Cast & Crew
Vittorio De Sica
When Philadelphia lawyer Michael Hamilton travels to Naples, Italy to settle the affairs of his late, estranged brother Joseph, he cynically assumes that all Italians are interested only in bilking tourists. Mike's suspicions are heightened by his glib Italian lawyer, Mario Vitale, who reveals that the profligate Joe died with his wife in a boating accident. Upon Mike's retort that Joe's wife is alive and well in Philadelphia, Mario states that Joe and his common-law Italian wife left behind an eight-year-old son, Nando, who is being reared by his aunt, Lucia Curcio. After Mike grumpily protests that he needs proof that Nando is his nephew, Mario takes him to a street festival and introduces him to a regally costumed Lucia. Lucia is furious that Mike may have come to take away Nando and dismisses him after stating that they live happily on the nearby isle of Capri. Undeterred, Mike travels to Capri, where he inadvertently meets Nando when he requests a guide to Lucia's villa. Mike does not introduce himself at first, but after noting Nando's resemblance to Joe and his habit of whistling at pretty girls, shakes the enterprising boy's hand and states "welcome to the family." Upon entering Nando and Lucia's ancient yet homey villa, Mike is bemused by Nando's self-sufficiency as the boy cooks dinner. Lucia is upset by Mike's surprise visit and claims that because their real villa burned down, they are living in the servants' quarters. As her lie unravels, Lucia rails against judgmental Americans, but Mike disarms her with his quips. He then reveals that because Joe wrote to him only when he wanted money, he did not know about Joe's death for more than a year. He also asks what happened to the $14,000 he had sent to Joe over the years, and Lucia and Nando reply that Joe built a fireworks business, but because his fireworks were so specialized and expensive, he died bankrupt. Lucia, who is devoted to Nando despite her lackadaisical approach to parenting, is relieved when Mike asserts that he has no desire to take the boy and instead promises to send money for his care. Although Nando is dismayed by his uncle's lack of interest in him, Mike departs, but discovers that he has missed the last boat back to Naples. Kept awake by the music playing in the palazzo under his hotel room window, Mike wanders down to inspect the nightlife. He is shocked to find Nando handing out flyers featuring a scantily clad Lucia, who performs at a local nightclub. After sending Nando home, Mike goes to the club, and although he enjoys Lucia's performance, he remains suspicious of her. Mike gives a waiter half of a large banknote, along with his room key, to pass along to Lucia, but instructs him not to tell her who sent them. Mike's fears that Lucia's affections are for sale appear to be realized when he finds her reclining on his hotel bed, but she laughingly states that the waiter told her who he was. Not appreciating her joke, Mike insists that she is a terrible parent to Nando, who does not even attend school. After Mike announces that he will be sending Nando to the American school in Rome, Lucia storms out. When she returns home, she yells at Nando that he must go to school and start behaving properly. Nando replies angrily but the pair soon wind up crying in each other's arms. The next day, Mike comes for Nando, but when Lucia declares that Mike is trying to kidnap the boy, her neighbors disparage him and all Americans. Forced to leave, Mike returns to the hotel. Later, he is visited by Nando, who states that without him to look after her, the impulsive Lucia will get into trouble. Mike tries to impress upon the boy the importance of a good education, but Nando describes with derision how Americans treat Italians like his mother, who did not even get a wedding ring. Soon after, Lucia receives notice that Mike is seeking custody of Nando. That night, Mike shoots off the rest of Joe's fireworks in hopes of drawing out Nando. His plan succeeds as the little boy joins him, and soon Nando spends his days showing Mike around Capri. One afternoon, Mike meets with Mario to discuss their legal strategy, and Mario, who secretly hopes to play matchmaker, tells him that Lucia "bears a great affection" for him, and suggests he settle the problem without resorting to the courts. After Mike leaves, Lucia confronts Mario, who tells her that Mike bears a great affection for her, and that she can charm him into letting her keep Nando. That night, Mike visits Lucia at the club and they dance for hours. As they spend more time together, Mike relaxes, dressing more casually and acting less formally. One evening, at another street festival, as Nando and Mike watch Lucia in the procession, Nando asks when Mike is going to marry Lucia. Mike tries to explain that he has other obligations and merely has been having fun with Lucia, and the disillusioned Nando runs away. Meanwhile, Renzo, Lucia's guitarist, tells her that he has arranged for them to tour Italy together. They are interrupted by Mike, who confesses to Lucia that Nando ran off after their argument. Mike also tells Lucia what they argued about, and although Lucia pretends that she never took their relationship seriously, she is deeply wounded. Lucia declares that she was leading Mike on to keep Nando, and Mike retorts that he will see her in court. Later, in the courtroom, Mario does his best to influence the judges in Lucia's favor. Mike then speaks, declaring that he only wants Nando to have the best opportunities life can offer. Lucia wins the case but, moved by Mike's dreams for Nando, tells her nephew that she is going to tour with Renzo and that he would get in the way if he came along. Crushed by her rejection, Nando gets drunk and goes to Mike's hotel, where he tells his uncle that he wants to be an "Americano." Later, at the train station, Nando reveals that Lucia was crying when she told him she did not want him anymore, and Mike deduces the sacrifice Lucia is making. Mike then gives Nando money to return to Capri and boards the train. When he enters his compartment, however, the boorish manners of three American tourists make him realize that he belongs in Italy. Jumping off the train, Mike joins the ecstatic Nando on the platform. They then return to Capri, and after Mike gives Lucia a bouquet of balloons, the new family walks off together.
Vittorio De Sica
Carmelina Of Capri
Suso Cecchi D'amico
John C. Hammell
Robert L. Surtees
Best Art Direction
It Started in Naples
The picture, a comedy-drama, casts Gable as a tough, shrewd Philadelphia lawyer who arrives in Naples to settle the affairs of his recently-deceased brother. Unbeknownst to Gable, his brother has left behind an 8-year-old son, Nando, who is living alone with his aunt (Loren) on Capri. Loren is a nightclub performer who dreams of a movie career. Gable is horrified to see that Nando drinks, smokes, and picks pockets, and a custody battle ensues; inevitably, Gable starts to succumb to Loren's beauty and charms.
The two stars were at very different places in their careers and lives. For Gable, 57, this would be his next-to-last picture. He was married to his fifth wife, Kay Williams, who was with him in Italy during production, and he was still drinking and smoking heavily despite having recently suffered a mild heart attack. His looks were clearly fading because of all the excess. Twenty-four-year-old Sophia Loren, on the other hand, was approaching the peak of her beauty and success, and had recently (and scandalously) married Italian producer Carlo Ponti.
For this production, Gable's contract stipulated that he would work from 9-5 and not a moment longer. Loren later remembered, "We were in the middle of a love scene when a piercing buzz erupted from the vicinity of his wrist. Clark immediately released me, gave me a pat and a see-you-tomorrow, and disappeared. That's how it was with Gable. A thorough professional. He came on time, knew his lines and left the instant his wristwatch buzzed at five o'clock."
It Started in Naples opened on Aug. 7, 1960. Three months later Gable died of a heart attack. He had completed one final film, The Misfits, which would be released in February 1961. When Loren heard the news of Gable's death, she was in the middle of filming Two Women (a 1961 U.S. release), and she was so distraught that production was shut down for the rest of the day. She would, however, end up winning an Oscar® for that performance in early 1962.
During production of It Started in Naples, Loren was going through quite a bit of personal drama. She had recently married Carlo Ponti by proxy, while she was in Hollywood and he was in Mexico divorcing his first wife, but divorce was illegal and unrecognized in Italy and therefore he faced bigamy charges there. In the end, his marriage to Loren was annulled, he and his first wife became French citizens and were re-divorced in France, and he and Loren then remarried and had two children. They were still married when he died in 2007.
The movie also represented something of a bittersweet homecoming for Sophia Loren. Having grown up in poverty in Naples, she was making her first return to the area as a big Hollywood star and a central figure in a bigamy case. According to biographer Warren Harris, "In the same streets where she nearly starved during the war, people hung out of windows and shouted at her with love or damnation."
A third major star of the movie was Italy itself. Filmed in Naples, Rome and Capri, with interiors at Cinecitta Studios, It Started in Naples was shot by top-drawer cameraman Robert Surtees, who had just completed Ben-Hur (1959) and had won Oscars® for King Solomon's Mines (1950) and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Here he was working in VistaVision and Technicolor, and the results were brilliant. If the critics were lukewarm in their praise for the film, they did all agree on the gorgeous look of it, and of voluptuous Sophia Loren herself. "The major thing to look at is Miss Loren," panted The New York Times. The movie received a sole Oscar nomination, for Best Color Art Direction. (It lost to Spartacus.)
Appearing in It Started in Naples as a local lawyer hired by Gable is renowned Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica. The producers had sought his help to incorporate a genuine Neopolitan atmosphere into the story, and De Sica in turn steered them to the writer Suso Cecchi d'Amico, who had written De Sica's The Bicycle Thief (1948). D'Amico polished the Naples script by Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose, deepening Loren's character and added bits of business throughout. As thanks, De Sica was given his acting role, and he took the opportunity to help guide Loren's performance a little bit, too. He had already directed her in one Italian feature and would do so seven more times, including Two Women, the movie for which she would soon win her Best Actress Oscar®.
Producer: Jack Rose
Director: Melville Shavelson
Screenplay: Suso Cecchi d'Amico, Melville Shavelson, Jack Rose; Michael Pertwee, Jack Davies (story)
Cinematography: Robert L. Surtees
Art Direction: Roland Anderson, Hal Pereira
Music: Alessandro Cicognini, Carlo Savina
Film Editing: Frank Bracht
Cast: Clark Gable (Michael Hamilton), Sophia Loren (Lucia Curcio), Vittorio De Sica (Mario Vitale), Marietto (Nando Hamilton), Paolo Carlini (Renzo), Giovanni Filidoro (Gennariello), Claudio Ermelli (Luigi).
by Jeremy Arnold
It Started in Naples
A man can be a pig and a lawyer at the same time.- Mario Vitale
The movie was filmed in and around Naples and Sophia Loren had to sneak into the country to make the movie because the Italian Government was investigating her Mexican "marriage" to 'Carlos Ponti' who was still legally married to another woman.
The working titles of this film were Song of Capri, The Isle of Capri and Bay of Naples. The credit for the creation of the film's title cards reads: "Titles created by Color Co-ordinator Hoyningen-Huene from paintings by Carmelina of Capri." The credits are shown over brightly colored, cartoon-like paintings of Italian boats and houses. Songwriter Nicola Salerno is credited onscreen as "Nisa," his popular nickname, and Lojacono Corrado is credited as "R. Poes." Songwriter Eduardo Verde is listed simply as "Verde." Voice-over narration by Clark Gable, as "Michael Hamilton," is heard intermittently throughout the film.
According to an August 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Italian pop singer Domenico Modugno had been signed for a "top role" in the film. Although the news item announced that Modugno would sing two of his already well-known songs in the picture, and write and sing a new one, he does not appear in the film. He did, however, co-write the song "Stay Here with Me (Resta cu'mme)," which is heard in the picture. A September 3, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Dorothy De Poliolo had been added to the cast, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to a June 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Charles Taylor and Luigi Zaccardi had been "laying groundwork" for the film's location shooting in Italy, but the exact nature of their contribution to the picture has not been determined.
As reported by contemporary sources, interiors for the film were shot at Rome's Cinecittà Studios, and the exteriors were shot in Rome, Naples and various locations on the island of Capri, including the famed Blue Grotto. A September 15, 1959 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rome" column reported that due to "Capri's worst hurricane in seventy years," much of the "advance construction" had been destroyed and exterior shooting had been temporarily delayed. The company instead shot interiors while emergency crews rebuilt the necessary facades.
According to a modern source, Sophia Loren's husband, producer Carlo Ponti, suggested to the writing-producing-directing team of Melville Shavelson and Jack Rose that they approach noted Italian filmmaker and actor Vittorio De Sica for help injecting a Neopolitan "flavor" into the script. De Sica recommended that they employ writer Suso Cecchi d'Amico, with whom De Sica worked on his famed 1948 picture Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief). In thanks, and to further deepen the production's Italian feel, Shavelson and Rose gave De Sica the co-starring role of "Mario Vitale." Loren and De Sica had earlier starred together in the 1954 Italian film L'oro de Napoli (The Gold of Naples), and worked together many times, both as co-stars and director and star, until De Sica's death in 1974.
It Started in Naples received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction (Color). The Hollywood Reporter review incorrectly stated that Loren, who had appeared in numerous American productions prior to It Started in Naples, had "never been seen before in American films." The picture did mark Loren's last under her contract with Paramount. Marietto, the young Italian actor who is "introduced" in the onscreen credits, had made three Italian films prior to It Started in Naples, which marked his first American-financed picture. Marietto again worked with Shavelson in the 1962 Paramount release The Pigeon That Took Rome (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).
Released in United States on Video July 8, 1991
Released in United States Summer August 1960
Released in United States on Video July 8, 1991
Released in United States Summer August 1960