A Medal for Benny


1h 17m 1945

Film Details

Also Known As
Benny's Medal
Release Date
Jun 29, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 May 1945
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,139ft

Synopsis

In 1942, in Pantera, a small town in California, ne'er-do-well Joe Morales buys a fishing boat with Charley Martin's money in order to make a living so that he may marry Lolita Sierra. Lolita, however, is promised to Benny Martin, Charley's thieving son, who was exiled from town after a fracas in which he bit off and swallowed the end of a policeman's gun. After the boat sinks, Charley, who has been desperate for rent money since Benny left, is threatened with eviction. Lolita has not heard from Benny in months, but remains loyal to him and refuses Joe's affections. After Lolita's little brother Chito tells Joe that Benny was always buying Lolita gifts, Joe swindles the naïve Charley out of twenty-five dollars he needs for rent. He then buys Lolita a dress for the town dance, but she refuses it when she learns how he got it. At the dance, Joe arrives with a tough-talking woman named Toodles Castro, who claims to know Benny. When Lolita sees Toodles wearing the dress bought for her as well as Lolita's father's wedding ring that she had given to Benny, she fights Toodles, and Joe leaves humiliated. Lolita suddenly realizes she loves Joe and goes to him. When Charley attempts to use his animals as collateral for a bank loan, he is ignored. Meanwhile, the news wire reports that Benny Martin of Pantera is a war hero and is about to be awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for single-handedly killing one hundred Japanese soldiers in the Philippines. Joe, who meanwhile has sold the boat back to its original owner, returns Charley's money to Lolita. The mayor arrives to tell Charlie that his son is a hero, but sadly informs him that the medal is to be awarded posthumously by the governor and an army general. The chamber of commerce uses the event as a publicity stunt and sets Charley up in a beautiful house to avoid the embarrassment of showing him in his humble home. When Charley realizes the scheme, however, he refuses to go to the rally, and the general presents the medal at Charley's home. In his speech, Charley says that Benny will live on in his and Lolita's hearts. She then tells Joe that she cannot marry him yet, because it might break Charley's heart, so Joe volunteers for the army.

Film Details

Also Known As
Benny's Medal
Release Date
Jun 29, 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 May 1945
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,139ft

Award Nominations

Best Supporting Actor

1945

Best Writing, Screenplay

1946

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Benny's Medal. A written foreword to the film states: "Pantera in the spring of 1942-a small California town which pretends for its own pride that it is a city. In the old part of town are the Paisanos-Americans of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. A simple, friendly people, they have been here for more than a hundred years, and are the original California settlers. This is a story of these people, but in particular the story of-- A Medal for Benny." The character of Benny is never seen onscreen, but is only referred to in the story. Dorothy Lamour appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of A Medal for Benny on October 15, 1945. This film was nominated for Academy Awards in the following categories: Best Supporting Actor, J. Carroll Naish; and Best Writing (Original Story), John Steinbeck and Jack Wagner. Rosita Moreno, who portrayed "Toodles Castro" in the film, should not be confused with actress Rita Moreno (b. 1931) who also acted under the name Rosita Moreno early in her career.