Directed by Henry King, this is the story of the efforts of Allied occupational forces to return a small Sicilian fishing village toward normalcy, after the Fascist armies were driven out. It is an adaptation of a book of the same name, by John Hersey, which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 1945. Amazingly, the film was released later that year.......The character of Maj. Joppolo was based on Lt. Col. Frank Toscani: senior civil affairs officer of the U.S. Army military government, in Licana, Italy. The film was produced by 20th century Fox. John Hodiak was barrowed from MGM to star as Maj. Joppolo. Even though Major Joppolo clearly was the main character, because of her greater star status, Gene Tierney received top billing, as Tina, the daughter of a fisherman. She gradually develops a platonic relationship with Maj. Joppolo, but he is married and she is awaiting the return of her betrothed : Giorgio, from war. As it turns out, he doesn't return with the other village soldiers, his death being described by one of the returnees. I think Maj. Joppolo should have been characterized as single or divorced, so that their attraction to each other could legitimately have further blossomed during the short time after it was established that Giorgio was dead, and before Joppolo was reassigned. Most reviewers think Gene was a terrible choice to play an Italian, especially with her bleached blond hair. Several times, there was a comment about her dark Italian skin. Well, obviously, no attempt was made to darken her naturally fair skin! So, why did she dye her hair blond. She told Joppolo it was to make her look distinctive. She said she wanted to get away from this village, into the wider world, preferably the US. Thus, I suppose, she was hoping a GI would take her back to the US when the war was over. But, this conflicted with her love for Giorgio, until it was learned he was dead.........Maj. Joppolo was appointed military governor of Adano, and charged with restoring relative normalcy as soon as possible. The villagers were hungry, and lacked adequate fresh water. Their fishing fleet had been grounded for some time.
Tina's father, who headed the fisherman's guild, was afraid the Americans would tax the fish they caught. Joppolo assured him that the American army would not charge a tax on fish, thus he OKed fishing again. Joppolo also made an edict that government officials would not enjoy special privileges. This was brought home when an official tried to cut into a soup line......... Early on, Hugo Haas, as Father Pensovecchio, emphasized to Joppolo the importance of acquiring a replacement town bell. The 700y.o. former bell had been melted down by the fascists for bullets. It was important for many people to signal the timing of their daily activities.(Apparently, few had a watch or clock). Joppolo asked the US Navy to try to find a suitable bell. Eventually, one was supplied, and rung just before Joppolo left for his new assignment..........Joppolo's army superior had instructed him to keep the main roads to the town clear of carts, so as not to interfere in troop and vehicle movements. Joppolo partially disobeyed this order, allowing some carts to bring food and other essentials. Eventually, he was reassigned to Algiers for this insubordination.