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  • I liked this film in most respects. John Hodiak was perfect as "Mr. Major." William Bendix, one of my favorite character actors, displayed much of his range, from humor to pathos. And Henry King's direction was superb. However, Gene Tierney was seriously miscast as the comely village girl.

    Miss Tierney's Italian accent was practically non-existent. And that bleached blonde hair! I seriously doubt that an Italian girl of modest means in a fishing village would have made that a priority during World War II.

    And why was John Hodiak talking about Jean Tierney's "dark skin" resembling that of his wife back home? If her skin was any lighter she could've been mistaken for an albino!

    I gave this film an "8". It was one of those films where the plot line was taken too literally from the novel. The romance between Hodiak and Tierney didn't contribute much to the film. And Richard Conte's morbid description of the death of Tierney's boyfriend was way too heavy and mostly irrelevant to the rest of the film. Otherwise, "A Bell for Adano" would've have earned a "9" from me.

  • John Hersey's acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Bell For Adano was purchased by 20th Century Fox and turned into a fine film. Darryl Zanuck borrowed John Hodiak from MGM probably because Tyrone Power was serving in the Marines at this time. Hodiak also did around the same time Lifeboat for Alfred Hitchcock also for 20th Century Fox. So for an MGM contract player Hodiak got two of his finest roles on loan to another studio. Happens that way some time.

    Hodiak who is Major Joppolo, an Italian American from the Bronx has that much going for him as he's appointed military governor of the recently liberated town of Adano. That's considerable because he already has some familiarity with the culture.

    The town wants the bare necessities, food, medical supplies, etc., but it also wants something. They had the biggest church bell around and it was there for hundreds of years. But Mussolini melted it down for cannon and from every quarter Hodiak is told get us our bell back or a new one just as good.

    Hodiak deals with all kinds of situations trying to form an occupation government and there is the question of who to trust among the Italians. But the real test for Hodiak comes when an order is issued to keep all civilian traffic off the main road into Adano. The problem is that there are no side roads into the town, one way in and one way out. Hodiak takes it on his own initiative to countermand the order. He gets in trouble with the army, but earns the heartfelt thanks of the people of Adano.

    Henry King got some great performances out of his ensemble and the recreation of occupied Italy is impressively done. Hodiak was a tough and compassionate man all at once with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. It's definitely one of his best roles.

    Also standing out is William Bendix as Hodiak's senior non-commissioned officer who backs Hodiak up all the way in his governing policies. Gene Tierney plays one of the villagers who wants Hodiak to find what happened to her boyfriend who was in the Italian army and providing some hospitality if needed. Harry Morgan is in A Bell For Adano playing a military police captain who is interested in covering his posterior in the military tradition. Finally there's Richard Conte who has a beautiful scene with Hodiak and Tierney as a recently released Italian soldier who tells them of the fate of Tierney's boyfriend.

    For some reason A Bell For Adano the movie has been strangely forgotten and a lot of younger people haven't heard of it. That's a pity because this film is a neglected treasure.
  • This film showed that John Hodiak could act, though I guess he didn't get that many chances to star in the movies he appeared in during his career. He's wonderful as the commanding officer in charge of a post-war Italian village. He tries everything he can to rebuild the town--both physically and in spirit. However, the one thing he really can't do is restore the bell stolen from the town by the Fascists. The townspeople see this as a point of pride; i.e., if they get a new bell it proves they are a real and growing town. At first Hodiak isn't the least bit sympathetic to their plight. However, over time he begins to see that maybe there is something to be said about restoring civic pride. A cute and quite unusual film well worth watching.
  • I very much enjoyed this movie, so much so that I plan to search out the book. I write this though because many commenters asked why Gene Tierney was a blonde Italian. This would lead me to wonder what they were doing while the movie was running because they obviously weren't watching it. In what I would term a key scene, Hodiak's 'Mr. Major' explains that he was from the Bronx but he didn't see it as beautiful like his Italian immigrant parents do and he always wanted to escape and Tierney's Tina replies that that is why she has blonde hair, that she wants to get away to America but she is unable to leave the village so her escape was to dye her dark hair blonde.
  • JennyP15 January 2000
    This is one of those films made during late WWII about WWII. It has some of the feel of the Italian neo-realist films that were starting to be made around this time. This is definitely a good thing - it doesn't feel like an overproduced, overwritten studio effort.

    The story slowly draws you in as the new American administrator of a little Italian village arrives and tries to help the townspeople get used to life as a free people again, and to get their lives & livelihoods restarted.

    The writing is mostly fresh and natural, as is the acting. The only false notes are the bumbling Italians who become the Americans' assistants, and to a lesser extent the standard poor-yet-dignified villagers. But compared to most films of the era they're minor annoyances.
  • Adapted from a famous novel ," a bell for Adano" seems sometimes too good to be true."Mister Major " is really a hand to kiss for he changed the life of the inhabitants of an Italian small town singlehandedly.John Hodiak portrays this officer with authority and humanity.On the other hand ,the users are right when they write that Gene Tierney -an actress who happens to be one of my favorites- is miscast;she could pass for half-Chinese in "Shanghai Gesture" ,she is not credible as a blonde (?) Italian .Besides ,it is not much of a part,and except for the scene where she's told about her fianc√©'s fate,she is lost in the crowd.

    Marcel Dalio,on the contrary ,is well cast as the coward;this French actor was famous in his native country for his portrayals of villains,traitors ,collaborators,etc .The first scene is his: swearing he has never been a fascist but giving the infamous salute ,he is absolutely marvelous,so to speak!

    It 's sometimes too good to be true but Mister Major is an endearing character,a military man who thinks that rules are made to be broken ,which ,for an officer, is not common."A bell for Adano" is a Christian movie almost as much as King's "song of Bernadette" was.

    The first sequences of the village in ruins will remind you of the Italian Neo-Realism ,Roberto Rossellini's works ("Paesa" "Germania anno zero")
  • PWNYCNY3 August 2005
    I know that the movie is a bit unrealistic in its characterizations. I know that the movie is a bit heavy-handed in its stereotypical portrayals of the Italians. I know that the movie is fiction, and that no matter how much you try to sugar-coat the story, the fact is that Italy was a member of the Axis alliance, was belligerent and fascist, and went over to the Allied side only after it was thoroughly defeated. So any portrayals of Italians being particularly passive or pro-American circa 1945 must be taken with a huge grain of salt. All this being said, I still liked this movie. The movie brings out, in typical Hollywood fashion, that the United States and the Allies DID liberate Italy from fascism, and which prevented Italy from becoming a total basket case like Germany and Japan became after the war. The pro-American bias of the movie is unmistakable, but as a World War Two movie what else could you expect? The fact is that the United States liberated Western Europe from Nazism and fascism, and movies like "A Bell for Adono" serve to ensure that what the United States did to help Italy and the rest of Europe is not forgotten.
  • In another attempt to depict Americans as the saviours of Europe post-WWII, Henry King's 'A Bell for Adano' centres on the rebuilding of an Italian town bombarded and driven to despair, rescued by the American 'invaders' who come to build civil peace.

    The Italians are in the main shown in a comic way, as children who are incapable of governing themselves, or as joke fascists. A curious view at the time in history it was made, right at the end of the war. The Americans (the good-looking Major, the snipey Captain, the loyal but dumb Sergeant) have a bit more character but are still stereotypical Army types.

    In the cast, John Hodiak is good as usual, helped this time by the stellar support of Harry Morgan, William Bendix, and Glenn Langan (as a too-good-to-be-true naval officer). Gene Tierney is a bottle-blonde lovely in the town and a love interest for Hodiak, although her acting is little more than passable.

    I liked this film in the main as it manages to make an impact within a limited plotline. Now rarely seen and not available on video/DVD, it doesn't deserve to be in obscurity but to be seen and celebrated with other films made during and just after wartime.
  • I enjoyed this movie as I was watching it, but it didn't leave much of a memory for later. John Hodiak is great, as is William Bendix and Harry Morgan, but I thought Gene Tierney was the best, even though she looked a tad silly with blonde hair. This movie could use a remake, and I usually don't think that way. But there is a great story here and it could use a new treatment.
  • This is another of those very rare films that are like no other films, unique and differing from everything else, while of course you recognize most of the Italian expressions of temperament, emotion and human complications and outbursts from most other Italian films, but this American film actually succeeds in capturing the very Italian element and even the Sicilian element. The town of Adano does not exist and never did, but the inspiration for the Pulitzer winning novel by John Hersey has its source in a small Sicilian town on the south coast close to Agrigento called Licata, and if you know anything about Sicily you would immediately recognize the environment and mentality in the film as Sicilian, if you didn't know it beforehand. John Hodiak as major Joppolo, curiously like John Steinbeck, makes perhaps the role and perfomance of his life, and if you don't remember him for any other performance, you will remember him for this one. William Bendix, always reliable and indomitable as a character actor, is his closest associate and makes as usual a very memorable performance. You will perhaps be shocked to find Gene Tierney here as a blonde Italian, but she makes the best of it. Another character not to bypass, for a short but the more remarkable performance, is Richard Crenna as an Italian soldier and released prisoner. Perhaps the major highlight and most moving scene in the film is when the village, almost exclusively inhabited by women, receives back all its prisoners, sons and husbands that have been gone since the beginning of the war, while all the women go out to meet them in the square. It is one of the finest moments in any war film. The story is all about a church bell, missing when the major arrives to take charge of the village, while a clique of the villagers insist the return of the church bell being the most important need for the starving village, and the major goes through great pains to achieve that goal. The film ends in deep melancholy sadness but at the same time in glorious triumph. It's a great story, and no wonder the novel won the Pulitzer prize - Henry King's direction of the film goes meticulously about not missing anything of the great deserts of the novel.
  • A Bell for Adano is directed by Henry King and stars John Hodiak, Gene Tierney, William Bendix, Richard Conte, Harry Morgan & Glenn Langan. The screenplay by Norman Reilly Raine is adapted from the novel A Bell for Adano by John Hersey, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. The story concerns Italian-American U.S. Army Major Joppolo {Hodiak}, who is stationed in the Italian town of Adano during the invasion of Sicily. The title is in reference to Joppolo's attempts to replace a 700 year old bell that was taken from the town by the Fascists at the start of the war. But he has to win the trust of the confused and almost broken townsfolk before he can implement a new way of life for Adano. The character of Joppolo is based on real life military governor Frank Toscani, who was based in Licato, Sicily after the Allied invasion.

    With the source as good and as well regarded as it is, it's something of a given that the story is of high quality. But does it transfer well to the screen? Personally I found the whole experience rather heavy, almost unpalatable in parts. Yet the acting, and the directing are not really at fault {cept for Tierney's miscast blonde love interest that is}. It's just that for all its obvious adherence to a low-key, slow burn approach to the effects of war on a ravage town, it fails to deliver anything resembling potency. Particularly with its ending, where if it wasn't for a bit of emotional gusto from the excellent Hodiak & Bendix, would have rendered the time spent staying with the film a complete waste of time. There's also moments of over doing the melodrama, with one, as Conte's Nicolo tells a horror story to a grief stricken Tierney, almost embarrassing in its delivery.

    It's not a waste of time to be sure, for the lead male performances it deserves a look: and also a listen with Alfred Newman's tight score. While the smouldering structure on offer here has garnered it some supporters over the years {the film is decently rated at 7 on IMDb}. But ultimately it's an uneasy recommendation to fans of 1940s war film's. 5/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • 1945 film dealing with American occupation of the Italian town of Adano.

    John Hodiak portrays a sympathetic officer who understands the need of the town.-food and water to survive.

    He shows kindness to the people of the town, many of whom are comical characters. William Bendix plays his assistant in his usual comic form. However, when Hodiak has to leave, Bendix is excellent when he has to tell him the news. He is so upset by this, he is terribly drunk.

    Gene Tierney is terribly miscast as a daughter of a fisherman, who seeks Hodiak out to find out information on her lover. Before he can act, Italian POW's return to the town, and one of them, Richard Conte, tells her what has happened to her beloved. If you were an anti-fascist who campaigned against the Mussolini regime, why would you be the first to go when Italy entered the war on Nazi Germany's side? The lover died for patriotic reasons though he was bitterly anti-fascist. There is something wrong here.

    The film deals with military bureaucracy and bungling by Roy Roberts. Such bungling costs Hodiak to be transferred. This was when the film was getting better. Too bad it ended at this point.

    The town of Adano needed a bell to carry on its daily life. Hodiak was successfully able to get the bell. The bell tolls for him when he leaves the town. Irony, not at its best, but when is irony actually good?
  • Hedy Lamarr was the first choice for Gene's role, though being the most gorgeous brunette, would puzzle me to have her wear a blond or dyed wig. Gene then replaced her in "Laura" and in a Danny Kaye Comedy "On the Reviera" Hedy's boss, L .B. Mayer refused to loan her out to 20th. Now the best part...Gene again replaced Hedy with one of Hedy's ex, Howard Gene had a lot to be thankful to Hedy. Too bad Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobridgada weren't available at that time as they were just starlets in Italian cinema. Not to long ago the Italians were their enemy, mainly cause of Mussolini..not the it was given to make our 'enemies' look like the fools. Look for a movie called '4 Days in Naples", a terrific war movie to counteract that.
  • g.barlas22 November 2009
    Hey guys, have you all noticed John Russell, dancing in the town hall towards the end of the film? As a film it was timely.... sentimental... I agree with all of you that Gene Tierney was terribly miscast and I didn't quite catch it why she should be a blonde? An unbecoming blonde as well.. The rest was OK, I guess. Lots of stereotype Italians, and the familiar camaraderie between the GIs and Navy etc... I guess it was filmed on the back lot of the Fox studios.. it shows that too.. OK for 1945.... But today it sounds rather naive and very nostalgic... Actually they do NOT make such films anymore.... Stanley Kramer tried a similar theme in 1969 and Blake Edwards too in 1966 with bigger budgets (and failed miserably) but this one is a cute relic to cherish from the past.. I gave it a 7!