For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
Director: Sam Wood.
Starring: Gary Cooper (Robert Jordan), Ingrid Bergman (María), Akim Tamiroff (Pablo), Arturo de Córdova (Agustín, violent), Vladimir Sokoloff (Anselmo, guide), Mikhail Rasumny (Rafael, Gypsy), Fortunio Bonanova (Fernando, calm), Eric Feldary (Andrés, courier to Gen. Golz), Victor Varconi (Primitivo, lookout), Katina Paxinou (Pilar), Joseph Calleia (El Sordo), Lilo Yarson (Joaquin), Alexander Granach (Paco), Adia Kuznetzoff (Gustavo), Leonid Snegoff (Ignacio).
Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway.
A Montana schoolteacher heads to Spain to fight for the Loyalists forces and against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. He falls in loves with a Spanish refugee.
This film does not deal with a great deal of history. You know its a civil war in Spain with the Republicans trying to win over the fascist forces of Franco, Hitler and Mussolini. You know which group is which in terms of their allegiance. And we know an American has come to Spain to fight fascism and support the idea of the Republic. Other than that, you don't learn anything else. There are many much more informative films on the Spanish Civil War.
Nevertheless, the film is a good one to watch. It's hero is an American fighting with the Republicans against the fascists. The American is given the task of blowing up a critical bridge in the mountains to stop the movement of fascist men and equipment. In the mountains he has to work with a lot of very suspicious and provincial locals. The supposed leader is the worst of the locals. He is always causing problems for the American and for his fellow Spaniards. The group grows to hate this fellow and the men even try to kill him. A tough but fair woman named Pilar grows in stature as Pablo falls in stature. She is soon taking over the leadership from the unreliable Pablo. Pablo is very petty and tries to get revenge and damn the cause he is supposed to be fighting for. The only good thing for the American, named Roberto, is Pilar and then a young, beautiful Spanish refugee named Maria. A love relationship develops between Roberto and Maria.
There's a lot of suspense in the film and toward the end a lot of action. It leaves you wondering what is going to happen. Is the whole band of local Republicans going to be killed? Will the love birds survive or will Roberto or Maria die in action? That keeps the viewer hooked on the movie. Gary Cooper is good in the film and so is Ingrid Bergman, who sure looks young in the film. Akim Tamiroff is good and disgusting as Pablo. Katina Paxinou is good as Pilar.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997).
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