In July 2002, during a symposium about 'Cinema, Science and Education' held in Salamanca (Spain), I discussed with Rafael España a well-known Catalan MD and cinephile- the only scene I could remember from the film 'Noche sin Cielo'. He is nine years younger than me, so he acknowledged that he had never seen it and assured me that unfortunately no copies of it were preserved. Likewise, he stated that a friend of his had also referred to the same scene of the film.
'Noche sin Cielo' was screened in Málaga at the Goya Theatre on July 17 1948 and it was on only for four days. I was not seven years old yet at the time, and I went to see it with my parents. Málaga's local newspaper, SUR, carried on that same day a promotional advertisement on that film, and it was considered there as a 'great production of national interest' and highlighted its deep realism: the tragic days in Manila (Philippines) under the Japanese occupation.
The scene that left such a deep trace in that boy was one of an extraordinary toughness: One person was playing the guitar in what I thought to be a prison; two soldiers with oriental facial features were coming down a small stair and took him away. The picture darkens and the action comes back showing the same man with his hands amputated. The omission of such a cruel act gave the narration a high dramatic tone, which was increased by the long scene showing the mutilated Andalucian guitarist. I always had the feeling that the cruel deed was motivated by the nuisance caused by the music to the prison warders.
The non-existence of copies of this film has prevented me from watching it again in my adult life, and the available information about it is very scarce. We only know that a group of survivors of the Philippines conflict narrate their experiences for the press at their arrival at Barcelona harbour. The cast included Adriano Rimoldi, in the role of the priest, and the blonde bombshell María Martín, Rimoldi's habitual partner both in the screen and in real life. It was a very ambitious film by Ignacio F. Iquino, which did not seem to have enjoyed the audience's favour and divided the specialised critics, the Catalan critics being more benevolent than those in Madrid. The film was released nationally in the Kursaal Theatre in Barcelona on September 25, 1947 and it was on for thirteen days there; it was shown in Madrid in the Rex Theatre on May 10 1948.
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