The Secret of Santa Vittoria


2h 20m 1969
The Secret of Santa Vittoria

Brief Synopsis

During World War II, Italian villagers hide their wine from the German army.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Drama
War
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 15 Oct 1969
Production Company
The Stanley Kramer Corporation
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton (New York, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Italo Bombolini, a wine merchant in Santa Vittoria, celebrates news of Mussolini's death in 1945 by painting over an old fascist slogan. This act wins him the post of mayor. He imprisons the fascists as a gesture to the populace and, optimistic that a good government will work, reads Machiavelli's The Prince and forms a grand council. Soon Italo's son-in-law rushes into town with news that the retreating Germans are headed toward Santa Vittoria, intending to occupy the town and commandeer the wine supply, Santa Vittoria's chief source of wealth. Italo takes it upon himself to save the wine and commands the townspeople to form a "bucket brigade" to transport 1 million bottles to an old Roman cave just outside of town. The villagers complete their task just before the Germans, led by Captain Sepp von Prum, arrive and begin to look for the wine they know exists. Italo allows them to find a small cache of a few thousand bottles and the Germans decide to confiscate half. The SS arrives and informs von Prum that there is a great deal more than a few thousand bottles. Von Prum tries various means of obtaining the wine, but none work. Finally, von Prum and his men are ordered to leave. Von Prum, in a last attempt, puts a gun to Italo's head and asks the townspeople for information about the wine; no one comes forward. Von Prum admits defeat and departs, respectful of the man he had thought of as a buffoon.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Drama
War
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 15 Oct 1969
Production Company
The Stanley Kramer Corporation
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton (New York, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1969

Best Score

1969

Articles

The Secret of Santa Vittoria


Directed by the great Stanley Kramer, The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) is the picaresque tale of a small Italian town during WWII who defy the invading German army by hiding their greatest treasure... a secret cache of a million bottles of wine! In Kramer's own words from his autobiography A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World: A Life in Hollywood, "I envisioned the picture as a celebration of principle and resistance as, led by their bibulous and colorful mayor, Anthony Quinn, the townspeople refuse to knuckle under to their oppressors. I wanted the story to represent one town's indomitable spirit."

Based on Robert Crichton's novel of the same name, the film was shot on location in Italy, and the actual town of Santa Vittoria was first scouted for shooting. Instead of the scenic little village with quaint piazzas and fountains and cobblestone streets that Kramer had in mind, Santa Vittoria was now much more modern than the town depicted in the book. One hundred sixty-nine towns later, the perfect location was found: Anticoli Corrado. Kramer's team quickly worked out deals with the townspeople, whereupon some would remain as residents, others would actually work on the film, and still others took paid vacations on Kramer's budget in exchange for use of their homes during the four-month shoot. Kramer decreed, "Architecturally, the contours and dimensions of the square and the adjoining streets, made me settle on this town. The art department added a bell tower, one single façade, and a water tower for one particularly funny (and it turned out, dangerous) scene."

The scene in question is when the main character, Italo Bombolini (Quinn) is drunkenly attempting to descend from the water tower, assisted by his daughter's boyfriend. Although the most dangerous parts of the action were filmed on the ground, a few key shots had to be filmed on a platform several hundred feet high in which Quinn is pretending to resist the boyfriend's help-a couple of near-misses made for some nerve-racking moments! Quinn may have escaped injury then, but dealing with his costar Anna Magnani was another matter. Explained Kramer, "He and Magnani didn't get along at all. It's a wonder their scenes ever got finished. She didn't like him one bit, and in their big fight scene, when she was supposed to literally kick him out of the house, she did it so hard during the shooting that she broke her foot!" The passionate Magnini, who rose to acclaim with Roberto Rossellini's Roma, citta aperta (1945) intrigued Kramer from their first meeting, where he offered her the part in Vittoria.

He recalled, "She was a perfect lady. She greeted me in a formal gown, used a cigarette holder and spoke perfect English. She told me all about the studio there, where we would be doing some important interior sequences, and she described the business and artistic aspects of moviemaking in Rome with a great deal of insight and intelligence and class. I thought wow, what a lady she is! And then she gave me a warning: 'Don't eat at the commissary here-the food is sh*t.' It was then I knew she had another side to her."

Bad food and broken foot aside, the on-location shoot in Anticoli Corrado provided a poignant lesson in cross-cultural goodwill. When the production crew received word of Robert Kennedy's assassination, Kramer soon received a letter from the Italian union group working on the film, in which they decided that "the best way to honor the memory of a man of action is by action," and would be working an extra hour the next day in memory of the fallen politician. A touched Kramer replied the next morning in a town-wide announcement, "The decision of the Italian crew of The Secret of Santa Vittoria to dedicate one extra hour of work to the memory of Robert Kennedy has no parallel in motion-picture history. The American group in Anticoli Corrado is deeply honored to know you and privileged to be your coworkers." The good works didn't end there: all 500 villagers that appeared in the film donated a large part of their wages earned to pay for the restoration of Renaissance frescos in the Romanesque church of San Pietro, a national monument in Anticoli Corrado. Viewers may ask, what's the secret of Anticoli Corrado?

Producer: Stanley Kramer, George Glass
Director: Stanley Kramer
Screenplay: Robert Crichton, Ben Maddow, William Rose
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno
Film Editing: Earle Herdan, William A. Lyon
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy
Music: Ernest Gold
Cast: Anthony Quinn (Italo Bombolini), Anna Magnani (Rosa), Virna Lisi (Caterina Malatesta), Hardy Krüger (Capt. von Prum), Sergio Franchi (Tufa), Renato Rascel (Babbaluche).
C-139m. Letterboxed.

by Eleanor Quin
The Secret Of Santa Vittoria

The Secret of Santa Vittoria

Directed by the great Stanley Kramer, The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) is the picaresque tale of a small Italian town during WWII who defy the invading German army by hiding their greatest treasure... a secret cache of a million bottles of wine! In Kramer's own words from his autobiography A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World: A Life in Hollywood, "I envisioned the picture as a celebration of principle and resistance as, led by their bibulous and colorful mayor, Anthony Quinn, the townspeople refuse to knuckle under to their oppressors. I wanted the story to represent one town's indomitable spirit." Based on Robert Crichton's novel of the same name, the film was shot on location in Italy, and the actual town of Santa Vittoria was first scouted for shooting. Instead of the scenic little village with quaint piazzas and fountains and cobblestone streets that Kramer had in mind, Santa Vittoria was now much more modern than the town depicted in the book. One hundred sixty-nine towns later, the perfect location was found: Anticoli Corrado. Kramer's team quickly worked out deals with the townspeople, whereupon some would remain as residents, others would actually work on the film, and still others took paid vacations on Kramer's budget in exchange for use of their homes during the four-month shoot. Kramer decreed, "Architecturally, the contours and dimensions of the square and the adjoining streets, made me settle on this town. The art department added a bell tower, one single façade, and a water tower for one particularly funny (and it turned out, dangerous) scene." The scene in question is when the main character, Italo Bombolini (Quinn) is drunkenly attempting to descend from the water tower, assisted by his daughter's boyfriend. Although the most dangerous parts of the action were filmed on the ground, a few key shots had to be filmed on a platform several hundred feet high in which Quinn is pretending to resist the boyfriend's help-a couple of near-misses made for some nerve-racking moments! Quinn may have escaped injury then, but dealing with his costar Anna Magnani was another matter. Explained Kramer, "He and Magnani didn't get along at all. It's a wonder their scenes ever got finished. She didn't like him one bit, and in their big fight scene, when she was supposed to literally kick him out of the house, she did it so hard during the shooting that she broke her foot!" The passionate Magnini, who rose to acclaim with Roberto Rossellini's Roma, citta aperta (1945) intrigued Kramer from their first meeting, where he offered her the part in Vittoria. He recalled, "She was a perfect lady. She greeted me in a formal gown, used a cigarette holder and spoke perfect English. She told me all about the studio there, where we would be doing some important interior sequences, and she described the business and artistic aspects of moviemaking in Rome with a great deal of insight and intelligence and class. I thought wow, what a lady she is! And then she gave me a warning: 'Don't eat at the commissary here-the food is sh*t.' It was then I knew she had another side to her." Bad food and broken foot aside, the on-location shoot in Anticoli Corrado provided a poignant lesson in cross-cultural goodwill. When the production crew received word of Robert Kennedy's assassination, Kramer soon received a letter from the Italian union group working on the film, in which they decided that "the best way to honor the memory of a man of action is by action," and would be working an extra hour the next day in memory of the fallen politician. A touched Kramer replied the next morning in a town-wide announcement, "The decision of the Italian crew of The Secret of Santa Vittoria to dedicate one extra hour of work to the memory of Robert Kennedy has no parallel in motion-picture history. The American group in Anticoli Corrado is deeply honored to know you and privileged to be your coworkers." The good works didn't end there: all 500 villagers that appeared in the film donated a large part of their wages earned to pay for the restoration of Renaissance frescos in the Romanesque church of San Pietro, a national monument in Anticoli Corrado. Viewers may ask, what's the secret of Anticoli Corrado? Producer: Stanley Kramer, George Glass Director: Stanley Kramer Screenplay: Robert Crichton, Ben Maddow, William Rose Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno Film Editing: Earle Herdan, William A. Lyon Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy Music: Ernest Gold Cast: Anthony Quinn (Italo Bombolini), Anna Magnani (Rosa), Virna Lisi (Caterina Malatesta), Hardy Krüger (Capt. von Prum), Sergio Franchi (Tufa), Renato Rascel (Babbaluche). C-139m. Letterboxed. by Eleanor Quin

TCM Remembers - Stanley Kramer


In High Noon (1952), a sheriff stands alone as the clock ticks down toward a deadly showdown. A World War II veteran is forced to come to terms with his paralyzed body in The Men (1950). On the front lines of battle, an African American soldier is hounded by racist comrades in the groundbreaking drama, Home of the Brave (1949).

With these films, Stanley Kramer built his reputation as a producer of important films. He made movies with a conscience, movies with a message. Although his films were sometimes criticized as being too simplistic in dealing with tough subjects, Kramer still deserves a great deal of credit for tackling sensitive subject matter no other director or studio wanted to address. His exploration of timely social issues is what makes his cinema unique and his recent passing leaves us with no one to fill his shoes.

Kramer learned his craft within Hollywood's studio system. He began as a production assistant on So Ends Our Night(1941) and was soon writing and editing. By the late forties, Kramer broke away from the studio hierarchy and formed an independent production company. Outside of the Hollywood system, he could tackle social issues head-on while producing well-crafted and meaningful dramas. In The New York Times obituary for Kramer, the director was quoted in accessing his own career and it's most appropriate here: "I decided that somewhere between the films on outer space and Sylvester Stallone, there is a place for me. I was always associated with films that had an opinion. I don't believe films change anyone's mind, but I was spawned during the Roosevelt era, a time of great change, and I still believe in trying to get people to think."

For his directorial debut, Not As A Stranger (1955), Kramer signed up the all-star cast of Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Olivia de Havilland and Gloria Grahame to reveal the trials and tribulations of doctors and nurses balancing medical school with their personal relationships. In The Defiant Ones (1958) shackled Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier together as escaped convicts. As they flee the law they're forced to confront each other's racism and ultimately discover that beneath their skin color, they are not so different. On the Beach (1959) was Kramer's anti-atom bomb polemic in which Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire survive an initial nuclear holocaust only to face a slow, painful death from fallout.

From the arms race to Biblical scripture, the following year Kramer turned his attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Inherit the Wind(1960). This famous courtroom trial was a true-life clash of the titans as Fredric March and Spencer Tracy face off on the issue of Evolution versus Creationism. Although names are changed, March gave a grandstanding performance as William Jennings Bryan, the mouthpiece for conservatism, while Tracy played Clarence Darrow, a tireless fighter for progressive thought.

Kramer's films were more than just entertainment; his stories were political platforms for the Civil Rights Movement, disarmament and liberal thinking. For audiences who thought the director couldn't take on an issue greater than the Scopes Monkey Trial, Kramer's next film would prove to be even more controversial. Again, Kramer booked a cast of Hollywood's hottest names to bring mass appeal to his very serious film.

In Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Spencer Tracy presides over a German war-criminal trial which delves into the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Burt Lancaster sits smugly on the stand as Ernst Janning, an unrepentant officer of the Gestapo, as Maximilian Schell mounts his defense. Montgomery Clift, as a Jew subjected to a sterilization experiment, nervously submits his testimony. Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich each take the stand. Hollywood's greatest stars came out to shed light on one of the darkest moments of the 20th century. The Academy responded with 11 nominations, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Tracy), Supporting Actor (Clift), Supporting Actress (Garland), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing. Schell won Best Actor for his dynamic performance as Herr Rolfe.

However, Stanley Kramer wasn't "Mr. Message Film" all the time. In a lighter moment, he produced the surrealist anti-fascist fantasy, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T(1953) in which he enlisted the talents of Dr. Seuss. More famously, he pooled the greatest comics together for an insane Cinerama screwball farce - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

By Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

TCM Remembers - Stanley Kramer

In High Noon (1952), a sheriff stands alone as the clock ticks down toward a deadly showdown. A World War II veteran is forced to come to terms with his paralyzed body in The Men (1950). On the front lines of battle, an African American soldier is hounded by racist comrades in the groundbreaking drama, Home of the Brave (1949). With these films, Stanley Kramer built his reputation as a producer of important films. He made movies with a conscience, movies with a message. Although his films were sometimes criticized as being too simplistic in dealing with tough subjects, Kramer still deserves a great deal of credit for tackling sensitive subject matter no other director or studio wanted to address. His exploration of timely social issues is what makes his cinema unique and his recent passing leaves us with no one to fill his shoes. Kramer learned his craft within Hollywood's studio system. He began as a production assistant on So Ends Our Night(1941) and was soon writing and editing. By the late forties, Kramer broke away from the studio hierarchy and formed an independent production company. Outside of the Hollywood system, he could tackle social issues head-on while producing well-crafted and meaningful dramas. In The New York Times obituary for Kramer, the director was quoted in accessing his own career and it's most appropriate here: "I decided that somewhere between the films on outer space and Sylvester Stallone, there is a place for me. I was always associated with films that had an opinion. I don't believe films change anyone's mind, but I was spawned during the Roosevelt era, a time of great change, and I still believe in trying to get people to think." For his directorial debut, Not As A Stranger (1955), Kramer signed up the all-star cast of Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Olivia de Havilland and Gloria Grahame to reveal the trials and tribulations of doctors and nurses balancing medical school with their personal relationships. In The Defiant Ones (1958) shackled Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier together as escaped convicts. As they flee the law they're forced to confront each other's racism and ultimately discover that beneath their skin color, they are not so different. On the Beach (1959) was Kramer's anti-atom bomb polemic in which Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire survive an initial nuclear holocaust only to face a slow, painful death from fallout. From the arms race to Biblical scripture, the following year Kramer turned his attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Inherit the Wind(1960). This famous courtroom trial was a true-life clash of the titans as Fredric March and Spencer Tracy face off on the issue of Evolution versus Creationism. Although names are changed, March gave a grandstanding performance as William Jennings Bryan, the mouthpiece for conservatism, while Tracy played Clarence Darrow, a tireless fighter for progressive thought. Kramer's films were more than just entertainment; his stories were political platforms for the Civil Rights Movement, disarmament and liberal thinking. For audiences who thought the director couldn't take on an issue greater than the Scopes Monkey Trial, Kramer's next film would prove to be even more controversial. Again, Kramer booked a cast of Hollywood's hottest names to bring mass appeal to his very serious film. In Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) Spencer Tracy presides over a German war-criminal trial which delves into the atrocities of the Nazi regime. Burt Lancaster sits smugly on the stand as Ernst Janning, an unrepentant officer of the Gestapo, as Maximilian Schell mounts his defense. Montgomery Clift, as a Jew subjected to a sterilization experiment, nervously submits his testimony. Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich each take the stand. Hollywood's greatest stars came out to shed light on one of the darkest moments of the 20th century. The Academy responded with 11 nominations, including for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Tracy), Supporting Actor (Clift), Supporting Actress (Garland), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Editing. Schell won Best Actor for his dynamic performance as Herr Rolfe. However, Stanley Kramer wasn't "Mr. Message Film" all the time. In a lighter moment, he produced the surrealist anti-fascist fantasy, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T(1953) in which he enlisted the talents of Dr. Seuss. More famously, he pooled the greatest comics together for an insane Cinerama screwball farce - It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). By Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Filmed in Italy.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 1969

Released in United States Fall October 1969