Bicycle Thieves – tape 329

This tape starts with some strange (for me) stuff. It opens with two and a half minutes of Wimbledon, Ivan Lendl vs Pat Cash in the final, which dates this as July 5th 1987.

Which also jibes with what happens after two and a half minutes – we switch to Jeff Bridges in Winter Kills – in progress. Weird. And I recorded the last half hour of it here. Perhaps I was watching the film, then got tired and decided to tape the end. It must have been a deliberate choice to keep this, too, because immediately after it finishes, recording switches to Channel 4 and Vittorio Di Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, a film which regularly rank high on list of the greatest movies ever made. I’ve never watched it before.

Boy, what a downer. Desperately poor man, who needs a bicycle to perform his new job as a bill sticker, has his bicycle stolen. He spends the next day looking all over the city with his young son looking for the bike or the thief, and when he manages to find the thief, all his neighbours gang up and claim it wasn’t him, so the policeman tells him there’s no point pursuing it.

Then he snaps and tries to steal a bicycle himself, but gets caught by another mob, who let him go because he’s got his son with him, but by then it’s too late and he’s shamed in front of his son.

The End.

Plus, he’s not quite the greatest dad in the world.

Put Your Jacked On, You're Sweating

Sometimes it’s hard to see why a film has such a reputation. A film’s position in cinema history is sometimes hard to discern in isolation. This film comes out of the Italian neorealist movement, and the performers in the film are all non-professionals. I guess the closest generic example in English cinema would be someone like Ken Loach, who frequently tells the stories of the most desperately deprived in society, and the relentless pressures that poverty and unemployment exert on ordinary people.

Even so, I was still hoping for a happy ending. But I accept that that’s my problem, not the film’s.

After the film, there’s this special news report, concerning the IRA bombing of a war memorial at Enniskillen.

After this, there’s a cartoon called Never Poke the Mouse.

Never Poke The Mouse

It’s ever so slightly ‘Worker and Parasite’.

This is followed by Aids: A Priest’s Testament. The tape ends after 45 minutes of this programme.

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2 comments

  1. The only time I saw Bicycle Thieves I sat down with it expecting to be deeply unimpressed, but damn if I wasn’t having a “just something in my eye” moment by the end. If something can be harsh and compassionate at the same time, it’s this.

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