Cast & Crew
Joe De Santis
As her pregnancy nears its eighth month, Emily Rocco, married seven years and about to have her first baby, experiences dissatisfaction with herself and her Los Angeles house. She is obsessed with cleanliness and with trying to understand her life through the philosophy books she reads. Her writer-husband Nick tries to challenge her lapses into morbidity by saying their house will soon be full of life, with the babies they will have and books he will write. One day, the floor in the kitchen gives way from a termite infestation, and Emily falls through the hole. Although the doctor pronounces her fine, Emily moans that with her added weight she is a burden to Nick, and that as a pregnant woman, she is no longer attractive. Nick realizes they cannot afford to fix the floor. Emily suggests that they ask Nick's father Vittorio, an Italian-born stonemason now living in the Sacramento Valley, and despite Nick's reservations, they fly to his parents' home. Papa graciously greets Emily, but is curt with his son. When Nick's mother has a fainting spell, Papa is unconcerned, and after a short rest, she is ordered to get up and kill a chicken for supper. The next day, Papa takes Emily to a beautiful spot nearby for which he says he has paid a fifty-dollar deposit to a "paisano" so that he can build a stone house for her, Nick and the baby. Meanwhile, Nick has arranged for his mother to ask Papa to fix the hole. When Papa learns that they bought a house without telling him, and that it is made of stucco, which he hates, he slaps his son, then goes off to drink in Sacramento. Emily tells Nick that she likes the area and thinks it will be good for children, but Nick does not feel he could write with his father nearby. That night, when Mama gives Emily her wedding dress, insisting that she and Nick must have a church wedding, in addition to their earlier civil ceremony, Emily gently reminds her that she is not a Catholic. Papa finally agrees to help with the hole, but upon arriving at the house, he immediately complains about smog, lack of shade and trees, and the grass. Rather than work on the floor, Papa wants to dictate a story to Nick about his Uncle Mingo and some pirates for his future grandson. Papa falls asleep from drinking as he tells the story, and Nick stays up until five in the morning finishing it. Nick is hurt that neither Papa nor Emily want to read it, and after a boy delivers liquor that Papa ordered, Nick yells at his father to fix the hole. Just then, Father Gondolfo from the neighborhood parish comes by in response to Papa's earlier request. When he questions Nick about the reason he has stopped going to church, Nick says that his thinking and the world has changed, while the church has not. Papa then takes Nick away so that the priest can talk alone with Emily. Nick, to his father's distress, says he does not want the church, which does not allow birth control, to dictate his life. After the priest leaves, Emily tells Papa directly, yet kindly, that she cannot become a Catholic just because he wants her to be one. She says that she wants God in her home for herself and for her child, but that she cannot change overnight. Papa is worried that they will not have time to arrange a Catholic wedding before the baby comes, but Emily says that the priest told her they could be married in the church's rectory. Hearing about the proposed wedding, Nick refuses, saying he would have to go to confession before the sacrament. That night, he tells Emily he does not want to be pushed by his father and that he used to love the church until his father punished him if he stayed away. Emily points out that he never made an intellectual choice to leave the church, but that he left to rebel against his father. As an adult, if his wishes now coincide with his father's, she contends, he should be able to return. A short time later, Papa begins to work on the hole, but when he notices their fake fireplace, he begins to knock out a wall. Emily is shocked at first, then laughs and joins him. Although Nick is upset when he comes home, he helps his father build a chimney and a beautiful fireplace of stone and bricks that Papa dedicates to his grandchild. The night after the church wedding takes place, Emily goes into labor. At the hospital, Nick goes to see her while she is in pain, and she tells him to get out. He then goes to the chapel and prays on his knees. The next day, Papa finds him there asleep and leads him upstairs. He brings a telegram saying that The Saturday Evening Post has bought the story about Uncle Mingo and the bandits for $5,000, and he and Nick hug. Nick is then called to the baby viewing room, and he and Papa, as they look at his son, notice that he has red hair and big feet, just like Uncle Mingo. When Papa says he will build a little fireplace for the baby, Nick tells his father that he should go back to Mama, who needs him, as he and Emily now have enough money to fix the hole. When Nick goes to see Emily, she is happily putting on lipstick. They return home, where they find that the termite repair service truck has arrived.
Joe De Santis
L. K. Smith
Betsy Jones Moreland
Charles Lawton Jr.
Full of Life
Driven more by its characters than its plot, Full of Life is probably most notable for being the work of writer John Fante, who adapted his own novel for the screenplay. Fante is best known today for his Depression-era novel Ask the Dust, which was made into a movie by writer-director Robert Towne in 2006 and is one of four Fante novels to center around the fictional character of Arturo Bandini, a struggling writer. While that character does not figure into Full of Life, Conte does play a writer who bears many resemblances to Bandini.
Full of Life was Metropolitan Opera star Salvatore Baccaloni's American film debut. "Amusingly corpulent and mannered," The New York Times said of him. "Judy Holliday, usually outstanding, is decidedly in his shadow as the wife... Conte is excellent as the husband."
Also in the cast is Esther Minciotti, the intrepid Italian-American mother specialist, who played virtually the same mother role in The Undercover Man (1949), House of Strangers (1949), Marty (1955) and The Wrong Man (1956).
Fante's script, with its frank depiction of pregnancy, ran into some trouble with the Production Code Administration. "It plunges into the details of pregnancy with very little discretion and little exercise of good taste," was the verdict. The offending scenes were somewhat toned down but Full of Life remains frank for its time, and for his efforts Fante received a Writers Guild nomination for Best Written American Comedy.
Producer: Fred Kohlmar
Director: Richard Quine
Screenplay: John Fante
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Film Editing: Charles Nelson
Art Direction: William Flannery
Music: George Duning
Cast: Judy Holliday (Emily Rocco), Richard Conte (Nick Rocco), Salvatore Baccaloni (Papa Vittorio Rocco), Esther Minciotti (Mama Pauletta Rocco), Joe De Santis (Father Gondolfo), Silvio Minciotti (Joe Muto).
by Jeremy Arnold
Full of Life
The working titles of the film were The Lady Is Waiting and The Family Way. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the novel by John Fante was originally to be called The White Balloon and was to be published by Viking and serialized in Women's Home Companion. In September 1950, Warner Bros. submitted a summary of the novel to the PCA, due to the interest of several of their producers. PCA officials responded that many aspects of the story would not be acceptable if put into a screenplay: "The problems lie in the many offensive anatomical details of pregnancy. In this respect the writer goes stark crazy.... One of the seizures which afflicts the wife is that she gets a burst of religion, out of fear of the oncoming childbirth. The process of being smitten by religion is handled in a smart-aleck, thoroughly repulsive manner, identifying the girl's panicky religiosity with the other queer things she is likely to do." [In the released film, "Emily" does not convert to Catholicism.] The PCA also objected that the "seemingly innocuous title becomes unbelievably vulgar in its connection with the story. It refers to the huge stomach which the girl has in the latter stages of pregnancy, which the husband flippantly calls, 'her white balloon.'"
In June 1951, after Warner Bros. had decided against producing the film, the King Brothers submitted their version of the story to the PCA. The PCA demanded a number of omissions, including discussions about anatomical details of pregnancy and childbirth, fertility, syphilis and birth control. According to a PCA memo, Fante, working with the King Brothers, accepted the PCA's suggestions. Concerning "Emily's" conversion, the PCA warned again against treating it as a peculiarity. At the time, Fante stated that the new title would probably be Full of Life. Hollywood Reporter reported in July 1951 that the property had been purchased by the Stanley Kramer Co. for a Columbia release. In December 1951, according to Daily Variety, Kramer assigned it to Edward and Edna Anhalt to produce and Edward Dmytryk to direct. By October 1952, the film was scheduled to go into production soon, according to PCA material; however, in November 1952, the PCA judged the screenplay to be unacceptable, as it "plunges into the details of pregnancy with very little discretion and little exercise of good taste." Although the company agreed to a rewrite, production plans were halted until 1956, when Columbia decided to go ahead with the production. When Full of Life finally was released, it was one of the first in which a character who was pregnant appeared as if she actually was pregnant.
Fante, who was an Italian-American, wrote four novels featuring the character Arturo Bandino, a young man from Colorado who dreamed of being a writer. Although Full of Life did not feature the same main character, many critics pointed out the similarities between "Arturo" and the main character in Full of Life.
Full of Life marked the American motion picture debut of Italian-born Metropolitan Opera basso Salvatore Baccaloni. Hollywood Reporter praised him and the other Italian actors, stating, "The Italian-Americans in the picture are played by people who know to the smallest gesture how these people act and react." Reviewers were generally positive about the manner in which the film dealt with its adult subject matter, although the Los Angeles Times reviewer complained, "The film is handicapped by such a clinical treatment of the expectant motherhood situation as to verge at times on bad taste."
According to a December 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, Decca Records released a recording of the theme music to coincide with the film's Christmas Day opening. Portions of the film were shot on location in Santa Monica, including St. Monica's Catholic Church.
Released in United States Spring March 1957
Released in United States Spring March 1957