powered by AFI
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.