Vittorio De Sica (1901-1974) was one of the most important filmmakers in the history of Italian cinema. He seemed destined for a career in banking or politics, but became an actor while still in his teens. His good looks helped make him a matinee idol and he eventually starred in 166 films. In 1940, he turned to directing and quickly made his mark as one of the most important directors of the Italian neorealism movement. Neorealism was interested in real, everyday people and capturing the life of poverty-stricken Italy with gritty accuracy. Like other neorealist directors, he rejected the conventions of Hollywood and worked with inexperienced actors. He was especially gifted at this, and his skill in directing children in particular is notable. During much of his career, he worked closely with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, making his most famous films together. Towards the end of his career, he strayed away from neorealism, as many other important Italian filmmakers were doing. His most important and famous film was The Bicycle Thief (1948), and if you haven't seen it, you should.

De Sica directed 35 films. Some of the most important include:

The Children Are Watching Us 1942
Shoeshine 1946
Miracle in Milan 1950
Umberto D 1951
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 1963
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis 1971
A Brief Vacation 1974