A retired man living on a pension owes rent and is threatened with eviction. The maid who is pregnant and his dog seem to be his only true friends.
In Rome pensioners demonstrate and are ordered to disperse. Police in cars make them do so. Older men are served food. Umberto D. Ferrari (Carlo Battisti) sells his watch for a bag of money, and he finds a couple in his room. The landlady Antonia (Lina Gennari) says he must leave at the end of the month because of his arrears. The maid Maria (Maria Pia Casilio) tells Umberto that she is pregnant by one of two men. He gives her some money for the rent, but Antonia says she wants all 15,000 lire or nothing.
Umberto goes out and sells two books. He gives Maria 5,000 and says he will pay the rest when he gets his pension; but his money is returned. Umberto goes to bed. Antonia sings for guests.
Umberto makes a call and gives an address. Maria wakes up and makes coffee. Two men in white arrive and ask who is sick. Umberto tells Maria that he will be back, and they carry him out.
In a hospital a doctor says to swab his throat and release him the next day. Maria visits Umberto, who says he won’t go to the poorhouse. Her boyfriend leaves her. Umberto goes home and sees men working on his room. Umberto looks for his dog and asks Maria where he is. Umberto goes to the kennel and finds his dog.
On the street Umberto confronts Antonia. He sees a man he knows and says he needs 2,000 lire. Umberto sees a man begging. Umberto is ashamed to put out his hand, but he puts his hat in his dog’s mouth who begs while Umberto hides. Another friend takes a bus.
Umberto goes home, and Maria gives him cake. He says he is tired. He packs a larger suitcase. Maria asks Umberto where he is going. He says he found another place and tells her not to stay there. She says her family would beat her.
Umberto takes a streetcar with his dog and has to say he is hunting. He considers leaving his dog with a couple who have many dogs; but the dogs are unhappy, and he changes his mind.
Umberto sits on a bench and watches children. He offers to give his dog to a little girl, but her nursemaid says no. Umberto tries to hide, but his dog finds him. Umberto stands by the track as a speeding train goes by. The dog goes away, and Umberto follows him. They play together.
This realistic drama sensitively portrays the struggle of an aged man who does not have enough income for his basic needs. The maid also has been abandoned by her lover and her family. Thus poverty is seen from two different perspectives.