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A U.S. army officer, the military governor of an Italian town during World War II, tries to reintroduce democracy, but his efforts are hindered by his commanding general. Placing his career... See full summary »
Major Joppolo and his men are assigned to restore order to the war-torn Italian town of Adano. He has to manage getting supplies into town without interfering with troop movements, all the while dealing with colorful citizens of the town. One of his quests is to replace the bell which orders the town's life. Written by
Robert Tonsing <email@example.com>
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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.
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