Umberto D. (pronounced [umˈbɛrto di]) is a 1952 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio De Sica. Most of the actors were non-professional, including Carlo Battisti who plays the title role of Umberto Domenico Ferrari, a poor elderly man in Rome who is desperately trying to keep his rented room. His landlady (Lina Gennari) is evicting him, and his only true friends, the housemaid (Maria-Pia Casilio) and his dog Flike (called 'Flag' in some subtitled versions of the film) are of no help.
|Directed by||Vittorio De Sica|
|Produced by||Rizzoli-De Sica-Amato|
|Written by||Cesare Zavattini (story and screenplay)|
|Music by||Alessandro Cicognini|
|Cinematography||G. R. Aldo|
|Edited by||Eraldo Da Roma|
|Distributed by||Dear Film|
|20 January 1952 (Italy)|
7 November 1955 (USA)
According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, this was De Sica's favorite of all his films. The movie was included in TIME magazine's "All-TIME 100 Movies" in 2005. The film's sets were designed by Virgilio Marchi.
Police disperse an organized street demonstration of elderly men demanding a raise in their meager pensions. One of the marchers is Umberto D. Ferrari, a retired government worker.
He returns to his room, and finds that his landlady has rented it out for an hour to an amorous couple. She threatens to evict Ferrari at the end of the month if he cannot pay the overdue rent: fifteen thousand lire. He sells a watch and some books, but only raises a third of the amount. The landlady refuses to accept partial payment.
Meanwhile, the sympathetic maid confides in Umberto that she has her own problems. She is three months pregnant, but is unsure which of two soldiers is the father, the tall one from Naples or the short one from Florence.
Feeling ill, Umberto gets himself admitted to a hospital; it turns out to be tonsillitis, and he is discharged after a few days. When he returns to the apartment, he finds workmen renovating the entire place. The landlady is getting married. Umberto's room has a gaping hole in the wall; the maid tells him it is to become part of an enlarged living room. The maid was taking care of his dog, Flike, but a door was left open and Flike ran away.
Umberto rushes to the city pound, and is relieved to find his dog. However, when he makes a veiled plea for a loan to one of his friends who has a job, the friend refuses to listen. Unable to bring himself to beg from strangers on the street, Umberto contemplates suicide, but knows he must first see that Flike is taken care of. He packs his belongings, and leaves the apartment. His parting advice to the maid is to get rid of the boyfriend from Florence.
Umberto attempts to find a place for Flike, first with a couple who board dogs, then a little girl he knows, but the latter's nanny makes her give the dog back. Flike goes to play with some children, and Umberto slips away, gambling that one of them will adopt him. Despite Umberto's attempt to abandon Flike, the dog finds him hiding under a footbridge. Finally in desperation, Umberto takes the dog in his arms and walks on to a railway track as a speeding train approaches. Flike becomes frightened, wriggles free and flees. Umberto runs after him. At first Flike warily hides, but eventually Umberto coaxes Flike out to play with a pine cone. Still homeless and nearly penniless, Umberto scampers down the park lane with his dog.
De Sica said that the film was quite unpopular in Italy because it was in a period after WWII when the country was just getting back on its feet. Subsequently, they saw Umberto D. as too critical of the pride they were trying to engender in themselves. It was, however, quite popular overseas and the film he remained most proud of (even dedicating the film to his father).
In an interview where he discussed Diary of a Country Priest, Psycho and Citizen Kane, Ingmar Bergman is quoted as saying, "Umberto D. is... a movie I have seen a hundred times, that I may love most of all."
Roger Ebert included the film in his selection of Great Movies, writing "Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D (1952) is the story of the old man's struggle to keep from falling from poverty into shame. It may be the best of the Italian neorealist films--the one that is most simply itself, and does not reach for its effects or strain to make its message clear."
Awards and nominations
- Vittorio De Sica was nominated for the Grand Prix – 1952 Cannes Film Festival
- 1955 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Film
- Cesare Zavattini was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Story at the 29th Academy Awards in 1957
A French remake entitled A Man and His Dog premiered in 2008. The film was directed by Francis Huster, co-written by Huster and Murielle Magellan, and stars Jean-Paul Belmondo in his first role in seven years, alongside Hafsia Herzi, Julika Jenkins and Francis Huster among others.
- "All-Time 100 Movies". Time Entertainment. 12 February 2005. Retrieved 1 Jan 2012.
- Lai, Sandro (2001), Timeless Cinema, Giuseppe Amato, Lello Bersani, Vittorio De Sica, retrieved 2018-05-18
- "Bergman about other filmmakers". Ingmar Bergman Face to Face. Ingmar Bergman Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (April 28, 2002). "Umberto D". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Festival de Cannes: Umberto D." festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-18.