The Pride and the Passion
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|The Pride and the Passion|
|Directed by||Stanley Kramer|
|Produced by||Stanley Kramer|
novel The Gun by|
|Music by||George Antheil|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$5.5 million (US rentals)|
The Pride and the Passion is a 1957 Napoleonic era war film in Technicolor and VistaVision from United Artists, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, that stars Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren. The film co-stars Theodore Bikel and Jay Novello.
The film's storyline concerns a British Royal Navy artillery officer (Grant) who has orders to retrieve a huge siege cannon from Spain and transport it by ship to British forces. But first, the leader of the Spanish guerrillas (Sinatra) wants to transport the weapon 1,000 km across Spain to help in the recapture of the city of Ávila from the occupying French before he releases it to the British. Most of the film deals with the hardships of transporting the big gun to Ávila across rivers and through mountains, while also evading the occupying French forces that have been ordered to find it. A subplot concerns the struggle for the love of the Spanish woman Juana (Loren) by the two male protagonists.
The screen story and screenplay by Edna Anhalt and Edward Anhalt was loosely based on the 1933 novel The Gun by C. S. Forester. Earl Felton did an uncredited screenplay re-write, George Antheil composed the music score, while Saul Bass designed the opening title sequence.
The film's music score was the last important work by George Antheil, once famous as the "bad boy of music" in the 1920s. It is the only one of Antheil's many film scores to have been preserved on a commercial soundtrack recording.
During the Peninsular War, Napoleon's armies overrun Spain. An enormous siege cannon, belonging to the Spanish army, is abandoned when it slows down the army's retreat. French cavalrymen are dispatched to find it.
Britain, Spain's ally, sends Royal Navy artillery officer, Captain Anthony Trumbull (Grant) to find the huge cannon and see that it is handed over to British forces before it can be retrieved by the French. However, when Trumbull arrives at the Spanish headquarters, he finds that it has been evacuated and is now occupied by a guerrilla band led by the French-hating Miguel (Sinatra). Miguel shows Trumbull the abandoned cannon's location down a steep ravine. He says he will only help move the huge gun if it is first used against the fortified walls of Ávila, which Miguel is obsessed with capturing. During their association, the two men grow to dislike one another. One cause of their enmity is Miguel's woman Juana (Loren), who has fallen in love with Trumbull.
Meanwhile, sadistic General Jouvet (Bikel), the French commander in Ávila, orders the execution of all Spaniards who do not surrender information of the cannon's whereabouts. The cannon has, in fact, undergone an arduous journey in the direction of Ávila.
The guerrilla band, whose ranks have swelled considerably, almost lose the cannon when General Jouvet deploys artillery near a mountain pass that they must use to get to Ávila. With help from the local populace, the band gets the cannon through, despite heavy losses, although it rolls down a long hillside and is damaged, becoming partially dismounted from its carriage.
The cannon is moved and hidden in a cathedral while it is repaired. Afterwards it is disguised as an ornamental processional platform during a Catholic religious celebration to move it past the occupying French. French officers, however, are informed about the cannon's cathedral location, but by the time they arrive, it has been repaired and moved, leaving no trace that it was ever there.
When the cannon finally arrives at the guerrillas' camp on the plains outside Ávila, Trumbull and Miguel prepare to attack the city. However, Ávila is defended by strong walls, eighty cannon and a garrison of French troops. Trumbull explains to the assembled guerilla force that half their number will be killed by various types of French artillery shot and grouped rifle fire during the assault wave. Later, he tries to convince Juana not to participate in the battle, but, the next day, she goes with the men.
Trumbell repeatedly fires the huge cannon, its 96-pound solid shot, weighing 9000 pounds upon impact, slowly demolishes Ávila's southern wall. Despite suffering heavy losses, including both Miguel and Juana, the guerrillas charge through the city's breached wall and overwhelm the French forces. General Jouvet is killed, and the last French troops are overrun in the town square. After the battle, Trumbull places Miguel's body at the foot of the statue of Ávila's patron saint. Having secured the heavy cannon for its long trip to England, he leaves with troubling memories of his adventures across Spain.
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The film was shot on location in Spain amid persistent rumors that Frank Sinatra only took a part in the film to be near his wife Ava Gardner. During this time, the couple were having marital problems. She was to be away from Sinatra for her role in The Sun Also Rises (1957), which was shooting in various locales around Europe, including Spain. When there was to be no reconciliation, Sinatra hurriedly left the production, asking director Stanley Kramer to condense all of his scenes into as brief as possible shooting schedule; Kramer obliged. Conversely, Cary Grant was happy to be away from his troubled marriage to Betsy Drake so he could pursue a serious romantic relationship with co-star Sophia Loren. The romance was over by the end of the production at which point Loren agreed to marry Carlo Ponti.
On 14 March 2011, BBC Radio 4's Afternoon Play broadcast The Gun Goes to Hollywood by Mike Walker, imagining the behind-the-scenes of the Kramer production, including Sinatra's leaving the production early and Grant falling in love with and pursuing co-star Loren. This was staged from the viewpoint of script doctor Earl Felton, who had been drafted to save the day. The play was directed by Kate McAll, and the cast included Steven Weber as Earl Felton, Greg Itzin as Cary Grant, Kate Steele as Sophia Loren, Jonathan Silverman as Frank Sinatra, and Jonathan Getz as Stanley Kramer.
Box office and critical reception
Opening to mixed reviews on July 10, 1957, The Pride and The Passion was successful, spurred by the popularity of the leading actors. With box office rentals of $4.7 million from a gross of $8.75 million, it was one of the 20 highest-grossing films of 1957. The film's high production cost, however, proved to be the key factor in the film losing $2.5 million.
Variety praised the film's production values, saying "Top credit must go to the production. The panoramic, long-range views of the marching and terribly burdened army, the painful fight to keep the gun mobile through ravine and over waterway - these are major pluses". Author Ephraim Katz, on the other hand, described it as "overblown empty epic nonsense".
Comic book adaption
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 101
- "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- Jaynes, Barbara Grant & Trachtenberg, Robert (2004). Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Turner Entertainment.
- Ephraim Katz The Macmillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1998, (third edition) London: Macmillan, p767. The Film Encyclopedia is this work's American title.
- "Dell Four Color #824". Grand Comics Database.
- Dell Four Color #824 at the Comic Book DB