A Medal for Benny (1945)

77 or 79 mins | Drama | 29 June 1945

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Benny's Medal . A written foreword to the film states: "Pantera in the spring of 1942--a small California town which pretends for its own pride that it is a city. In the old part of town are the Paisanos--Americans of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. A simple, friendly people, they have been here for more than a hundred years, and are the original California settlers. This is a story of these people, but in particular the story of--- A Medal for Benny. " The character of Benny is never seen onscreen, but is only referred to in the story. Dorothy Lamour appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of A Medal for Benny on 15 Oct 1945. This film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Supporting Actor, J. Carroll Naish; and Best Writing (Original Story), John Steinbeck and Jack Wagner. Rosita Moreno, who portrayed "Toodles Castro" in the film, should not be confused with actress Rita Moreno (b. 1931) who also acted under the name Rosita Moreno early in her ... More Less

The working title of this film was Benny's Medal . A written foreword to the film states: "Pantera in the spring of 1942--a small California town which pretends for its own pride that it is a city. In the old part of town are the Paisanos--Americans of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. A simple, friendly people, they have been here for more than a hundred years, and are the original California settlers. This is a story of these people, but in particular the story of--- A Medal for Benny. " The character of Benny is never seen onscreen, but is only referred to in the story. Dorothy Lamour appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of A Medal for Benny on 15 Oct 1945. This film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Supporting Actor, J. Carroll Naish; and Best Writing (Original Story), John Steinbeck and Jack Wagner. Rosita Moreno, who portrayed "Toodles Castro" in the film, should not be confused with actress Rita Moreno (b. 1931) who also acted under the name Rosita Moreno early in her career. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Apr 1945.
---
Daily Variety
9 Apr 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Apr 45
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 44
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 45
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Sep 44
p. 2093.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Apr 45
p. 2401.
New York Times
25 Jun 1944.
---
New York Times
24 May 45
p. 15.
Variety
11 Apr 45
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Asst spec photog eff
Asst spec photog eff
Special photog eff
Asst spec photog eff, Matte paintings
Asst spec photog eff
Asst spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Benny's Medal
Release Date:
29 June 1945
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 May 1945
Production Date:
early June--late July 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 April 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13352
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
77 or 79
Length(in feet):
7,139
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10249
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1942, in Pantera, a small town in California, ne'er-do-well Joe Morales buys a fishing boat with Charley Martin's money in order to make a living so that he may marry Lolita Sierra. Lolita, however, is promised to Benny Martin, Charley's thieving son, who was exiled from town after a fracas in which he bit off and swallowed the end of a policeman's gun. After the boat sinks, Charley, who has been desperate for rent money since Benny left, is threatened with eviction. Lolita has not heard from Benny in months, but remains loyal to him and refuses Joe's affections. After Lolita's little brother Chito tells Joe that Benny was always buying Lolita gifts, Joe swindles the naïve Charley out of twenty-five dollars he needs for rent. He then buys Lolita a dress for the town dance, but she refuses it when she learns how he got it. At the dance, Joe arrives with a tough-talking woman named Toodles Castro, who claims to know Benny. When Lolita sees Toodles wearing the dress bought for her as well as Lolita's father's wedding ring that she had given to Benny, she fights Toodles, and Joe leaves humiliated. Lolita suddenly realizes she loves Joe and goes to him. When Charley attempts to use his animals as collateral for a bank loan, he is ignored. Meanwhile, the news wire reports that Benny Martin of Pantera is a war hero and is about to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for single-handedly killing one hundred Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. Joe, who meanwhile has sold the boat back to its original owner, ... +


In 1942, in Pantera, a small town in California, ne'er-do-well Joe Morales buys a fishing boat with Charley Martin's money in order to make a living so that he may marry Lolita Sierra. Lolita, however, is promised to Benny Martin, Charley's thieving son, who was exiled from town after a fracas in which he bit off and swallowed the end of a policeman's gun. After the boat sinks, Charley, who has been desperate for rent money since Benny left, is threatened with eviction. Lolita has not heard from Benny in months, but remains loyal to him and refuses Joe's affections. After Lolita's little brother Chito tells Joe that Benny was always buying Lolita gifts, Joe swindles the naïve Charley out of twenty-five dollars he needs for rent. He then buys Lolita a dress for the town dance, but she refuses it when she learns how he got it. At the dance, Joe arrives with a tough-talking woman named Toodles Castro, who claims to know Benny. When Lolita sees Toodles wearing the dress bought for her as well as Lolita's father's wedding ring that she had given to Benny, she fights Toodles, and Joe leaves humiliated. Lolita suddenly realizes she loves Joe and goes to him. When Charley attempts to use his animals as collateral for a bank loan, he is ignored. Meanwhile, the news wire reports that Benny Martin of Pantera is a war hero and is about to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for single-handedly killing one hundred Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. Joe, who meanwhile has sold the boat back to its original owner, returns Charley's money to Lolita. The mayor arrives to tell Charlie that his son is a hero, but sadly informs him that the medal is to be awarded posthumously by the governor and an army general. The chamber of commerce uses the event as a publicity stunt and sets Charley up in a beautiful house to avoid the embarrassment of showing him in his humble home. When Charley realizes the scheme, however, he refuses to go to the rally, and the general presents the medal at Charley's home. In his speech, Charley says that Benny will live on in his and Lolita's hearts. She then tells Joe that she cannot marry him yet, because it might break Charley's heart, so Joe volunteers for the army. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.