Antonio Ricci is, like everyone else, looking for work. His luck changes as he is offered a job as a "bill poster" (pasting posters) but he is told that he needs a bike in order to accept the job. His family sell the bed linen in order to buy back the bicycle that he pawned previously and he gets the job.
While out putting up posters, Antonio's bicycle is stolen. He and his son Bruno then go out to search for the bicycle thieves.
Though the storyline is very weak - Antonio Ricci is looking for his bike - the messages that it conveys are fulfilling. The desperate nature of the Italian people is evident, so much so that in the final moving scene, Antonio threatens to become one of the men that he has chased throughout the film.
Also on show is the importance of family. Despite Bruno's eagerness to help - he is very mature for his young years - he is often neglected by his father who has other pressing matters to attend to. A showdown between father an son occurs to which Antonio realises the error of his ways.
A little basic for some, but full of emotion.