Winterset (film)

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Winterset (film).jpg
DVD cover
Directed byAlfred Santell
Screenplay byAnthony Veiller
Based onWinterset
by Maxwell Anderson
Produced byPandro S. Berman
StarringBurgess Meredith
Eduardo Ciannelli
John Carradine
Edward Ellis
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byWilliam Hamilton
Music byNathaniel Shilkret (uncredited)
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • November 20, 1936 (1936-11-20)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$682,000[2]

Winterset is a 1936 American crime film directed by Alfred Santell, based on the 1935 play of the same name by Maxwell Anderson, in a loose dramatization of the Sacco and Vanzetti trial and execution in 1928. The script retains elements of the blank verse poetic meter on which Anderson based his 1935 Winterset Broadway theater production.[3]

Actor Burgess Meredith made his credited film debut as the avenging son Rio Romagna.[4]

The film greatly changes the ending of the play, in which the lovers Mio and Miriamne are shot to death by gangsters. In the film, the two are cornered, but Mio deliberately causes a commotion by loudly playing a nearby abandoned hurdy-gurdy and deliberately causing himself and Miriamne to be arrested, thus placing them out of reach from the gangsters. The film made a loss of $2,000.[2]



Writing for The Spectator in 1937, Graham Greene gave the film a good review, noting that "this play (in the original it was in blank verse) has [...] solid merits". Despite its genre, Greene commented that "there are situations [...] which have more intensity than mere 'thriller' stuff". He praised the "evil magnificence" of Ciannelli's acting as Trock, pointing out that "here, as in all good plays, it is in the acts themselves, as much as in the dialogue, that the poetic idea is expressed."[5]


The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Art Direction by Perry Ferguson and the other for Original Score by Nathaniel Shilkret.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Winterset: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  3. ^ Ross, 2004: “...blank verse gangster story (loosely based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case)...liberated from much of the poetic dialogue by screenwriter Anthony Veillier...”
  4. ^ Ross, 2004: "Meridith would never become the [box office success the critics] predicted in reviews of Winterset."
  5. ^ Greene, Graham (April 9, 1937). "Winterset". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. Oxford University Press. pp. 141–143. ISBN 0192812866.)
  6. ^ "The 9th Academy Awards (1937) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "NY Times: Winterset". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2012. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2008.


  • Ross, Donna. Winterset, 1936. UCLA Film and Television Archive: 12th Festival of Preservation, July 22-August 21, 2004. Festival guest handbook.

External links[edit]

Media related to Winterset at Wikimedia Commons