Teresa (1951)

101-103 mins | Drama | 27 July 1951

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writer:

Stewart Stern

Producer:

Arthur M. Loew

Cinematographer:

William Miller

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Leo Kerz

Production Companies:

Coliseum Films, Loew's International Corp.
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HISTORY

Teresa was the first production of Coliseum Films, a producing subsidiary of distributor Loew's International Corp., whose president, Arthur M. Loew, was the son of the founder of the firm's parent company, Loew's, Inc. According to a HR news item, this was to be the first of a series of "low budgeted, locale-photographed stories which Arthur Lowe plans to make in Europe and other parts of the world." In a pre-release NYT article by director Fred Zinnemann, he stated that Loew, with whom he had earlier worked on the 1948 release The Search, suggested doing a film "on the plight and problems of those boys who had come back from war to a confusing, overcrowded world, which they must face 'on their own,' without superior officers and military rules and regulations to direct their lives." They decided to use an approach similar to that of The Search, of "letting the experiences of one ex-soldier tell the story of all his fellows, and filming the picture in its natural settings, with unknown players in the leading roles."
       After writers Stewart Stern, who had also worked on The Search, and Alfred Hayes became involved, the story began to focus on the experiences of a foreign war bride in addition to those of a returning soldier. In his autobiography, Zinnemann stated that Stern was hired to write a screenplay loosely based on Hayes's novel The Girl on the Via Flaminia; however, that book, which was the source for the 1954 United Artists release Act of Love, seems to bear little resemblance to Teresa, other ...

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Teresa was the first production of Coliseum Films, a producing subsidiary of distributor Loew's International Corp., whose president, Arthur M. Loew, was the son of the founder of the firm's parent company, Loew's, Inc. According to a HR news item, this was to be the first of a series of "low budgeted, locale-photographed stories which Arthur Lowe plans to make in Europe and other parts of the world." In a pre-release NYT article by director Fred Zinnemann, he stated that Loew, with whom he had earlier worked on the 1948 release The Search, suggested doing a film "on the plight and problems of those boys who had come back from war to a confusing, overcrowded world, which they must face 'on their own,' without superior officers and military rules and regulations to direct their lives." They decided to use an approach similar to that of The Search, of "letting the experiences of one ex-soldier tell the story of all his fellows, and filming the picture in its natural settings, with unknown players in the leading roles."
       After writers Stewart Stern, who had also worked on The Search, and Alfred Hayes became involved, the story began to focus on the experiences of a foreign war bride in addition to those of a returning soldier. In his autobiography, Zinnemann stated that Stern was hired to write a screenplay loosely based on Hayes's novel The Girl on the Via Flaminia; however, that book, which was the source for the 1954 United Artists release Act of Love, seems to bear little resemblance to Teresa, other than the fact that it also deals with a love affair between an American G.I. and an impoverished European girl.
       A May 1950 NYT article noted that the film was being made "in the Italian tradition--unknown actors, and the Italian part of the story...shot in the actual bombed-out villages on the route of the Fifth Army, in which the G.I. is supposed to have served." In the NYT article, Zinnemann noted that using unknown actors had succeeded in Europe, where costs were low enough to allow for extended time for a director to work with the cast. Stern was sent to Italy ahead of the production crew for research and to recruit potential cast members.
       According to the film's pressbook, the mother of seventeen-year-old actress Anna Maria Pierangeli learned of the casting call from Silvio Damico, the head of Rome's Academy of Dramatic Art, who urged her to send her daughter for a screen test. The test was sent to New York and impressed Zinnemann, who knew when he met her in Rome that she was right for the role. The actress, whose name was changed to Pier Angeli, had earlier starred in the Italian films Domani é troppo tardi (Tomorrow Is Too Late) and Domani é un altro giorno (Tomorrow Is Another Day), both directed by Léonide Moguy. Angeli acted for many years in Hollywood, co-starring in a number of popular films during the 1950s. She returned to Europe in the 1960s and died in 1971, of an overdose of barbituates. Angeli, had an identical twin sister who also become a prominent actress in Hollywood, working under the name Marisa Pavan.
       Teresa was John Ericson's first film. According to LAT, he previously had been with the Barter Theater in New York and had done some radio and television work. NYT noted, "In appearance and even in his voice use, he resembles Marlon Brando, who played in The Men under Mr. Zinnemann's direction--which may by significant." Teresa also marked the film debuts of Rod Steiger, Ralph Meeker and celebrated Stars and Stripes war cartoonist Bill Mauldin. Mauldin, who had been wounded in the Italian campaign, also served as a technical adviser on the film. Italian village scenes were shot in the small town of Scascoli, near Bologna in the Apennines, at the foot of Mount Adone, which Zinnemann called "the pivot of the German Gothic line during the war," and at Livergnano, where the wedding ceremony was shot.
       Battle scenes were filmed where actual fighting had taken place, the hospital scene was shot in Siena and the honeymoon scenes were shot in Rome. By the time of filming, Scascoli, which had a population of 350, had been rebuilt, so the filmmakers hired townspeople to wreck it again and included many as extras in the cast. The stone watering trough was built in the main square for the film. According to news items, forty ex-G.I.s, who were studying in Italy, were cast as Fifth Army extras and bit roles. Shooting in New York took place near the Third Avenue "el" on the East Side, in Central Park, at Jones Beach, at Bellevue Hospital and at M-G-M's home office, which was used for the unemployment office scene; because the script depicted the clerk at the office as "unfriendly," the actual New York unemployment office would not allow filming on their premises, according to a NYT article.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen objected to a number of lines in the script where, he wrote, "Teresa is offering herself, sexually, for food" and "the soldiers set out to seduce the Italian girls with Hershey bars." Breen's objections led to a number of changes in the dialogue, including the alteration of a scene in the script in which Sgt. Dobbs gives Philip a Hershey bar and says, "Here now, you're all set. Do I have to teach you how to do this too?"
       The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing (Motion Picture Story). Some reviews commented that the film would probably appeal to art-house patrons, as opposed to general audiences, and most trade reviews were negative. Bosley Crowther of NYT, however, praised the film as meriting "the rare appreciation of all who are interested in honest, mature films" and lauded Stern and Zinnemann for having "evolved a film that places these two real young people in a world that is equally real."

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Mar 1951
---
Cue
7 Apr 1951
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1951
p. 3
Film Daily
28 Feb 1951
p. 6
Harrison's Reports
3 Mar 1951
p. 34
Hollywood Citizen-News
16 Aug 1951
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1949
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1950
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1950
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 1950
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1951
pp. 3-4
Life
19 Mar 1951
---
Los Angeles Daily News
30 May 1950
---
Los Angeles Daily News
16 Aug 1951
---
Los Angeles Examiner
16 Aug 1951
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Apr 1950
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Sep 1950
("This Week" magazine)
Los Angeles Times
16 Aug 1951
---
Motion Picture Daily
6 Mar 1951
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Mar 1951
p. 750
New York Post
6 Apr 1951
---
New York Times
14 May 1950
---
New York Times
13 Aug 1950
---
New York Times
11 Feb 1951
---
New York Times
25 Mar 1951
---
New York Times
6 Apr 1951
p. 31
New York Times
15 Apr 1951
---
New York Times
6 Apr 1951
---
NYDM
6 Apr 1951
---
NYJournal American
6 Apr 1951
---
Saturday Review
14 Apr 1951
---
The Exhibitor
28 Feb 1951
pp. 3033-34
Time
9 Apr 1951
---
Variety
29 Nov 1950
---
Variety
28 Feb 1951
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents; A Fred Zinnemann Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From an orig story by
From an orig story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
William J. Miller
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc film ed
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Rec supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Tech adv
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 July 1951
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 Apr 1951
Production Date:
early May--mid Jul 1950
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Loew's Inc.
24 May 1951
LP945
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101-103
Length(in feet):
9,413
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14867
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Philip Cass, a disturbed young World War II veteran, bolts from the line at the unemployment office to pay a long overdue visit to Frank, his counselor at the Veteran's Affairs administration. Agitated and feeling out of control, Philip contends that no one understands him, especially his father, and that he wishes that Dobbs, a sergeant he met in the army, was his father. After abruptly leaving Frank's office, Philip returns home to the apartment that he shares with his fractious parents and his sister Sue. When Philip huddles in his bed, his overprotective mother tries to baby him, causing Philip to grip his head and call out the name Dobbs. Philip's mind wanders back to the day that, as a frightened recruit, he arrived at a destitute village in Italy to report for duty to Sgt. Dobbs: As the village children hungrily eye the soldiers consuming their rations, Teresa, an attractive young girl, shyly offers to trade a statue for food. After one of the soldiers leers at her, Teresa's protective older brother Mario escorts her home. Later, Brown, a gruff, unsympathetic sergeant, orders Teresa's family to lodge Philip and several other soldiers for the night. That evening, Philip sneaks out to the town square and offers to trade his watch for cans of food, which he then stacks next to Teresa's bed. The next morning, Brown, disgusted by Philip's lack of aggression, humiliates him in front of the other men, but Dobbs comes to defense and teaches him to defend himself. On laundry day, the village women gather at the town square to do their wash, and as the soldiers ...

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Philip Cass, a disturbed young World War II veteran, bolts from the line at the unemployment office to pay a long overdue visit to Frank, his counselor at the Veteran's Affairs administration. Agitated and feeling out of control, Philip contends that no one understands him, especially his father, and that he wishes that Dobbs, a sergeant he met in the army, was his father. After abruptly leaving Frank's office, Philip returns home to the apartment that he shares with his fractious parents and his sister Sue. When Philip huddles in his bed, his overprotective mother tries to baby him, causing Philip to grip his head and call out the name Dobbs. Philip's mind wanders back to the day that, as a frightened recruit, he arrived at a destitute village in Italy to report for duty to Sgt. Dobbs: As the village children hungrily eye the soldiers consuming their rations, Teresa, an attractive young girl, shyly offers to trade a statue for food. After one of the soldiers leers at her, Teresa's protective older brother Mario escorts her home. Later, Brown, a gruff, unsympathetic sergeant, orders Teresa's family to lodge Philip and several other soldiers for the night. That evening, Philip sneaks out to the town square and offers to trade his watch for cans of food, which he then stacks next to Teresa's bed. The next morning, Brown, disgusted by Philip's lack of aggression, humiliates him in front of the other men, but Dobbs comes to defense and teaches him to defend himself. On laundry day, the village women gather at the town square to do their wash, and as the soldiers flock around, Dobbs encourages Philip to join them. When one of the soldiers makes unwelcome advances to Teresa, she turns to Philip for help, and he offers to carry her water bucket home. There, Philip meets Teresa's family, and when he offers them cigarettes, Mario seethes with resentment. Chaperoned by her little brother Sergio, Teresa and Philip take a walk and Teresa laments that all the eligible village boys have been killed in the war, leaving her bereft of love. After kissing Teresa goodbye, Philip rejoins his patrol, which sets out to ambush the Germans. Dobbs stations Philip near an onrushing stream and instructs him to fire a flare gun after the last German passes. Cold and terrified, Philip panics and leaves his post to find Dobbs. As Philip runs blindly through the woods, Brown tackles him and grabs the flare gun, sending Philip reeling to the ground unconscious. Upon awakening in a hospital bed, Philip learns that Dobbs died in the ambush. After the war ends in Europe, Philip returns to Teresa's home and is welcomed by Mario. That night, Teresa excuses herself to go to bed, but unable to sleep, she steals downstairs to talk to Philip. After they passionately kiss, Teresa runs back to bed. Soon after, Philip and Teresa are married in the ruins of the village church. After a honeymoon in Rome, the time comes for Philip to return home, and he promises that the army will take care of her until she can join him. Back at the family's New York apartment, Philip's mother carps about her "jellyfish" husband and clings to Philip for solace. When his mother confides that she feared that some unscrupulous European woman would take advantage of her son, Philip hides his wedding picture behind the bureau, and when Mrs. Cass finds it, she becomes hysterical. Soon after, Teresa receives a telegram from the War Bride's Office authorizing her transportation and comes to New York. Although Mr. Cass warmly greets his new daughter-in-law, Mrs. Cass vies with Teresa for Philip's affections. Sensing her mother-in-law's aversion, Teresa asks Philip if they can move into their own home, but Philip defensively replies that he must first find a job. When Philip decides to take a position selling pressure cookers, his mother disparages his ability while Teresa encourages him. As Philip fails at his first nervous attempt at sales, Teresa learns that she is pregnant. During a family outing at Jones Beach, Philip, morose and uncommunicative, sits at the water's edge while Teresa attempts to tell him about her pregnancy. When voices from his past begin to echo in his head, Philip becomes agitated, glares at his father and runs off. Trying to comfort Philip, Teresa calls him "Filippo," but he pushes her away and tells her never to call him that again. Later, Philip comes home, drunk, and Teresa begs him to take her away. When Philip refuses, claiming that leaving would kill his mother, Teresa blurts out that she is pregnant and Philip declares she cannot have the baby. In response, Teresa accuses him of fearing fatherhood. Philip then orders her to leave and watches in silence as she walks away. Philip's thoughts now return to the present, and when his mother strolls into the room singing Christmas carols, he rises from his bed and goes to see Frank. There, Philip confesses that he let himself be paralyzed by his mother, who wanted him to remain her baby. Affirming that he feels he is finally growing up, Philip finds a job at the YMCA and announces that he is leaving home. When his mother accuses Philip of trying to kill her, his father forcefully ushers his son out of the house. Some time later, Mr. Cass comes to the YMCA to tell Philip that Teresa has checked into the hospital to deliver her baby and needs him. After the baby is born, Philip shakes his father's hand, and the next day, when he brings Teresa flowers, she tells hm that she has named the baby Filippo. After Teresa and the baby are discharged from the hospital, Philip takes them to their new home, a modest apartment he has rented for the three of them.

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

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