Archive for March 1st, 2009


by Allan Fish

(Italy 1952 89m) DVD1/2

One man and his dog

p/d  Vittorio de Sica  w  Cesare Zavattini, Vittorio de Sica  ph  G.R.Aldo  ed  Eraldo di Roma  m  Alessandro Cicognini  art  Virgilio Marchi

Carlo Battisti (Umberto Domenico Ferrari), Mario Pia Casilio (Maria), Lina Gennari (landlady), Alberto Albani Barbieri (fiancé), Elena Rea (sister),

I’m just a good for nothing old man” laments Carlo Battisti in de Sica’s immortal neo-realist drama.  Indeed this is neo-realism and cinematic humanism at its height, a film perhaps too sentimental for some, but somehow essential.  Umberto D is a film that manages to show just how lonely old age can be.  And even though other films have dealt with the subject of old age – from Tokyo Story to Wild Strawberries to Make Way for Tomorrow – they all detailed old couples or at least those with family.  The eponymous old man in de Sica’s film has no family, no friends and no hope. 

            Umberto Domenico Ferrari has recently retired after working as a civil servant for thirty years in the Ministry of Public Works.  He has never been in debt in his life, until now.  Now he is 15,000 lira in debt to his unforgiving landlady who refuses to bend an inch.  With only his small fox terrier dog, Flike, for company, and only one human friend – a late teenage girl pregnant by one of two soldier lovers – Umberto tries everything he can to pay his debts.  He gets himself committed into a hospital run by a sisterhood to save money on food, tries to sell his watch and, at one point, comes close to begging.  Returning from hospital to find his room in deliberate disrepair, he leaves to an unknown future. (more…)

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