Cast & Crew
Arturo De Córdova
In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, American teacher-turned-Republican soldier Robert Jordan reluctantly keeps his promise to kill his compatriot Kashkin after he is wounded while escaping from a Nationalist troop train they have blown up, so that Kashkin will not be captured. Robert, known as "Roberto" by the Spaniards, then goes to Madrid to report to Republican General Golz. In the midst of an air raid, Golz assigns Robert to blow up a strategic bridge at dawn, the exact moment the Republicans are to launch a surprise air assault. Golz gives Robert three days to prepare, and sends him to hide in the mountains with an older Spanish guide named Anselmo. After spying on the Nationalist outpost near the bridge, Anselmo leads Robert to a mountain cave, which serves as a hideout for a small band of guerrilla soldiers and Gypsy refugees led by a man named Pablo. Robert hides the dynamite in the cave and meets his new compatriots: Pablo, a relentless freedom fighter now reduced to a surly drunkard; Pilar, Pablo's homely but courageous wife; Rafael, a cheerful gypsy; Primitivo; Andres; Fernando; and Maria, a young Spanish refugee who was brutalized by the Nationalists after they murdered her parents, and was then rescued from a prison train by Pablo and his gang. Robert seeks the gypsies' help to carry out his orders, but, fearing a Nationalist reprisal, Pablo refuses. Pilar then frankly informs Robert that she no longer trusts Pablo, and rallies the others to back her. Late that night, Maria warns Robert to be wary of Pablo, who is now hostile because Pilar has taken command of the little group. The next morning, Fernando reveals that he had sneaked away from camp to spend the night in town with his wife, and overheard Nationalists discussing rumors of a Republican attack at the bridge. Pilar, Maria and Robert hike through the mountains to meet with the rebel El Sordo, a gypsy renegade, who promises to steal the horses they will require for their escape after the bombing. Sensing the attraction between Robert and Maria, Pilar purposely leaves them alone together, and they fall in love. A snowstorm blows in that night, and everyone worries that Nationalist guards scouting the mountains may follow the tracks of El Sordo's stolen horses to their outpost. Pablo's drunken ravings prompt his compatriots to throw him out, even though they need his intimate knowledge of the mountains to help them escape after the attack. After Pablo leaves, Pilar tells Robert that Pablo was not always a coward, and that when the war broke out, he was a fearless leader. Noting that he organized the citizens against a Nationalist attack, Pilar recounts how Pablo saved their town: One morning, Pablo blows up the wall around city hall after the Nationalists refuse to surrender, then mercilessly shoots four guards who approach him with their hands up. Pablo takes over the building and sends out city officials one by one to the angry mob of local citizens. All of the officials are brutally attacked by the mob and then thrown off a high cliff to their deaths. Pilar is sickened by the savagery of her countrymen and refuses to take part. Back in the present, Pilar recalls that when Pablo allowed the mob into the building, they killed the rest of their prisoners. When Pablo returns to the cave, he has a changed attitude and tells Pilar that he regrets his past brutality, and if he could, would restore life to every man he killed. Now sober, Pablo pledges his support for the bridge attack. The next day, Robert spots a Nationalist cavalryman near the cave and shoots him. The dead soldier's troop appears, and El Sordo's gang intercepts them and defends the mountain outpost until they are killed by fighter planes. While Pablo is alone in the cave, he steals Robert's ignition unit and throws it in the fire. When Anselmo reports that Nationalist troops at the bridge are being fortified, Robert realizes that they have learned of the imminent attack, and sends Andres across enemy lines with a message for Golz to stop the attack. That night, after Maria confesses to Robert that Nationalist soldiers raped her the night they murdered her parents, she and Robert consummate their love. Before dawn, Pilar discovers Pablo's sabotage, and Robert starts to assemble a new charge unit with a hand grenade. Pablo confesses that his treachery was inspired by his fear of death, as he discovered that El Sordo's gang had been beheaded after being killed. Pablo now wholeheartedly supports their efforts. Andres, meanwhile, is sent through a long chain of command before he is able to reach Golz. As Robert's motley troop assembles at their posts near the bridge, Golz receives the message, but the planes have already departed to attack the bridge outpost. As the attack begins, Pilar fights alongside the men, while Pablo and his three new recruits kill the men at the guardhouse, and Anselmo reluctantly kills a sentry he knew from his village. Robert sets the makeshift explosive in the bridge girders. When tanks start pulling in, Rafael boldly drops a grenade inside a tank, but is killed shortly after it explodes. As the Nationalist tanks close in, Anselmo refuses to pull the cord to explode the dynamite because Robert is still on the bridge. Robert makes a desperate dash to pull the cord, and the resulting explosion not only destroys the bridge and a tank, but also kills Anselmo. The gypsy troupe escapes into the mountains, where Maria waits with the horses. Pablo arrives after cold-bloodedly killing his three recruits, so that there will be enough horses for everyone, not realizing that three of his group already have been killed. When they are forced to gallop past enemy fire, everyone escapes unharmed, but Robert's leg is broken when his wounded horse falls on him. Knowing he will be unable to complete the ride to the city of Gredos, Robert arranges for Pilar and Pablo to leave him behind with a machine gun to cover their escape. Maria refuses to leave his side until he assures her that his spirit will live on with her. As they leave Robert behind, Maria becomes hysterical and proceeds only because Pilar forces her. Alone, Robert struggles to remain conscious by thinking of Maria, and as the soldiers approach, he ensures her safety by gunning them down.
Arturo De Córdova
Pedro De Cordoba
Jean Del Val
Monroe W. Burbank
B. G. Desylva
Arthur A. Lane
John F. Link
William Cameron Menzies
Oliver C. Stratton
Best Supporting Actress
Best Art Direction
Best Supporting Actor
For Whom the Bell Tolls
With several studios bidding for film rights, Hemingway chose Paramount, not just for their $150,000 offer, but because his friend Gary Cooper, on whom he had based the novel's leading man, was under contract there. Initially, Cecil B. De Mille was supposed to direct, but as the writing dragged on for three years, the project passed to Sam Wood, who had just scored a hit directing Cooper in The Pride of the Yankees (1942).
Choosing a leading lady proved a major issue. Ingrid Bergman desperately wanted to play Maria, convinced the role would establish her as a major dramatic actress. She met Hemingway and impressed him as the best choice for the role. But somebody at Paramount - nobody will accept responsibility - decided to give the role to Vera Zorina, a ballet dancer under contract there at the time. Rumors suggest she was having an affair with somebody at the top (she was married to choreographer George Balanchine at the time). Just as likely is the fact that her salary was considerably lower than the fee Paramount would have had to pay for Bergman.
Instead of the career-making role in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Bergman had to settle for the lead in a minor World War II drama at Warner Bros. - Casablanca (1943). But as shooting for both films progressed, word came down from the For Whom the Bell Tolls locations in the Sierra Nevadas that Zorina was not working out. After three weeks of disastrous rushes, Bergman was called in to audition. She won the coveted role during the final days of shooting on Casablanca and quickly drove to the remote location. She also had her hair cut off for the role, a style that swept the nation.
Almost as much drama lay behind the casting of Pilar, the rebel leader's wife most critics considered the book's most vividly drawn character. Almost every character actress in Hollywood was tested, including British actress Flora Robson and Russian legend Alla Nazimova. The studio announced stage veteran Blanche Yurka for the role. Then they met Katina Paxinou, the first lady of the Greek stage. She had been on a U.S. tour when World War II hit her homeland, stranding her in the states. When she tested, she informed the executives that she came from three generations of guerillas in her native land. Not only did she win the role, but she pretty much stole the film from its Hollywood stars.
When For Whom the Bell Tolls opened, there was one thing missing from the picture - the story's politics. Francisco Franco's Fascists were the villains of Hemingway's story, but they had won the Spanish Civil War. Spain was neutral territory in World War II, and applied pressure on Paramount to re-write history. As a result, the film never clearly identifies Cooper and his allies as members of Spain's liberal Republicans or the enemies as Franco's soldiers. Instead the film focused on the love affair between Cooper and Bergman. Their electricity together was real. Bergman would later say that she fell hopelessly in love with him on location, though the relationship remained platonic.
The film's apolitical nature may have hurt it on Oscar® night, when it was up for nine awards but lost Best Picture to the decidedly partisan Casablanca. Cooper and Bergman were nominated, too, but both lost out. The film's only winner was Paxinou, who was named Best Supporting Actress. She brought politics back into the picture in her acceptance speech. First she praised the Allied soldiers who were "fighting for liberty and human dignity." Then she dedicated the award to her colleagues at the Royal Theatre of Athens. "I hope they are still alive," she said, "but I doubt it."
Producer: Buddy G. DeSylva (executive) uncredited, Sam Wood
Director: Sam Wood
Writing Credits: Ernest Hemingway (novel), Dudley Nichols
Production Design: William Cameron Menzies
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Film Editing: John Link, Sherman Todd
Original Music: Walter Kent, Victor Young
Cast: Gary Cooper (Robert Jordan), Ingrid Bergman (Maria), Katina Paxinou (Pilar), Akim Tamiroff (Pablo), Arturo de Cordova (Agustin), Vladimir Sokoloff (Anselmo), Mikhail Rasumny (Rafael), Fortunio Bonanova (Fernando), Yvonne De Carlo (Girl in Cafe).
C-170m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller
For Whom the Bell Tolls
I do not know how to kiss, or I would kiss you. Where do the noses go?- Maria
A man fights for what he believes in, Fernando!- Robert Jordan
Ingrid Bergman's first Technicolor film.
This movie saved Casablanca's famous love theme, "As Time Goes By." Ingrid Bergman began filming For Whom the Bell Tolls immediately after completing Casablanca. For the role, she cut her hair short. Meanwhile, Warner Brothers wanted to substitute another song for "As Time Goes By" and re-shoot some scenes with Bergman. But since she had cut her hair, the inserts would no longer match (even with a wig), so the idea was dropped.
Ernest Hemingway had Ingrid Bergman in mind as "Maria" while he was writing the novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
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 Fernández, 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 picture...is 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).