The Secret of Santa Vittoria is a 1969 film distributed by United Artists. It was produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and co-produced by George Glass from a screenplay by Ben Maddow and William Rose. It was based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crichton. The music score was by Ernest Gold and the cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno.
The film stars Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi, Hardy Krüger, and Sergio Franchi. It also features Renato Rascel, Giancarlo Giannini, and Eduardo Ciannelli; with Valentina Cortese making an uncredited appearance. It was almost entirely shot on location in Anticoli Corrado, Italy (near Rome).
The world premiere was held in Los Angeles, USA on October 20, 1969. Television coverage included a special split-screen selection during The Joey Bishop Show. Army Archerd, Regis Philbin and Buddy Hackett interviewed Stanley Kramer, Anthony Quinn, Virna Lisi, and Sergio Franchi from Los Angeles. The premiere was held to benefit the Reiss-Davis Child Study Center, with Gregory Peck as chairman. The event ended with a celebration at the Century Plaza Hotel.
This was selected as the opening-night film for the 13th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival. The festival ran from October 23, 1969 until November 2, 1969.
The film is set during World War II in the summer of 1943, in the aftermath of the fall of Italy's Fascist government under Benito Mussolini. The German army uses the ensuing political vacuum to occupy most of the country. The wine-making hill town of Santa Vittoria learns that the German occupation forces want to steal all of Santa Vittoria's wine and take it back to Germany. The townspeople organize under the inspiration of their major, Italo Bombolini (Anthony Quinn). They are able to hide a million bottles of wine by sealing them up in the galleries of an ancient Roman cave before the arrival of a German army detachment under the command of Sepp von Prum (Hardy Krüger).
The Germans are given thousands of bottles of wine to appease them, but von Prum comes to suspect that there are many more hidden somewhere in Santa Vittoria. The two very different men engage in a battle of wits in the days to come. Von Prum orders every building and home searched, but his men find nothing. Finally, with time running out before the Germans must obey their orders and leave, a frustrated von Prum threatens to shoot mayor Bombolini in front of the assembled townspeople unless the hidden wine's location is given up. No one speaks up. Not being a Nazi fanatic, von Prum silently accepts defeat and leaves the hill town without harming the mayor. After the Germans leave Santa Vittoria, the townspeople, led by Bombolini, celebrate their victory by dancing in the streets.
The film earned $6.5 million worldwide, which was considered a disappointment considering the popularity of the novel.
Awards and nominations
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Film Editing (William A. Lyon and Earle Herdan) and Best Music Score (Ernest Gold). It was nominated for an Eddie award by the American Cinema Editors, USA for best edited feature film.
The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Comedy; and was nominated by the Golden Globe Awards committee for Best Director (Stanley Kramer), Best Actor Comedy (Anthony Quinn), Best Actress Comedy (Anna Magnani), Best Original Score (Ernest Gold) and Best Original Song ("Stay", Ernest Gold and Norman Gimbel)
The Secret of Santa Vittoria was shown on April 30, 2015 on Turner Classic Movies as part of its "Star of the Month salute" to Anthony Quinn.