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For Whom the Bell Tolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls(1943)

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The synopsis is based on the first version of the film that was released, which includes the various flashback scenes. These scenes were cut after preview screenings of the film (see note below). The film opens with the following written quote from John Donne's "Sermon III": "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." In 1936, Spain was plunged into a three-year-long civil war, during which General Francisco Franco Bahamonde took over leadership of the government and allied with Fascist Italian and Nazi German sympathizers. Several hundred Americans fought on the side of the Loyalists, those citizens who were against Franco's takeover. The war ended in 1939, after Franco became the head of state. Author Ernest Hemingway worked as a correspondent in Spain during the war. In 1940, Paramount paid $150,000 for the film rights to Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, which, at the time, was reportedly the highest price paid for screen rights to a novel. The New York Times noted that "according to the contract, Paramount paid Hemingway $100,000 for the property, agreeing to an additional 10 cents a copy for each volume sold up to 500,000." Plans for a film based on the novel began in October 1940 with Cecil B. DeMille slated to direct. DeMille left the project so that he could direct Rurales, but that film was never made. According to his autobiography, DeMille gave his plans and the partial script, written by Jeanie Macpherson, to Paramount. The extent to which DeMille's plans were used in the final film has not been determined. According to Paramount publicity, Hemingway modeled his main character, "Robert Jordan," after Gary Cooper, and urged Paramount to cast both Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in the lead roles. Sam Wood agreed to direct Cooper, a Samuel Goldwyn contract star, in Goldwyn's film The Pride of the Yankees (see below), in exchange for the loan of Cooper to Paramount for this film. Hollywood Reporter news items noted that the following actors and actresses were considered for roles in this film: MacDonald Carey as "Robert"; Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Pola Negri, Annabella, Fay McKenzie, Cecilia Callejo, Madeleine LeBeau, Barbara Britton, Esther Fernndez, Tatiana Graslich and Betty Field as "Maria"; Ethel Barrymore, Flora Robson, Alla Nazimova and Blanche Yurka as "Pilar"; Edward G. Robinson, Lee J. Cobb, Albert Dekker, J. Carroll Naish, Fritz Kortner and Fortunio Bonanova as "Pablo"; Humphrey Bogart as "Pablo" and "Rafael"; Lynne Overman and Harold Huber as "Rafael"; Marc Lawrence as "Fernando"; and Oscar Homolka, Gilbert Roland and George Lewis for undetermined roles. Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals the following: Vera Zorina was originally cast as "Maria," but was replaced after two weeks of shooting by Ingrid Bergman, director Wood's original choice, because the producer and director were dissatisfied with Zorina's performance and appearance. Bergman was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company for the production. Retakes were made in early August 1942 due to the change in casting. Edward Ciannelli was originally cast as "Gustavo." Hollywood Reporter news items also reported the following: Spanish composer Francisco Avellan was hired to work on the score. The bell seen tolling at the end of the film was loaned by the State of California, and originally was located at La Purisima Mission in Lompoc. According to information in the press book, director Wood began production in November 1941 because snow conditions in the Sierra Mountains were appropriate for the setting of the film, despite the fact that he had not yet cast the lead roles. Plans to film the airplane sequences on December 7, 1941 were delayed due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in the grounding of all commercial planes. Paramount then had to register their pilots and planes with the Civil Aeronautics Administration and receive U.S. Army approval before they were allowed to shoot the airplane sequences. The production crew returned to the Sierra Mountains in the summer of 1942 to continue shooting. Specific locations included the Lumsden bridge near the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park. Additional shooting took place in the Sonora Pass, CA. The film's final production cost was $2,681,298. According to news items and an article in Movieland, the State Department demanded that the term "Fascist" be removed from the film due to concerns that the Spanish government might protest the film. The term "Nationalist" was used instead. In a New York Times article, producer B. G. DeSylva denied that the State Department ever took an interest in the film, but noted that the Spanish Consul in San Francisco, CA, read the initial script and recommended changes; however, those suggestions were ignored. Although the PCA expressed concern about the political controversies that might arise over the picture, the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that the primary concern was that the film should not depict an "illicit sex affair" between "Robert" and "Maria." They recommended that the filmmakers "omit entirely from the picture the sleeping bag" sequence, and that they should "endeavor to remove...the suggestion that Maria has been raped." Both elements were retained in the film. For Whom the Bell Tolls was banned in Spain, and only showed for the first time in that country in 1978, three years after Franco's death. The film had its premiere on July 14, 1943 in New York City, and the proceeds were donated to the National War Fund. In its initial road-show release in 1943, the film included the flashback in which "Pilar" recalls how she and fellow "Republicans" tortured "Nationalist" prisoners. The Daily Variety commented as follows: "The questionable phase of the the sequence where Pilar recites in retrospect the atrocities committed by herself, Pablo and the Loyalist civilians upon captive Nationalist partisans in the gruesome gauntlet-of-death scene. These are the 'heroes,' the sympathetically viewed folk of the picture, who are shown committing abysmal horrors....The whole horror sequence, however, is so arranged that it could be cut out without destroying the continuity or the integrity of the picture." The film's press-preview length was approximately 17,000 feet. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and information in the MPAA/PCA file, it was cut by approximately 1,237 feet for the road-show release, after being approved by the PCA. This cut included a scene with actors George Coulouris and Konstantin Shayne, as well as 1,000 feet of battle footage, according to a New York Times article. In accordance with their special release plan, Paramount withdrew the film from its road-show in August 1944, and prepared it for standard release in 1945. Further cuts were made to the film for the 1945 release, including the deletion of the "atrocities" scene. A 1946 letter in the MPAA/PCA file notes that Paramount executives anticipated cutting approximately 3,000 additional feet. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Screenwriter Louis Bromfield, who worked on the script prior to Dudley Nichols, left out any reference to political alliances in the screenplay, and included an ending in which "Maria" recalls "Robert's" final words as she rides to safety toward Gredos. Through his agent, Hemingway urged Paramount to include mention of the ideals of the Republicans, who were fighting Fascism. Shortly after filming on For Whom the Bell Tolls began, Warner Bros. called Bergman back for retakes in Casablanca, but she had cut her hair for the role of Maria and was unavailable. Bergman's short hair became a popular style for American women. Greek actress Katina Paxinou, in her screen debut, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. The film was also nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Picture; Best Actor (Gary Cooper); Best Supporting Actor (Akim Tamiroff); Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman); Art Direction/Interior Decoration (Color); Cinematography (Color); Film Editing, (Sherman Todd and John Link); Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture).