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 andTitanus. 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.   
Contents[edit | edit source]
Plot[edit | edit source]
A young Catholic priest (Bogarde) with sympathies for the poor in the Spanish Civil War finds himself in the midst of fellow priests with little concern for the poor who support the Nationalist rebels. He 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.
Liking him, she discovers his 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, he 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 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. While 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.
Torture is interrupted by the arrival of the commanding general, an old duffer taken out of retirement, who disapproves and 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.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Ava Gardner - Soledad
- Dirk Bogarde - Arturo Carrera
- Joseph Cotten - Hawthorne
- Vittorio De Sica - General Clave
- Aldo Fabrizi - Canon Rota
- Arnoldo Foà - Insurgent major
- Nino Castelnuovo
- Finlay Currie - Bishop
Box Office[edit | edit source]
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.