Never Take No for an Answer

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Never Take No for an Answer
Directed by Maurice Cloche
Ralph Smart
Produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan
Written by Maurice Cloche
Paul Gallico
Pauline Gallico
Based on "The Small Miracle" by Paul Gallico
Music by Nino Rota
Distributed by British Lion Films
Release date
  • 1951 (1951)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £136,628 (UK)[1]

Never Take No for an Answer is a 1951 British film based on Paul Gallico's 1951 story "The Small Miracle", about an Italian orphan boy who goes to visit the Pope.[2]


Nine years old war orphan Peppino Arrigo lives in the Italian town of Assisi with his donkey, Violetta. The two are devoted to each other and make a living transporting goods for the locals. One night, Violetta falls seriously ill and Peppino runs for the vet, who, on examining her, tells Peppino that he can do nothing to save her and that she may live for only another week or two. Very worried, Peppino takes Violetta to the church of St Francis, hoping that the priests will let him take her down into the crypt to be blessed and cured at the shrine of St Francis, but the priests will not allow it. Only the Holy Father himself could give such permission. So Peppino decides to take the matter to the very top and, leaving Violetta in the loving care of a friend, he sets off alone on an eighty-mile journey to see the Pope in Rome and get that permission. But, when he finally reaches Rome, he finds to his dismay that getting inside the Vatican to see the Pope will be no mean feat. However, Peppino will not take no for an answer...



The screen play is by Paul and Pauline Gallico, adapted from Mr. Gallico's 1951 story. Produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan's Constellation Films, it was directed by Maurice Cloche and Ralph Smart, who both also received screenwriter credit. Assisting with production was Prince Alessandro Tasca di Cutò, a Sicilian aristocrat who was cousin of Giovanni di Lampedusa, author of The Leopard.[4] Nino Rota composed the musical score. Never Take No For an Answer was released 18 December 1951 in the UK and in the U.S. the following April. In Italy it is known as Peppino e Violetta.


The film was made by the British entirely in Italy, where special permission was granted for filming to take place inside the Vatican itself. Bosley Crowther, in The New York Times, observed that the film is "particularly adroit in the way in which it works in a stunning panorama of religious buildings in Assisi and Rome".[2] The unusual and beautiful backgrounds of Assisi and Rome were also noted by John Fitzgerald of the BBC film program Current Release.[5] The film was BAFTA nominated for Best British Film of 1951.

A remake was produced in 1974 for the Hallmark Hall of Fame television series.

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