13. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Screenwriter: Cesare Zavattini, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Vittorio De Sica, Oreste Biancoli, Adolfo Franci, Gerardo Guerrieri
Vittorio De Sica's heart wrenching, neorealist milestone follows Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his adorable young son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) as they scour post-WWII Rome searching for their stolen bicycle. Already living in poverty, Antonio desperately needs the bicycle to stay employed. When his search, like almost everything else in his life, bears no fruit, he resorts to stealing a bicycle himself ... in front of his own son.
That tragic finale completes the bicycle's purpose: symbolizing the circularity of poverty and crime. After Antonio's failed attempt at petty theft, he walks woefully back home with his son in his hand. He's already failed at staying employed and providing for his family, but now he's also failed at being a suitable role model to his son. Watching Antonio and Bruno disappear into a crowd of so many more like them will suffocate you with emotion. —Rad S.