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Vittorio de Sica's 1946 production gave neorealism its first popular success, though today—now that we're used to seeing dramas filmed in the streets—it's hard to locate what's “realistic” about it. De Sica has simply adapted studio shooting techniques to open-air situations; the film has none of the freshness and formal innovation of Rossellini's contemporary Open City and Paisan. Cesare Zavattini, De Sica's longtime collaborator, wrote the screenplay: it's about two shoeshine boys who get involved in the black market, are thrown in a Nazi jail, and end by betraying each other. It has plenty of opportunities for easy sentiment, and De Sica neglects none of them. With Rinaldo Smordoni and Franco Interlenghi. 93 min. In English and Italian with subtitles.

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