Like many of the cast members of Bicycle Thieves, Lamberto Maggiorani was not a professional actor. He was a factory worker personally chosen by De Sica because his physique—a tall, angular frame and sunken cheekbones—evoked the disposition of an ordinary, unsophisticated man and thereby made him an ideal choice for Antonio. His performance in The Bicycle Thieves catalyzed Maggiorani’s career, and he went on to star in several Italian films, although these roles never matched the success of his celebrated role as Antonio.
In an interview with the Criterion Collection, Enzo Staolia remarked that a car followed him around Rome when he was a young boy. He ran away because the city was dangerous at the time and child kidnapping rates were high. De Sica was the one following Staolia, and he purposely set up auditions for the role of Bruno near Staolia’s house. Once Staiola arrived at the auditions, De Sica said, “He’s the one,” and Staiola received the part without ever having to audition. He appeared in some other films, namely The Barefoot Contessa (1954) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner, but he became a math teacher in adulthood.
Like Staiola, Lianella Carell was fortuitously cast for her immediate visual appearance by De Sica. Carell was a young journalist set to interview De Sica, who insisted that she take a screen test for the role of Maria. Carell asserted that she was not an actress, but De Sica said, “The cinema needs you, your face. I need you.” Carell acted for about 10 years, followed by a fruitful screenwriting career, with credits including Love and Trouble (1958) starring Marcello Mastroianni and Carnal Circuit (1969) starring Dorothy Malone.
Gino Saltamerenda had a short yet productive career. In addition to Bicycle Thieves, he had supporting roles in Campane a martello (1949) starring Gina Lollobrigida and The Affairs of Messalina (1951).
Bicycle Thieves Questions and Answers
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Bicycle Thieves (also called The Bicycle Thief) study guide contains a biography of director Vittorio De Sica, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.