The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969)

138 mins | Comedy-drama | 17 October 1969

Full page view
HISTORY

The 24 Aug 1966 Var announced that producer-director Stanley Kramer had acquired screen rights to Robert Crichton’s recently published novel, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, after frenzied bidding from other parties. Kramer paid $275,000 plus a fee for Crichton’s services as a technical advisor, according to the 21 Sep 1966 Var. Additional money was promised to Crichton if television rights were sold, and Kramer agreed to spend $25,000 to advertise the novel at the time of the film’s release, a figure that publisher Simon & Schuster was obligated to match. Paperback rights to the best-selling book were later acquired by Dell Publishing for $500,000, as reported in the 23 Nov 1966 Var, which also stated that Ladies Home Journal planned to print a segment of Crichton’s work in its Jan 1967 issue.
       At least two major sequences in the novel were omitted from the screenplay, due to time constraints, according to an 11 Aug 1968 LAT article: a three-day wedding feast held in a cave, and a “bacchanalian wine festival.” Also, while the character of “Babbaluche” is killed in the novel, he remains alive in the film.
       The Secret of Santa Vittoria was set to be Kramer’s last in a six-picture deal with United Artists (UA), the 14 Sep 1966 Var noted. Kramer was quoted in a 9 Jan 1969 DV brief as saying that he first offered the role of “Italo Bombolini” to Spencer Tracy, with whom he was working on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967, see entry), but Tracy declined, claiming his Italian accent was ... More Less

The 24 Aug 1966 Var announced that producer-director Stanley Kramer had acquired screen rights to Robert Crichton’s recently published novel, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, after frenzied bidding from other parties. Kramer paid $275,000 plus a fee for Crichton’s services as a technical advisor, according to the 21 Sep 1966 Var. Additional money was promised to Crichton if television rights were sold, and Kramer agreed to spend $25,000 to advertise the novel at the time of the film’s release, a figure that publisher Simon & Schuster was obligated to match. Paperback rights to the best-selling book were later acquired by Dell Publishing for $500,000, as reported in the 23 Nov 1966 Var, which also stated that Ladies Home Journal planned to print a segment of Crichton’s work in its Jan 1967 issue.
       At least two major sequences in the novel were omitted from the screenplay, due to time constraints, according to an 11 Aug 1968 LAT article: a three-day wedding feast held in a cave, and a “bacchanalian wine festival.” Also, while the character of “Babbaluche” is killed in the novel, he remains alive in the film.
       The Secret of Santa Vittoria was set to be Kramer’s last in a six-picture deal with United Artists (UA), the 14 Sep 1966 Var noted. Kramer was quoted in a 9 Jan 1969 DV brief as saying that he first offered the role of “Italo Bombolini” to Spencer Tracy, with whom he was working on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967, see entry), but Tracy declined, claiming his Italian accent was “lousy,” and recommended Anthony Quinn, instead. Quinn’s casting was confirmed in a 10 Aug 1967 LAT news brief. With Quinn on board, Kramer approached Max von Sydow to co-star, as stated in the 6 Dec 1967 Var. However, von Sydow’s participation was said to depend on the success of his upcoming production of Match Play, slated to open on Broadway in Mar 1968. Meanwhile, Quinn decided his character should be large and set about gaining thirty pounds for the role, the 26 Oct 1969 LAT reported.
       Italian actress Anna Magnani, who was cast opposite Quinn, had previously performed with him in 1958’s Wild Is the Wind (see entry). Magnani, who had a reputation for being tempestuous, reportedly arrived on the set of The Secret of Santa Vittoria “with a team of Italian writers,” hoping to convince Kramer to enhance her role, as stated in a 30 Aug 1968 LAT article. However, Kramer refused and Magnani backed down. The director and actress continued to have a strained relationship, according an interview with Kramer in the 19 Oct 1969 LAT, which stated that the actress had refused to be shot in profile and had sometimes declined to work for no reason.
       Production aides scouted over 150 villages before selecting the town of Anticoli Corrado, Italy, to stand in for Santa Vittoria, which was found to be too modernized and posed unpredictable weather conditions. The 26 Jun 1968 Var noted that, as an overture to Anticoli Corrado’s 1,200 inhabitants, Kramer arranged a gathering at the town square to address locals on “working together.” Filmmakers eventually ran into problems with some residents obstructing filming sites until they were paid off, the 18 Feb 1969 LAT reported. In addition, one man registered a song with the same melody as a local “nursery song” used in a bottle-passing scene, forcing Kramer to buy the rights to the newly copyrighted tune. The town was not altered heavily by the art department, although a bell steeple, a building façade, an archway, a water tower, and a statue of a turtle on a fountain were added. The 28 Aug 1968 Var stated that Anticoli Corrado would benefit from some improvements made by filmmakers, including upgrades to its electrical wiring system. Location fees were said to have been earmarked by local authorities for restoration of a church.
       Principal photography began on 17 Jun 1968, according to a 21 Jun 1968 DV production chart. The 26 Jun 1968 Var indicated that Kramer planned to capture only “direct sound,” thus necessitating English lessons for the Italian actors. Principal cast members Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi, Renato Rascel, Giancarlo Giannini, and Patrizia Valturri were said to have spent months working with dialogue coaches before shooting began. The picture was cited in a 23 Oct 1968 Var brief as “the first major film to use direct sound in Italy.”
       Following the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy on 6 Jun 1968, Italian crewmembers wrote Kramer a letter, offering to work an extra hour the following Saturday, 8 Jun 1968, in Kennedy’s honor. Kramer was moved by the gesture and stated that it had “no parallel in motion picture history.”
       The eighty-nine day production schedule was set to conclude with four weeks of filming at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy. Shooting ended on 15 Oct 1968, as stated in the 23 Oct 1968 Var, and a final production cost of $6 million was cited in the 9 Jan 1969 DV.
       Prior to filming, a promotional tie-in was established with the Italian company, Cinzano, which provided most of the 200,000 bottles of wine seen in the film, as noted in an 11 Aug 1968 LAT article, which called the picture “the longest and costliest ($5 million plus) ad for a trade name ever attempted by a commercial studio.” The 1 May 1968 Var noted that cross-promotions would include Cinzano sample giveaways at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
       A benefit premiere was scheduled to take place on 17 Oct 1969 at the Westwood Village Theatre in Westwood, CA. As noted in the 11 Jun 1969 Var, the picture was also slated to be the opening night attraction at the San Francisco International Film Festival on 23 Oct 1969. To coincide with theatrical release, the 23 Jul 1969 Var indicated that Dell would issue its paperback version of the Crichton novel, with cover art showing scenes from the film.
       Following mixed reviews, The Secret of Santa Vittoria went on to gross $2.7 million in film rentals by early 1971, according to a 6 Jan 1971 Var chart. It won a Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and received Academy Award nominations for Film Editing and Music (Original Score—for a motion picture [not a musical]). Golden Globe award nominations also went to Anthony Quinn for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy; Ernest Gold for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and Best Original Song – Motion Picture (“Stay”); Stanley Kramer for Best Director – Motion Picture; and Anna Magnani for Actress in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy.
       The picture was rated “M” by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the 3 Sep 1969 DV reported.
       An item in the 24 Apr 1968 Var stated that Charles Painter served as unit publicist. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Jan 1967
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1968
p. 12.
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
10 Aug 1967
Section D, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 1968
Section C, p. 1, 43.
Los Angeles Times
30 Aug 1968
Section E, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
18 Feb 1969
Section E, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
21 Sep 1969
Section WS, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
12 Oct 1969
Section V, p. 1, 13.
Los Angeles Times
19 Oct 1969
Section U, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1969
Section V, p. 19.
New York Times
30 Oct 1969
p. 58.
Variety
24 Aug 1966
p. 3.
Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 3.
Variety
14 Sep 1966
p. 4.
Variety
21 Sep 1966
p. 68.
Variety
23 Nov 1966
p. 68.
Variety
6 Dec 1967
p. 22.
Variety
24 Apr 1968
p. 22.
Variety
1 May 1968
p. 30.
Variety
8 May 1968
p. 47.
Variety
26 Jun 1968
p. 28.
Variety
28 Aug 1968
pp. 27-28.
Variety
23 Oct 1968
p. 18.
Variety
11 Jun 1969
p. 47.
Variety
23 Jul 1969
p. 70.
Variety
1 Oct 1969
p. 17.
Variety
6 Jan 1971
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton (New York, 1966).
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 October 1969
Premiere Information:
World premiere and Los Angeles opening: 17 October 1969
New York opening: 29 October 1969
Production Date:
17 June--15 October 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Kramer Corp.
Copyright Date:
17 October 1969
Copyright Number:
LP37275
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
138
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22190
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Italo Bombolini, a wine merchant in Santa Vittoria, celebrates news of Mussolini's death in 1945 by painting over an old fascist slogan. This act wins him the post of mayor. He imprisons the fascists as a gesture to the populace and, optimistic that a good government will work, reads Machiavelli's The Prince and forms a grand council. Soon Italo's son-in-law rushes into town with news that the retreating Germans are headed toward Santa Vittoria, intending to occupy the town and commandeer the wine supply, Santa Vittoria's chief source of wealth. Italo takes it upon himself to save the wine and commands the townspeople to form a "bucket brigade" to transport one million bottles to an old Roman cave just outside of town. The villagers complete their task just before the Germans, led by Captain Sepp von Prum, arrive and begin looking for the wine they know exists. Italo allows them to find a small cache of a few thousand bottles and the Germans decide to confiscate half. The SS arrives and informs von Prum that there is a great deal more than a few thousand bottles. Von Prum tries various means of obtaining the wine, but none work. Finally, von Prum and his men are ordered to leave. Von Prum, in a last attempt, puts a gun to Italo's head and asks the townspeople for information about the wine; no one comes forward. Von Prum admits defeat and departs, respectful of the man he had thought of as a ... +


Italo Bombolini, a wine merchant in Santa Vittoria, celebrates news of Mussolini's death in 1945 by painting over an old fascist slogan. This act wins him the post of mayor. He imprisons the fascists as a gesture to the populace and, optimistic that a good government will work, reads Machiavelli's The Prince and forms a grand council. Soon Italo's son-in-law rushes into town with news that the retreating Germans are headed toward Santa Vittoria, intending to occupy the town and commandeer the wine supply, Santa Vittoria's chief source of wealth. Italo takes it upon himself to save the wine and commands the townspeople to form a "bucket brigade" to transport one million bottles to an old Roman cave just outside of town. The villagers complete their task just before the Germans, led by Captain Sepp von Prum, arrive and begin looking for the wine they know exists. Italo allows them to find a small cache of a few thousand bottles and the Germans decide to confiscate half. The SS arrives and informs von Prum that there is a great deal more than a few thousand bottles. Von Prum tries various means of obtaining the wine, but none work. Finally, von Prum and his men are ordered to leave. Von Prum, in a last attempt, puts a gun to Italo's head and asks the townspeople for information about the wine; no one comes forward. Von Prum admits defeat and departs, respectful of the man he had thought of as a buffoon. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.