A Bell for Adano (1945)

103-104 mins | Drama | August 1945

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HISTORY

The film's title card reads "John Hersey's A Bell for Adano ." In onscreen credits, Eduardo Ciannelli's name as misspelled as "Edwardo." According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Fox paid Hersey $85,000 for the motion pictures rights to his novel. The studio also guaranteed a bonus of twenty cents per copy sold, with the total bonus not to exceed $15,000. Under the agreement, Hersey was given ninety days to obtain approval from the War Department to incorporate into the film the plot, theme episodes and characters contained in his novel. Hersey failed to meet his deadline, however, and the studio then obtained its own clearances. According to a Jul 1944 NYT news item, the War Department was concerned that the film would adhere to the novel's unflattering portrayal of "General McKay," in which the officer's dictatorial behavior caused the villager's woes. The War Department was relieved when "the inconveniences suffered by the townspeople in the film were presented as the natural consequences of war, and not the result of any one person."
       Materials in the legal records disclose that the character of "Major Joppolo" was based on Lt. Col. Frank E. Toscani, who served as the senior civil affairs officer of the American military government in Licata, Italy. In Feb 1946, Toscani sued Fox, Hersey and Hersey's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, theatrical producer Leland Hayward and playwright Paul Osborn (who produced and wrote a Broadway play based on Hersey's novel), for $225,000, charging that he had been "damaged by being portrayed as Major Joppolo." Toscani claimed that ... More Less

The film's title card reads "John Hersey's A Bell for Adano ." In onscreen credits, Eduardo Ciannelli's name as misspelled as "Edwardo." According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Fox paid Hersey $85,000 for the motion pictures rights to his novel. The studio also guaranteed a bonus of twenty cents per copy sold, with the total bonus not to exceed $15,000. Under the agreement, Hersey was given ninety days to obtain approval from the War Department to incorporate into the film the plot, theme episodes and characters contained in his novel. Hersey failed to meet his deadline, however, and the studio then obtained its own clearances. According to a Jul 1944 NYT news item, the War Department was concerned that the film would adhere to the novel's unflattering portrayal of "General McKay," in which the officer's dictatorial behavior caused the villager's woes. The War Department was relieved when "the inconveniences suffered by the townspeople in the film were presented as the natural consequences of war, and not the result of any one person."
       Materials in the legal records disclose that the character of "Major Joppolo" was based on Lt. Col. Frank E. Toscani, who served as the senior civil affairs officer of the American military government in Licata, Italy. In Feb 1946, Toscani sued Fox, Hersey and Hersey's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, theatrical producer Leland Hayward and playwright Paul Osborn (who produced and wrote a Broadway play based on Hersey's novel), for $225,000, charging that he had been "damaged by being portrayed as Major Joppolo." Toscani claimed that the novel "recklessly, maliciously and falsely states certain defamatory matters. In particular, Toscani, a married man, objected to Joppolo's love affair and to the fact that the officer was shown countermanding an order from a superior. In Nov 1946, an appellate course dismissed the suit on the grounds that the law was not "intended to give a living person cause...for damages based on the mere portrayal of acts and events concerning a person designated fictiously in a novel or play."
       HR news items yield the following information about the production: Dana Andrews, Gary Cooper and James Cagney were all considered for the role of Joppolo. A Jul 1944 NYT news item adds that Spencer Tracy was also considered for the role. John Hodiak was finally borrowed from M-G-M to star as the major. According to a Jun 1947 article in SEP , Joppolo was Hodiak's favorite role. Although an Oct 1944 item states that Estelle Taylor was to be tested for a part, she was not in the released film. A 3 Nov 1944 HR production chart also places Allyn Joslyn in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. According to materials in the legal files, Eula Morgan was originally cast as "Rosa." For their outstanding work during the mob scene, Minerva Urecal, Mimi Aguglia, Elvira Curci, Nick Thompson, Antonio Filauri, Valeria Caravacci and Carmen Castellano were awarded larger roles in the film, according to a Nov 1944 news item. An Oct 1944 item adds that location filming was done at Brent's Crags, CA.
       Hersey's novel was also the basis for Paul Osborn's 1945 Broadway play A Bell for Adano , starring Fredric March. On 2 Jun 1956, CBS broadcast a televised version of Hersey's story, starring Barry Sullivan and Anna Maria Alberghetti and directed by Paul Nickell, and on 15 Nov 1967, The Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast a version starring John Forsythe and Murray Hamilton and directed by Mel Ferrer. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Jun 1945.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jun 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Jun 45
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 May 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 44
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 44
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 45
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 45
p. 8.
Life
18 Dec 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Dec 45
p. 2243.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Jun 45
p. 2510.
New York Times
23 Jul 1944.
---
New York Times
6 Jul 45
p. 8.
The Saturday Evening Post
28 Jun 1947.
---
Variety
20 Jun 45
p. 11.
Variety
4 Dec 46
p. 2.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Montague Banks
Hector V. Sarno
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
Mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Miniatures
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel A Bell for Adano by John Hersey (New York, 1944).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
John Hersey's A Bell for Adano
Release Date:
August 1945
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 6 July 1945
Production Date:
early November 1944--mid January 1945
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 July 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13530
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
103-104
Length(in feet):
9,358
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10570
SYNOPSIS

In the waning days of World War II, Major Joppolo, an American of Italian descent, arrives in the small Sicilian town of Adano to take control of the local government which has been in disarray ever since its mayor and other Fascist government officials fled. Joppolo finds the town ravaged by war, its populace of women and old men demoralized by deprivation and the corruption of their Fascist oppressors. Surrounded by remnants of the vanquished Fascist regime, Zoppolo is greeted by Zito and Giuseppe, two of the townsmen who eagerly offer their services. Questioned by Joppolo about what their town needs most, the men lament the loss of their beloved church bell, a loss that overwhelms their hunger and other hardships. After Father Pensovecchio explains that the peals of the bell regulated the daily rhythms of life in the village, Joppolo asks the priest's help in convincing his flock to accept the new American rule. Wary of life under a conquering government, the priest tests Joppolo's sincerity by inviting him to Mass. When the major fulfills his commitment by appearing at the church, he earns the priest's confidence. Later, the major wins the respect of the townspeople when he mandates that government officials will have no special privileges in the bread lines. To secure food for the village, Joppolo asks to see Tomasino, the town's stubborn fishing chief, who has renounced his trade. When Tomasino refuses to come to headquarters, Joppolo goes to his fishing boat, trailed by the women of the village. Suspicious of authority, Tomasino is certain that Joppolo intends to impose a tax on his catch until ... +


In the waning days of World War II, Major Joppolo, an American of Italian descent, arrives in the small Sicilian town of Adano to take control of the local government which has been in disarray ever since its mayor and other Fascist government officials fled. Joppolo finds the town ravaged by war, its populace of women and old men demoralized by deprivation and the corruption of their Fascist oppressors. Surrounded by remnants of the vanquished Fascist regime, Zoppolo is greeted by Zito and Giuseppe, two of the townsmen who eagerly offer their services. Questioned by Joppolo about what their town needs most, the men lament the loss of their beloved church bell, a loss that overwhelms their hunger and other hardships. After Father Pensovecchio explains that the peals of the bell regulated the daily rhythms of life in the village, Joppolo asks the priest's help in convincing his flock to accept the new American rule. Wary of life under a conquering government, the priest tests Joppolo's sincerity by inviting him to Mass. When the major fulfills his commitment by appearing at the church, he earns the priest's confidence. Later, the major wins the respect of the townspeople when he mandates that government officials will have no special privileges in the bread lines. To secure food for the village, Joppolo asks to see Tomasino, the town's stubborn fishing chief, who has renounced his trade. When Tomasino refuses to come to headquarters, Joppolo goes to his fishing boat, trailed by the women of the village. Suspicious of authority, Tomasino is certain that Joppolo intends to impose a tax on his catch until the major convinces him he only wants to feed the people of Adano. With the help of Lt. Livingstone, a naval officer, Tomasino and his fleet are soon trolling the waters once more. In gratitude, the fishermen send Tina, Tomasino's attractive blonde daughter, to invite Joppolo to dinner. The major, meanwhile, has discovered that the town bell has been melted down. He offers to replace it with a Liberty bell, but the townspeople reject the idea of a cracked bell. When General McKay, Joppolo's commanding officer, orders the main road to Adano to be cleared of all mule carts and other civilian vehicles to make room for military convoys, the villagers dolefully gather outside the major's office to plead that they will perish unless they are allowed to transport food and water into town. Touched by their plight, the major countermands the order over the objections of Capt. Purvis, one of the officers under his command. When Purvis decides to report Joppolo's insubordination to Col. Middleton, the Provost Marshall, Joppolo's sympathetic assistant, Sgt. Borth, stashes the report under a stack of papers on Purvis' desk. That night at Tomasino's house, Tina confides to Joppolo that she dyed her hair blonde to be different, and he tells her about life in the Bronx and mentions that he has a wife. Soon after, Purvis answers the phone at headquarters and is chastised by Middleton for not promptly sending his reports. When Purvis discovers that the letter regarding Joppolo's insubordination is still sitting on his desk, he orders it to be sent immediately, but Borth sabotages the delivery by addressing it to Algiers. After Joppolo's request for a replacement bell is denied, the major turns to Lt. Livingstone. Livingstone's friend, Commander Robertson, recalls a bell on a destroyer commanded by an old shipmate and promises to help. Late one night, a lonely Joppolo visits Tina and she asks him to find out about the status of her soldier sweetheart, Giorgio. Sensing that the major has fallen in love with her, Tina suggests that his desire for her is fueled by his longing for his wife. Soon after, the town's young men return from war and are eagerly welcomed by the women. Giorgio is not among them, however, and Joppolo comforts the grieving Tina as Giorgio's friend, Nicolo, recounts how Giorgio met his death while trying to rally a mob of drunken, disillusioned soldiers. Just as Middleton finally receives the misdirected letter, Robertson delivers to Adano an impressive new bell found in the waters off the African coast. As the town rejoices, a cable arrives from Middleton, notifying Joppolo that he has been relieved of duty for insubordination and must immediately report to Algiers. Opening the cable, Borth decides to withhold the news from Joppolo until after the party to be held that night in his honor. Later, in his office, the villagers unveil a portrait of Joppolo, and after they leave, the major studies the painting, speechless. His reverie is interrupted by the drunken Borth, who blurts out that the major has been relieved of duty and then bursts into tears. Joppolo finds solace in a final dance with Tina, and the next morning, as the bell tolls for the first time, he leaves town, unable to bid farewell to his friends. +

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

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