Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Umberto D. (1952)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Umberto D. (1952, It.)

In Vittorio De Sica's neo-realist, classic Italian New Wave - a sentimental and heartbreaking melodramatic tearjerker, and a poignant character study of a man tragically pushed to his limits:

  • in the film's opening, elderly pensioners chanted and carried signs as they protested in the streets of central Rome, but were dispersed by the police for not having a permit; one of the protestors was destitute, elderly, retired government worker/pensioner Umberto Domenico Ferrari (Carlo Battisti) who faced financial ruin - he was a lonely senior citizen with no family or close ties, who had worked for 30 years as a clerk for the Ministry of Public Affairs; in a local soup kitchen, Umberto snuck food to his faithful pet dog Flike from his plate
  • his meager monthly fixed-income pension was slashed, and his heartless, callous and tyrannical landlady Antonia Belloni (Lina Gennari) (with self-absorbed aspirations to be in show business) of ten years threatened to evict him at the end of the month from the boarding house, and rent out his room to prostitutes and other couples for quick sex
  • the only truly close friends and dependent relationships Umberto had were with his faithful spotted terrier pet Flike, and with teenaged, caring, and sympathetic 3-months pregnant house-maid Maria (Maria Pia Casilio); she was unsure if the father of her child in the Italian military was from Florence or Naples
  • in one transcendent scene that followed her early morning routine, Maria (who was facing a difficult future too, if the landlady found out she was pregnant) roused herself out of bed to perform her menail chores, including grinding coffee beans in the kitchen
  • after a case of tonsillitis and a few days in the comfort of a Catholic-run charity infirmary, Umberto returned to his apartment building to find his room being destroyed during renovations; Maria had taken care of Flike during his absence, but she confessed that Flike had disappeared through an open apartment door and had run off (had the landlady spitefully let the dog out?); fortunately, Flike was located in the local pound and the two were overjoyed with being reunited
  • in the film's tearjerking, ambiguous ending, without any money and feeling distraught and defeated with nowhere to turn, the hopeless Umberto packed up his room and departed: ("I have no one, no son or brother, to help me out. I'm just a good-for-nothing old man"); after numerous failed attempts to give his dog away (rather than cruelly abandoning it), Umberto became desperate but still remained calm and logical
  • homeless and penniless with no monetary sources (and hateful of turning into a shameless beggar or debtor), Umberto contemplated suicide by stepping in front of a speeding train near a park while holding Flike -- the frightened dog yelped, wriggled and squirmed away before Umberto could step in front of the train, and for the first time, ran away in abject fear from his beloved master
  • Umberto pursued after Flike, and coaxed the forgiving Flike back to him by having the dog perform tricks with a pine cone: ("Flike, look at the pinecone. Come on, here, boy. Come on, stand up"); he played with the dog (trained to stand on its hind legs) in a long shot as the film ended, despite having no place to stay and no income

Evicted by Heartless Landlady Antonia Belloni (Lina Gennari)

Umberto with Dog Flike

Umberto's Suicide Attempt With Flike In His Arms

Flike Coaxed Back With Tricks


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