Umberto Domenico Ferrari, the main character in this movie, is an old man who lives alone in an apartemen with his dog Flike. The movie begins with a march where elderly men demand better pension. We soon will learn that not all of them who join the march are in need like Umberto. Umberto has 2 things in his life: his dignity and his loyal dog Flike. Perhaps he will do better if he becomes a beggar. He will not have to sell his watch if he begs, for when he sells the watch, who else who buys it but a beggar. Perhaps his pension is enough if he stays in cheaper apartment. I do not know about the price, but is 15,000 lira per month the best price he can get for an apartement? His landlady is also eager to get rid of him, for she refuses when Umberto only can pay her half of the price. The landlady's maid, Maria, helps him whenever she can, although if the landlady finds out, she will be angry to both of them.
Throughout the whole movie we see how Umberto tries to survive. His dignity forbids him to beg, and once he tries to make Flike begs for him. (This particular scene is very cute.) When all hope is gone, he has an idea to kill himself to end the suffering, but before that, he must find a place for Flike. He first tries to leave him with a couple who keeps many dogs, but after knowing Flike will not be well taken care of there, he takes Flike with him again. After that he tries to give Flike to a little girl whom he knows likes Flike, but the girl isn't allowed to keep a dog at home. He tries to abandon Flike in a park, but the loyal dog keeps following him. When at last he takes Flike along to commit suicide, the dog senses the danger and becomes hostile to him. However, Flike and Umberto cannot be separated, and this movie ends happily.