Umberto D (Vittoria de Sica, 1952)

What's it about? A retired civil servant struggles with his debts in a society that seems to have no use or time for him any more, with only his faithful dog Flike to keep him company.

Is it any good? From this simple premise, de Sica develops a moving drama of one man’s attempts to keep his dignity and self-respect in an uncaring world. Non-professional actor Carlo Battista invests Umberto D with a quiet pathos, conveying more emotion through his actions rather than words. There is great sadness in the film, but little room for sentimentality. Instead, we simply experience the world through one man's eyes and are left with the hope that all will turn out okay for this lonely figure.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Most film historians consider this the film that ended the Italian Neorealist film movement. Although de Sica had helped establish the movement with his earlier films, Umberto D was widely criticised by influential government figures, who accused de Sica of “slandering Italy abroad” by “washing dirty linen in public”, with the film flopping miserably with the public. Despite this, it was widely acclaimed abroad and Ingmar Bergman cites it as his favourite film. Don't let that put you off though.

What does the Fonz think? A dog's life, but a great film.

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