For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)

166-168, 170 or 175 mins | Drama | 1943

Director:

Sam Wood

Writer:

Dudley Nichols

Cinematographer:

Ray Rennahan

Production Designer:

William Cameron Menzies

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The synopsis is based on the first version of the film that was released, which includes the various flashback scenes. These scenes were cut after preview screenings of the film (see note below). The film opens with the following written quote from John Donne's "Sermon III": "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." In 1936, Spain was plunged into a three-year-long civil war, during which General Francisco Franco Bahamonde took over leadership of the government and allied with Fascist Italian and Nazi German sympathizers. Several hundred Americans fought on the side of the Loyalists, those citizens who were against Franco's takeover. The war ended in 1939, after Franco became the head of state. Author Ernest Hemingway worked as a correspondent in Spain during the war. In 1940, Paramount paid $150,000 for the film rights to Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls , which, at the time, was reportedly the highest price paid for screen rights to a novel. The NYT noted that "according to the contract, Paramount paid Hemingway $100,000 for the property, agreeing to an additional 10 cents a copy for each volume sold up to 500,000." Plans for a film based on the novel began in Oct 1940 with Cecil B. DeMille slated to direct. DeMille left the project so that he could direct Rurales , but that film was never made. According to his autobiography, DeMille gave his plans and the partial script, written by Jeanie Macpherson, to Paramount. The extent to which ... More Less

The synopsis is based on the first version of the film that was released, which includes the various flashback scenes. These scenes were cut after preview screenings of the film (see note below). The film opens with the following written quote from John Donne's "Sermon III": "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." In 1936, Spain was plunged into a three-year-long civil war, during which General Francisco Franco Bahamonde took over leadership of the government and allied with Fascist Italian and Nazi German sympathizers. Several hundred Americans fought on the side of the Loyalists, those citizens who were against Franco's takeover. The war ended in 1939, after Franco became the head of state. Author Ernest Hemingway worked as a correspondent in Spain during the war. In 1940, Paramount paid $150,000 for the film rights to Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls , which, at the time, was reportedly the highest price paid for screen rights to a novel. The NYT noted that "according to the contract, Paramount paid Hemingway $100,000 for the property, agreeing to an additional 10 cents a copy for each volume sold up to 500,000." Plans for a film based on the novel began in Oct 1940 with Cecil B. DeMille slated to direct. DeMille left the project so that he could direct Rurales , but that film was never made. According to his autobiography, DeMille gave his plans and the partial script, written by Jeanie Macpherson, to Paramount. The extent to which DeMille's plans were used in the final film has not been determined. According to Paramount publicity, Hemingway modeled his main character, "Robert Jordan," after Gary Cooper, and urged Paramount to cast both Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in the lead roles. Sam Wood agreed to direct Cooper, a Samuel Goldwyn contract star, in Goldwyn's film The Pride of the Yankees (see below), in exchange for the loan of Cooper to Paramount for this film. HR news items noted that the following actors and actresses were considered for roles in this film: MacDonald Carey as "Robert"; Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Pola Negri, Annabella, Fay McKenzie, Cecilia Callejo, Madeleine LeBeau, Barbara Britton, Esther Fernández, Tatiana Graslich and Betty Field as "Maria"; Ethel Barrymore, Flora Robson, Alla Nazimova and Blanche Yurka as "Pilar"; Edward G. Robinson, Lee J. Cobb, Albert Dekker, J. Carroll Naish , Fritz Kortner and Fortunio Bonanova as "Pablo"; Humphrey Bogart as "Pablo" and "Rafael"; Lynne Overman and Harold Huber as "Rafael"; Marc Lawrence as "Fernando"; and Oscar Homolka, Gilbert Roland and George Lewis for undetermined roles. Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following: Vera Zorina was originally cast as "Maria," but was replaced after two weeks of shooting by Ingrid Bergman, director Wood's original choice, because the producer and director were dissatisfied with Zorina's performance and appearance. Bergman was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company for the production. Retakes were made in early Aug 1942 due to the change in casting. Edward Ciannelli was originally cast as "Gustavo." HR news items also reported the following: Spanish composer Francisco Avellan was hired to work on the score. The bell seen tolling at the end of the film was loaned by the State of California, and originally was located at La Purisima Mission in Lompoc. According to information in the press book, director Wood began production in Nov 1941 because snow conditions in the Sierra Mountains were appropriate for the setting of the film, despite the fact that he had not yet cast the lead roles. Plans to film the airplane sequences on 7 Dec 1941 were delayed due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in the grounding of all commercial planes. Paramount then had to register their pilots and planes with the Civil Aeronautics Administration and receive U.S. Army approval before they were allowed to shoot the airplane sequences. The production crew returned to the Sierra Mountains in the summer of 1942 to continue shooting. Specific locations included the Lumsden bridge near the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park. Additional shooting took place in the Sonora Pass, CA. The film's final production cost was $2,681,298. According to news items and an article in Movieland , the State Department demanded that the term "Fascist" be removed from the film due to concerns that the Spanish government might protest the film. The term "Nationalist" was used instead. In a NYT article, producer B. G. DeSylva denied that the State Department ever took an interest in the film, but noted that the Spanish Consul in San Francisco, CA, read the initial script and recommended changes; however, those suggestions were ignored. Although the PCA expressed concern about the political controversies that might arise over the picture, the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that the primary concern was that the film should not depict an "illicit sex affair" between "Robert" and "Maria." They recommended that the filmmakers "omit entirely from the picture the sleeping bag" sequence, and that they should "endeavor to remove...the suggestion that Maria has been raped." Both elements were retained in the film. For Whom the Bell Tolls was banned in Spain, and only showed for the first time in that country in 1978, three years after Franco's death. The film had its premiere on 14 Jul 1943 in New York City, and the proceeds were donated to the National War Fund. In its initial road-show release in 1943, the film included the flashback in which "Pilar" recalls how she and fellow "Republicans" tortured "Nationalist" prisoners. The DV commented as follows: "The questionable phase of the picture...is the sequence where Pilar recites in retrospect the atrocities committed by herself, Pablo and the Loyalist civilians upon captive Nationalist partisans in the gruesome gauntlet-of-death scene. These are the 'heroes,' the sympathetically viewed folk of the picture, who are shown committing abysmal horrors....The whole horror sequence, however, is so arranged that it could be cut out without destroying the continuity or the integrity of the picture." The film's press-preview length was approximately 17,000 feet. According to HR news items and information in the MPAA/PCA file, it was cut by approximately 1,237 feet for the road-show release, after being approved by the PCA. This cut included a scene with actors George Coulouris and Konstantin Shayne, as well as 1,000 feet of battle footage, according to a NYT article. In accordance with their special release plan, Paramount withdrew the film from its road-show in Aug 1944, and prepared it for standard release in 1945. Further cuts were made to the film for the 1945 release, including the deletion of the "atrocities" scene. A 1946 letter in the MPAA/PCA file notes that Paramount executives anticipated cutting approximately 3,000 additional feet. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Screenwriter Louis Bromfield, who worked on the script prior to Dudley Nichols, left out any reference to political alliances in the screenplay, and included an ending in which "Maria" recalls "Robert's" final words as she rides to safety toward Gredos. Through his agent, Hemingway urged Paramount to include mention of the ideals of the Republicans, who were fighting Fascism. Shortly after filming on For Whom the Bell Tolls began, Warner Bros. called Bergman back for retakes in Casablanca , but she had cut her hair for the role of Maria and was unavailable. Bergman's short hair became a popular style for American women. Greek actress Katina Paxinou, in her screen debut, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. The film was also nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Actor (Gary Cooper); Best Supporting Actor (Akim Tamiroff); Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman); Art Direction/Interior Decoration (Color); Cinematography (Color); Film Editing, (Sherman Todd and John Link); Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Jul 1943.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1943
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
15 Jul 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 41
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 42
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 42
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 42
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 45
p. 1.
Motion Picture Daily
17 Jul 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald
17 Jul 43
p. 37.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jul 43
pp. 1441-42.
Movieland
Feb 1943.
---
New York Herald Tribune
15 Aug 1943.
---
New York Times
3 Nov 1940.
---
New York Times
4 Jan 1942.
---
New York Times
14 Feb 1943.
---
New York Times
30 May 1943.
---
New York Times
15 Jul 43
p. 25.
New York Times
21 Jul 1943.
---
New York Times
5 Aug 1978.
---
Time
2 Aug 43
pp. 55-60.
Variety
21 Jul 43
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
And introducing
Adia Kuznetzoff
Marjorie Deanne
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sam Wood Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir and 2d unit dir
2d asst dir
Tech dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Stills
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop dept supv
COSTUMES
Women's ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Orch
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Bus mgr
Asst bus mgr
Casting dir
Casting
Scr clerk
Loc mgr
Company grip
Wrangler
STAND INS
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Double for Gary Cooper
Stand-in for Ingrid Bergman
Double
Double
Double
Double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Col tech
Col tech
Col control
Loader
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (New York, 1940).
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 14 July 1943
Production Date:
November--December 1941
2 July--5 September 1942
9 September--31 October 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 July 1943
Copyright Number:
LP13099
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
166-168, 170 or 175
Length(in reels):
19
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7982
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, American teacher-turned-Republican soldier Robert Jordan reluctantly keeps his promise to kill his compatriot Kashkin after he is wounded while escaping from a Nationalist troop train they have blown up, so that Kashkin will not be captured. Robert, known as "Roberto" by the Spaniards, then goes to Madrid to report to Republican General Golz. In the midst of an air raid, Golz assigns Robert to blow up a strategic bridge at dawn, the exact moment the Republicans are to launch a surprise air assault. Golz gives Robert three days to prepare, and sends him to hide in the mountains with an older Spanish guide named Anselmo. After spying on the Nationalist outpost near the bridge, Anselmo leads Robert to a mountain cave, which serves as a hideout for a small band of guerrilla soldiers and Gypsy refugees led by a man named Pablo. Robert hides the dynamite in the cave and meets his new compatriots: Pablo, a relentless freedom fighter now reduced to a surly drunkard; Pilar, Pablo's homely but courageous wife; Rafael, a cheerful gypsy; Primitivo; Andres; Fernando; and Maria, a young Spanish refugee who was brutalized by the Nationalists after they murdered her parents, and was then rescued from a prison train by Pablo and his gang. Robert seeks the gypsies' help to carry out his orders, but, fearing a Nationalist reprisal, Pablo refuses. Pilar then frankly informs Robert that she no longer trusts Pablo, and rallies the others to back her. Late that night, Maria warns Robert to be wary of Pablo, who is now hostile because Pilar has taken command of the little group. The next morning, Fernando ... +


In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, American teacher-turned-Republican soldier Robert Jordan reluctantly keeps his promise to kill his compatriot Kashkin after he is wounded while escaping from a Nationalist troop train they have blown up, so that Kashkin will not be captured. Robert, known as "Roberto" by the Spaniards, then goes to Madrid to report to Republican General Golz. In the midst of an air raid, Golz assigns Robert to blow up a strategic bridge at dawn, the exact moment the Republicans are to launch a surprise air assault. Golz gives Robert three days to prepare, and sends him to hide in the mountains with an older Spanish guide named Anselmo. After spying on the Nationalist outpost near the bridge, Anselmo leads Robert to a mountain cave, which serves as a hideout for a small band of guerrilla soldiers and Gypsy refugees led by a man named Pablo. Robert hides the dynamite in the cave and meets his new compatriots: Pablo, a relentless freedom fighter now reduced to a surly drunkard; Pilar, Pablo's homely but courageous wife; Rafael, a cheerful gypsy; Primitivo; Andres; Fernando; and Maria, a young Spanish refugee who was brutalized by the Nationalists after they murdered her parents, and was then rescued from a prison train by Pablo and his gang. Robert seeks the gypsies' help to carry out his orders, but, fearing a Nationalist reprisal, Pablo refuses. Pilar then frankly informs Robert that she no longer trusts Pablo, and rallies the others to back her. Late that night, Maria warns Robert to be wary of Pablo, who is now hostile because Pilar has taken command of the little group. The next morning, Fernando reveals that he had sneaked away from camp to spend the night in town with his wife, and overheard Nationalists discussing rumors of a Republican attack at the bridge. Pilar, Maria and Robert hike through the mountains to meet with the rebel El Sordo, a gypsy renegade, who promises to steal the horses they will require for their escape after the bombing. Sensing the attraction between Robert and Maria, Pilar purposely leaves them alone together, and they fall in love. A snowstorm blows in that night, and everyone worries that Nationalist guards scouting the mountains may follow the tracks of El Sordo's stolen horses to their outpost. Pablo's drunken ravings prompt his compatriots to throw him out, even though they need his intimate knowledge of the mountains to help them escape after the attack. After Pablo leaves, Pilar tells Robert that Pablo was not always a coward, and that when the war broke out, he was a fearless leader. Noting that he organized the citizens against a Nationalist attack, Pilar recounts how Pablo saved their town: One morning, Pablo blows up the wall around city hall after the Nationalists refuse to surrender, then mercilessly shoots four guards who approach him with their hands up. Pablo takes over the building and sends out city officials one by one to the angry mob of local citizens. All of the officials are brutally attacked by the mob and then thrown off a high cliff to their deaths. Pilar is sickened by the savagery of her countrymen and refuses to take part. Back in the present, Pilar recalls that when Pablo allowed the mob into the building, they killed the rest of their prisoners. When Pablo returns to the cave, he has a changed attitude and tells Pilar that he regrets his past brutality, and if he could, would restore life to every man he killed. Now sober, Pablo pledges his support for the bridge attack. The next day, Robert spots a Nationalist cavalryman near the cave and shoots him. The dead soldier's troop appears, and El Sordo's gang intercepts them and defends the mountain outpost until they are killed by fighter planes. While Pablo is alone in the cave, he steals Robert's ignition unit and throws it in the fire. When Anselmo reports that Nationalist troops at the bridge are being fortified, Robert realizes that they have learned of the imminent attack, and sends Andres across enemy lines with a message for Golz to stop the attack. That night, after Maria confesses to Robert that Nationalist soldiers raped her the night they murdered her parents, she and Robert consummate their love. Before dawn, Pilar discovers Pablo's sabotage, and Robert starts to assemble a new charge unit with a hand grenade. Pablo confesses that his treachery was inspired by his fear of death, as he discovered that El Sordo's gang had been beheaded after being killed. Pablo now wholeheartedly supports their efforts. Andres, meanwhile, is sent through a long chain of command before he is able to reach Golz. As Robert's motley troop assembles at their posts near the bridge, Golz receives the message, but the planes have already departed to attack the bridge outpost. As the attack begins, Pilar fights alongside the men, while Pablo and his three new recruits kill the men at the guardhouse, and Anselmo reluctantly kills a sentry he knew from his village. Robert sets the makeshift explosive in the bridge girders. When tanks start pulling in, Rafael boldly drops a grenade inside a tank, but is killed shortly after it explodes. As the Nationalist tanks close in, Anselmo refuses to pull the cord to explode the dynamite because Robert is still on the bridge. Robert makes a desperate dash to pull the cord, and the resulting explosion not only destroys the bridge and a tank, but also kills Anselmo. The gypsy troupe escapes into the mountains, where Maria waits with the horses. Pablo arrives after cold-bloodedly killing his three recruits, so that there will be enough horses for everyone, not realizing that three of his group already have been killed. When they are forced to gallop past enemy fire, everyone escapes unharmed, but Robert's leg is broken when his wounded horse falls on him. Knowing he will be unable to complete the ride to the city of Gredos, Robert arranges for Pilar and Pablo to leave him behind with a machine gun to cover their escape. Maria refuses to leave his side until he assures her that his spirit will live on with her. As they leave Robert behind, Maria becomes hysterical and proceeds only because Pilar forces her. Alone, Robert struggles to remain conscious by thinking of Maria, and as the soldiers approach, he ensures her safety by gunning them down. +

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

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