Bells of San Fernando


1h 14m 1947

Brief Synopsis

Mendoza ruthlessly controls the valley of San Fernando and his men guard the only entrance. When Mendoza announces he will marry Michael's girl friend Maria, Michael plans an escape. He hopes to reach the Governor and bring back the troops.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Hillcrest Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Screen Guild Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

For five years, Paradise Valley in Spanish-controlled California has been overseen by the cruel, greedy Juan Mendoza, who keeps guards posted at the isolated valley's only pass in order to prevent his subjects from leaving and reporting his actions to the outside world. One day, Mendoza informs pious blacksmith Francisco Garcia that he is hosting a fiesta at his hacienda and demands that he and his daughter Maria, whom he has long coveted, attend. Although Garcia despises Mendoza and wants Maria to marry tile maker Michael O'Brien, an Irish seaman who years before wandered into the valley, he is compelled to accept the invitation. When Garcia, who forges church bells, learns that his enormous assistant, Gueyon, has discovered gold in the ground near the valley's mission, he goes to see Father Xavier to ask permission to secretly mine the lode. Aware that Garcia desires the gold so that he can forge his bells with it as a way of repenting for past sins, Father Xavier reluctantly allows Gueyon to continue prospecting. Later, at the fiesta, Mendoza announces that he is marrying Maria, even though Garcia had earlier refused him permission. Mendoza's presumptuousness infuriates Michael, who then challenges Mendoza to a duel. The cowardly Mendoza refuses to fight, however, prompting feisty Michael to knock him down. Enraged with humiliation, Mendoza orders his men to arrest Michael, but the Irishman escapes the hacienda and hides at the mission. While waiting for his opportunity to flee the valley, Michael helps Gueyon mine for gold, which is then smelted and poured into Garcia's bell casts. As Mendoza's wedding to Maria is fast approaching, Michael becomes anxious to make his escape and agrees to Gueyon's plan to sneak past Mendoza's guards while hiding in the tile wagon. Garcia and Gueyon send Perdido, an Indian under Father Xavier's charge, with information regarding the tile wagon rendezvous point. Before reaching Michael, however, Perdido is shot and killed by Mendoza's men, who then find a gold nugget in his pouch, which was to have been used to bribe Pablo, the wagon driver. Excited, the men turn the nugget over to Mendoza, who questions Father Xavier about it without success. Gueyon, meanwhile, gives Michael more gold and leads him to Pablo's wagon. Michael is thrilled to discover Maria already hidden in the wagon and gives Pablo some gold to get them through the pass. While stopped at the guards' post, Pablo quietly alerts the men about the fugitive's presence, but Michael and Maria sense his betrayal and dash off on Pablo's horses. Eventually, Michael and Maria reach Monterey, and are received by the governor, the kindly Don Sebastian Fernando. After telling Don Sebastian about Mendoza, he agrees to go with them to Paradise Valley to confront the overseer. At Mendoza's hacienda, meanwhile, Nita, his ambitious half-Indian lover, informs him that Maria is in the village, grieving over Michael. When Mendoza reacts to the news with anger, Nita is filled with jealousy, but is placated when Mendoza promises to take her to Spain with him. Later, however, after she tells him about Garcia's gold, Nita realizes that he was feigning his love in order to extract information from her. Aware that Mendoza is planning to torture and kill Garcia to get the gold, a vengeful Nita rushes to warn the blacksmith but is killed by Mendoza's men. Mendoza then captures Garcia, Gueyon and Father Xavier and threatens to put out the priest's eyes unless the gold's whereabouts is revealed. Gueyon finally agrees to take Mendoza to the gold and, at the church, points to the bells. Sure that he is stalling, Mendoza starts to whip Gueyon, who then grabs the bell posts and yanks them to the ground, killing Mendoza. Michael and Maria, who have rescued Garcia and Father Xavier, arrive at the church in time to see the brave Gueyon die. Later, Don Sebastian gives his official blessing to Michael and Maria's marriage and decrees that Michael, now a citizen of Spain, will be the valley's new overseer.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Hillcrest Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Screen Guild Productions, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 14m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's opening scene includes a brief narration, in which the history of Paradise Valley is discussed. The opening credits misspell Set dresser Tommy Thompson's name as "Thomson." Modern sources add Angelo Rossitto to the cast.