July 14 in US cinemas: For Whom The Bell Tolls, Son Of Paleface, The Wrath Of God, and The Swarm

Click on a poster…


“All the power and passion of Hemingway’s immortal lovers who clung together in the darkness before a thunderous dawn.”

1943: For Whom the Bell Tolls is an American war film produced and directed by Sam Wood and starring Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia. The screenwriter Dudley Nichols based his script on the 1940 novel For Whom the Bell Tolls by American novelist Ernest Hemingway. The film is about an American International Brigades volunteer, Robert Jordan (Cooper), who is fighting in the Spanish Civil War against the fascists. During his desperate mission to blow up a strategically important bridge to protect Republican forces, Jordan falls in love with a young woman guerrilla fighter (Bergman).

For Whom the Bell Tolls was Ingrid Bergman’s first Technicolor film. Hemingway handpicked Cooper and Bergman for their roles. The film became the top box-office hit of 1943, earning $7.1 million. It was also nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning one. Victor Young’s film soundtrack for the film was the first complete score from an American film to be issued on record. [Wikipedia]


1952: Son of Paleface is a Western comedy film from Paramount Pictures directed by Frank Tashlin and starring Bob Hope, Jane Russell, and Roy Rogers. The film is a sequel to The Paleface (1948). Written by Tashlin, Joseph Quillan, and Robert L. Welch, the film is about a man who returns home to claim his father’s gold, which is nowhere to be found.

Peter “Junior” Potter (Hope) has graduated from Harvard and now heads west to the town of Sawbuck Pass to claim his Daddy’s fortune. Driving into town in a jalopy and wearing a comical plaid suit, he splashes mud all over a crowd of townspeople. He also discovers to his horror that practically everyone in town claims to be owed a debt, and that his father’s treasure chest is empty.

Junior stalls the townsfolk for as long as he can, continually making allusions to his wealth. He makes the acquaintance of a singing cowboy named Roy (Rogers) and a sexy saloon performer with the masculine name of Mike (Russell), who has to fend off Junior’s persistent advances. A grizzled local character also befriends Junior and continues offering him advice, eventually finding the hiding place of his father’s hidden fortune. Meanwhile, a mysterious masked bandit known only as “The Torch” has been leading midnight raids.

What the wise-cracking, clueless Junior doesn’t know is that the object of his affections, Mike, is in fact The Torch, and that Roy is a government agent with a Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle hidden in his guitar case, bent on capturing her. [Wikipedia]


“Introducing ‘FATHER’ VAN HORNE.  He’s not exactly what the Lord had in mind.”

1972: The Wrath of God is an offbeat Western genre film filmed in Mexico. It starred Robert Mitchum, Frank Langella, Rita Hayworth and Victor Buono and was directed by Ralph Nelson. It is based on the novel by Jack Higgins writing as James Graham.

Van Horne (played by Mitchum), a bank robber dressed like a Roman Catholic priest, is spared from a firing squad in 1922 in an unnamed Central America nation and sent to kill a local desperado (Langella).

Scottish actor Ken Hutchison, who played Van Horne’s sidekick, Emmet Keogh, had a near catastrophic accident near the end of filming in which he cut himself on some broken glass, opening a gash from wrist to elbow. He was discovered by Mitchum’s wife Dorothy, who applied a life saving tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Since Hutchison was in nearly every scene, the insurance company covering the production shut it down for a month for him to heal. When he returned, he was unable to do anything strenuous, and had to keep the arm covered. With the long layoff, the cast and crew just wanted to get the film done, resulting in confusion, continuity gaps and dislocation. [Wikipedia]


“It is more than speculation… it is a prediction!”

1978: The Swarm is an American disaster-horror film about a killer bee invasion of Texas. It was adapted from a novel of the same name by Arthur Herzog.

The director was Irwin Allen, and the cast included Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Jose Ferrer, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Bradford Dillman, Fred MacMurray (in his final film appearance), and Henry Fonda. It received negative reviews and was a box-office failure, and many consider it to be one of the worst films ever made. It did receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design (Paul Zastupnevich). [Wikipedia]

Killer bees from South America have been breeding with the gentler bees of more northern climes, slowly extending their territory northward decade after decade. Entomologist Brad Crane (Caine) has discovered that something is making them come together in huge, killer swarms. He wants to keep General Slater (Widmark) from using military tactics that might further upset the balance of nature as they join to try to stop the swarms from approaching Houston. [IMDb]

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