By Costanza Beltrami

Italian actor and director Vittorio De Sica died on 13 November 1974 in Paris. Born in 1902 in Sora, in the region of Lazio, De Sica was a prolific film director and actor who directed 35 films and directed 150.

De Sica became a star in 1932, with a role in Mario Camerini’s Gli uomini, che mascalzoni! (1932; “What Rascals Men Are!”). This and other early films established his as a romantic leading man, sometimes compared to Cary Grant.

In the 1940s, De Sica started working as a director too. His films focused on simple people, honest stories, and social themes, demonstrating a melancholic faith in the brotherhood of man. In the post-war period, De Sica’s sober documentary style became a signature of the Neoralism current, with world-acclaimed masterpieces such as Sciuscià(1946; Shoeshine), Ladri di biciclette (1948; The Bicycle Thief),Miracolo a Milano (1951; Miracle in Milan), and Umberto D. (1952). In many of these films, de Sica directed non-professional actors, especially children.

In the 1950s and 60s, De Sica produced very successful Hollywood movies, often in collaboration with Italian superstar Sophia Loren. among these films, Matrimonio all’italiana (1964; Marriage, Italian Style) is a cynical but funny portrayal of post-war Italian society, law, and love.

In the 70s, De Sica combined his Neoralist style with Hollywood techniques, signing dramatic movies such as Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1970; The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), narrating the destruction of the ghetto of Ferrara in 1943, and the deportation of its inhabitants.

De Sica’s last film was Il viaggio (1974; The Voyage), were this influential Italian filmmaker adapted a short novel by one of the fathers of modern Italian literature, Luigi Pirandello.

Vittorio de Sica

Poster for Sciuscià (1945)

Poster for Ladri di Biciclette (1948)

Poster for Ieri, Oggi, Domani (1963)

Poster for Divorzio all’italiana (1964)

Poster for  Ilgiardino dei Finzi-Contini (1970)

Umberto D. (1952), trailer.

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