The Angel Wore Red

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The Angel Wore Red
Angel Red.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Nunnally Johnson
Produced by Goffredo Lombardo
Written by Nunnally Johnson
Bruce Marshall (novel)
Starring Ava Gardner
Dirk Bogarde
Joseph Cotten
Vittorio De Sica
Aldo Fabrizi
Enrico Maria Salerno
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
September 28, 1960
Running time
Italy: 95 min
USA: 99 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,843,000[1]
Box office $935,000[1]

The Angel Wore Red, also known as La Sposa Bella in its Italian version, is a 1960 Italian-American romantic war drama starring Ava Gardner and Dirk Bogarde made by MGM and Titanus. It was directed by Nunnally Johnson and produced by Goffredo Lombardo, from a screenplay by Johnson based on the 1953 novel The Fair Bride by Bruce Marshall.

Giorgio Prosperi wrote the dialogue for the Italian version. The music score for the American version was by Bronislau Kaper and by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino for the Italian version. The cinematography was by Giuseppe Rotunno.[2] [3] [4] [5]


A young Catholic priest (Bogarde) with sympathies for the poor in the Spanish Civil War finds that his fellow priests have little concern for the poor, because the poor support the Nationalist rebels. He then resigns from the priesthood. Hours later, the city is bombarded and he takes shelter with a mysterious beautiful woman (Gardner).

They part. As night falls, Loyalist speakers induce a mob to torch the church, whose ranking cleric moves to hide the Blood of St John relic by having his deputy secret it to Franco's Nationalists. The visiting priest, whose name survives on the church roster, is then a hunted man. He seeks shelter in a local cabaret, where he again meets the mystery woman, who turns out to be a prostitute.

Because she likes him, the prostitute discovers the former priest's identity when the militiamen enter demanding papers, and makes an unsuccessful bid to escape. An habitué of the bar, a New York war correspondent (Joseph Cotten), with a platonic relationship with the woman, does his best to spring the young ex-priest before Loyalist firing squads get him. The ex-priest tells the Loyalist intelligence chief he can make himself useful by comforting Catholic Loyalists who are wavering because of the treatment of the church.

Out of jail, but under surveillance, the ex-priest meets the woman and the priest who has hidden the holy relic, the absence of which is causing unrest in the town and unsettling the local Loyalist militia, now suffering massive desertions because of the missing relic, which is fabled to provide victory to those who possess it. This makes it essential for the local Loyalists to secure it. But because of a well-meaning, disastrous attempt to feed the old priest in hiding, the woman leads the Loyalist security men to his hideout.

Under torture, the old priest refuses to give up the relic and is to be shot at dawn. The security chief then connives to have the ex-priest hear the condemned priest's confession. Even though he learns of the relic's whereabouts, he claims not to have been told. But he is then arrested and taken to see the torturing of his woman, for whom he has declared his love.

The torture is interrupted by the arrival of the commanding general, an old duffer taken out of retirement, who disapproves of the torture and dirty tricks. But as the Nationalist rebels close in on the city, he orders all 250 prisoners to be marched out towards the front to occupy indefensible Loyalist trenches to slow the Nationalist advance on the city to cover the Loyalist retreat. This is done, but the veneration of the relic by the Nationalist side saves most of the people about to die in hopeless battle with their allies or in front of their firing squads.


Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $410,000 in the US and Canada and $525,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $1,527,000 - one of MGM's biggest flops of the year.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ "The Angel Wore Red (1960)". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  3. ^ Arnold, Jeremy. "The Angel Wore Red". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  4. ^ ARCHER, EUGENE. "The Angel Wore Red (1960)". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Angel Wore Red". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 

External links[edit]