powered by AFI
The film's title card reads "John Hersey's A Bell for Adano." In onscreen credits, Eduardo Ciannelli's name as misspelled as "Edwardo." According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, Fox paid Hersey $85,000 for the motion pictures rights to his novel. The studio also guaranteed a bonus of twenty cents per copy sold, with the total bonus not to exceed $15,000. Under the agreement, Hersey was given ninety days to obtain approval from the War Department to incorporate into the film the plot, theme episodes and characters contained in his novel. Hersey failed to meet his deadline, however, and the studio then obtained its own clearances. According to a July 1944 New York Times news item, the War Department was concerned that the film would adhere to the novel's unflattering portrayal of "General McKay," in which the officer's dictatorial behavior caused the villager's woes. The War Department was relieved when "the inconveniences suffered by the townspeople in the film were presented as the natural consequences of war, and not the result of any one person."
Materials in the legal records disclose that the character of "Major Joppolo" was based on Lt. Col. Frank E. Toscani, who served as the senior civil affairs officer of the American military government in Licata, Italy. In February 1946, Toscani sued Fox, Hersey and Hersey's publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, theatrical producer Leland Hayward and playwright Paul Osborn (who produced and wrote a Broadway play based on Hersey's novel), for $225,000, charging that he had been "damaged by being portrayed as Major Joppolo." Toscani claimed that the novel "recklessly, maliciously and falsely states certain defamatory matters. In particular, Toscani, a married man, objected to Joppolo's love affair and to the fact that the officer was shown countermanding an order from a superior. In November 1946, an appellate course dismissed the suit on the grounds that the law was not "intended to give a living person cause...for damages based on the mere portrayal of acts and events concerning a person designated fictiously in a novel or play."
Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about the production: Dana Andrews, Gary Cooper and James Cagney were all considered for the role of Joppolo. A July 1944 New York Times news item adds that Spencer Tracy was also considered for the role. John Hodiak was finally borrowed from M-G-M to star as the major. According to a June 1947 article in Saturday Evening Post, Joppolo was Hodiak's favorite role. Although an October 1944 item states that Estelle Taylor was to be tested for a part, she was not in the released film. A November 3, 1944 Hollywood Reporter production chart also places Allyn Joslyn in the cast, but he did not appear in the released film. According to materials in the legal files, Eula Morgan was originally cast as "Rosa." For their outstanding work during the mob scene, Minerva Urecal, Mimi Aguglia, Elvira Curci, Nick Thompson, Antonio Filauri, Valeria Caravacci and Carmen Castellano were awarded larger roles in the film, according to a November 1944 news item. An October 1944 item adds that location filming was done at Brent's Crags, CA.
Hersey's novel was also the basis for Paul Osborn's 1945 Broadway play A Bell for Adano, starring Fredric March. On June 2, 1956, CBS broadcast a televised version of Hersey's story, starring Barry Sullivan and Anna Maria Alberghetti and directed by Paul Nickell, and on November 15, 1967, The Hallmark Hall of Fame broadcast a version starring John Forsythe and Murray Hamilton and directed by Mel Ferrer.