Shoeshine (film)

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Film poster
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Produced by Giuseppe Amato
Paolo William Tamburella
Written by Sergio Amidei
Adolfo Franci
Cesare Giulio Viola
Cesare Zavattini
Starring Franco Interlenghi
Rinaldo Smordoni
Annielo Mele
Bruno Ortenzi
Emilio Cigoli
Music by Alessandro Cicognini
Cinematography Anchise Brizzi
Edited by Niccolò Lazzari
Distributed by Lopert Pictures Corporation
Release date
  • 27 April 1946 (1946-04-27)
Running time
93 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian/English

Shoeshine (Italian: Sciuscià [ʃuʃˈʃa], from Italian pronunciation of the English) is a 1946 Italian film directed by Vittorio De Sica. Sometimes regarded as his first major work, the film follows two shoeshine boys who get into trouble with the police after trying to find the money to buy a horse.


Two friends, Giuseppe Filippucci (Rinaldo Smordoni) and Pasquale Maggi (Franco Interlenghi), test-ride horses. Though they are saving to purchase a horse, it is difficult for them to afford one, as they are only living off their income from shining shoes in the streets of Rome.

One day Giuseppe's older brother, Attilio, visits the boys and tells them that Panza (a fence) has some work for them. Pasquale brings Giuseppe along to meet Panza, who gives them two blankets to sell. Giuseppe and Pasquale bring the blankets to a fortune teller, who buys them. After the sale, Panza, Attilio, and another man burst into the fortune teller's house, posing as policemen. They accuse the fortune teller of handling stolen goods, and finding Giuseppe and Pasquale, force them out and pretend to take them into custody. Attilio tells the boys to go away and keep quiet, letting them keep the blanket money (2,800 lira) as well as 3,000 additional lira. With this money, the boys have enough to finally buy a horse.

After purchasing their horse and riding it, the boys return to the city. There the real police, accompanied by the fortune teller, bring them into the precinct for questioning. The police accuse the boys of stealing over 700,000 lira from the fortune teller's home, which obviously was stolen by Panza and Attilio, posing as the policemen. The boys deny all charges and do not mention their knowledge of the three true con men. Giuseppe and Pasquale are sent to a juvenile detention center.

On arrival, Giuseppe and Pasquale are separated.

Giuseppe receives a package from his mother filled with food and shares it with his fellow inmates in his own cell. Another inmate, Arcangeli, finds a note in a piece of the bread Giuseppe shares. It is from Attilio's boss, and it instructs him not to expose his brother and comrades regarding the con. Giuseppe informs Pasquale; they agree not to divulge the truth.

Later, the boys are called into the police chief's office for questioning. Frustrated, the chief threatens to beat the information out of them. Another policeman takes Giuseppe into a side room to beat him. Hidden from Pasquale's view, Giuseppe is taken back to his cell, while another child poses as Giuseppe's screaming voice. The policeman proceeds to flay a sandbag, while the child belts out false screams. Pasquale, thinking his friend was in unbearable pain, finally admits the names of Panza and Attilio to the police chief.

Giuseppe discovers that Pasquale confessed when his mother visits him and reveals that Attilio, his brother, has been informed on. Giuseppe confronts Pasquale in front of the other inmates, calling him a spy.

A file is planted in Pasquale's cell, and Pasquale is flogged. At their official court hearing, Giuseppe and Pasquale are respectively sentenced to one and two years in prison. Giuseppe commits to Arcangeli's escape plan. While a movie is being projected in the prison, they escape.

Pasquale tells the police chief where the escapees went and leads them there, but they have already escaped. Pasquale runs off and finds Giuseppe and Arcangeli riding on their horse across a bridge. They dismount and Arcangeli flees, but Giuseppe stays. Pasquale takes off his belt and starts to flog Giuseppe. Giuseppe falls off the bridge and hits his head on the rocks below. Pasquale cries over his fallen friend's body as the police arrive.



Shoeshine is among the first of the Italian neorealist films. In 1948, it received an Honorary Award at the Academy Awards for its high quality. This award was the precursor of what would later become the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The film inspired a comic book series, Sciuscià, which ran from 1949 to 1956.[1]


  1. ^ Franco Fossati. "Sciuscià". Dizionario Illustrato del Fumetto. Mondadori, 1992. pp. 231–2. ISBN 8804355441. 

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