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The Pride and the Passion

The Pride and the Passion(1957)

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The onscreen credit for Edna and Edward Anhalt reads: "Screen story and Screenplay by Edna and Edward Anhalt." The film's closing cast credits end with the statement "And the Spanish peoples in the tens of thousands who made possible this motion picture." The picture deviates sharply from the C. S. Forester novel on which it is based. There are no prominent female or British characters in the novel, and the character of "Miguel" in the film is a compilation of the several guerrillero leaders who take possession of the gun throughout the course of the book. In the novel, the gun, while it does eventually aid the downfall of the French through forcing the dispersal of their troops, is not used against a major city such as Avila and is destroyed in battle. In the book, the gun, an "eighteen pounder," is thirteen feet long, two feet in diameter at the breech and weighs three tons. In the film, the gun is described as being forty-two feet long and weighing seven tons, with its cannonballs weighing ninety-six pounds each instead of eighteen.
       According to the pressbook, one gun and five "stand-ins" were constructed for the film, with each having a barrel length of twenty-five feet. The gun was created by production designer Rudolph Sternad, and according to a July 1956 Los Angeles Times article and other contemporary sources, he steeped himself in Napoleonic era history and studied ordnance "of the period in Madrid's Ejercito Museum." Due to the guns' weight and the difficulty in setting them up for filming, one or more would be used for that day's shooting while the others were moved ahead to the next location sites. Twenty-five grips were in charge of dismantling, moving and reassembling the guns, according to the pressbook. A January 1956 Los Angeles Times article reported that the six guns were made out of "plaster, balsa wood and other materials, according to the punishment each must take in different sequences." The Time review, however, stated that the guns were cast in "nonflammable plastic" from a "giant mold" constructed based on Sternad's designs.
       According to modern sources, Ava Gardner, who was married to Frank Sinatra at the time of production, was initially considered for the role of "Juana," but she was already committed to the 1957 M-G-M release The Little Hut. In July 1955, New York Times announced that producer-director Stanley Kramer was "thinking fondly" of casting either Marlon Brando or Humphrey Bogart as Miguel. The Pride and the Passion marked Sophia Loren's first appearance in an English-language film. In her autobiography, Loren credited dialogue supervisor Anne Kramer, who was the then-wife of director Kramer, with helping her to learn English and practice her lines every night. According to a September 12, 1957 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column, Cary Grant was to receive ten percent of the film's gross. The picture marked the last collaboration of married writers Edward and Edna Anhalt. The Anhalts had written a number of successful screenplays, including the Oscar-winning 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox film Panic in the Streets, but were divorced in 1956 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 for more information about Panic in the Streets).
       Although the film's pressbook asserts that The Pride and the Passion was shot entirely on location in Spain, Hollywood Reporter news items reveal that while the majority of the picture was shot in Spain, ten days of filming took place on the Universal Studios lot in late January-early February 1957. According to Kramer's autobiography, the additional shooting was necessary because of Sinatra's sudden departure from Spain before the completion of scenes featuring him. The pressbook and contemporary articles include the ancient Monasterio de San Lorenzo del Escorial, Avila, Segovia, Vejer, Granada, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, La Mancha, Torrelaguna, Hoyo de Manzanares, Robledo and the Ebro River in the twenty-five location sites used. The pressbook also reports that Kramer spent a full year scouting locations before actual filming began. In his autobiography, Kramer noted that he had to obtain the permission of Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco in order to film the picture in Spain, and in July 1957, the Time review reported that Kramer had "enlisted the services of Dictator Franco's army and thousands of Spanish extras."
       Contemporary sources reported the number of extras used as between five and ten thousand, and that the film's final budget was approximately $4,000,000. The July 1956 Los Angeles Times article relayed that the sequence in which the gun is used to smash the wall at Avila had to be filmed twice because "dynamite charges planted in the stone walls failed to breach it the first time." According to Saturday Review (of Literature), the filmmakers "built a wall in front of the walls of Avila so that it wouldn't be necessary to knock down the real one." A modern source adds that the fake wall was constructed of cork. Modern sources include Bernabe Barta Berri, Xan das Bolas and Alfonso Surez in the cast.
       Kramer received a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures from the Directors Guild of America for his work on the picture. Although the film garnered mostly positive reviews, it was not a success at the box office, and in his autobiography, Kramer called the making of The Pride and the Passion "one of the most difficult and disappointing experiences" in his career. Kramer blamed the failure of the film on the miscasting and lack of chemistry between the three stars; the difficulty of meshing the story of the gun with the romantic triangle; and his own inability "to see in advance how perilous it was to make a film in which the hero was a thing rather than a human being."