little-seen stills, the filmmakers have also deduced that the set is not a closed, three-sided box as it usually appears — the walls don’t join, thus allowing the extras in more easily, and letting the light flood in. All this was fascinating.

The presentation is rocky, but then the thing isn’t finished.

I first saw Mara Blasetti, daughter of the great Alessandro Blasetti, and a pioneering female production manager, at Bologna on one of my first visits. Now her golden stash of production stills has been rediscovered, and she narrates RITRATTO DI MARA BLASETTI, which has fewer ambitions to be cinematic than the BABYLON joint, but succeeds extremely well as a rostrum-camera slide-show full of insights and history with behind-the-scenes appearances by Sophia, Marcello, et al. Fiona got excited about the thought of Vittorio De Sica playing a lunatic bus driver in TEMPI NOSTRI – ZIBALDONE N. 2 (1954, aka THE ANATOMY OF LOVE) so I popped the disc in and we enjoyed that as an off-shoot of our Bolognese adventure.

Oh, and two shorts — in THE NEW MAID IS TOO MUCH OF A FLIRT (1912), a household crumbles into chaos when none of the male staff can resist the beauteous new ladies’ maid, but the mistress sorts out the fumbling admirers with a bit of hosepipe slapstick (a reliable finish since Lumiere). In TONTOLINI E TRISTE, the downcast comedian tries everything he can to cheer himself up, but the theatre is too tragic and the circus show devolves into a riot, but a trip to the movie house to see himself caper about finally brings a smile to his face.



Posted in FILM with tags , , on May 23, 2020 by dcairns


I feel kinda guilty but also relieved that work has been flowing in more steadily than usual during this thing. My latest video essay, Money Has Been My Ruin, tells the story of Vittorio De Sica and is an extra on Arrow Academy’s new release of BICYCLE THIEVES, a substantial upgrade transferred from the original camera negative.

I like it when I’m unqualified for a job and have to research it — I think those circs result in some of my better pieces. With this one I had seen relatively little De Sica and was way behind on my neorealist viewing generally, but it incentivised me to catch up. Fortunately I had made inroads already…

And it was all worth it just to uncover this still: