Cast & Crew
J. Carroll Naish
Just after World War II, American Steve Pitt arrives at an Italian village looking for Father Paolo, but instead finds a new priest, who tells him that Paolo was executed by the Germans. The priest knows who Steve is by letters he had written to Paolo talking about a woman named Nina, and asks Steve to tell him about the war. Steve relates what happened in 1944, when Italy was still occupied by the Germans: As a fighter pilot and squadron leader in Corsica, Steve completes his 200th mission and is about to be shipped home. When his replacement and good friend, Captain George Peterson, does not return from a mission needed for the impending invasion of Italy, Steve decides to take his place the next day. The squad cannot identify their strategic target, a tunnel that houses a German munitions supply, and Steve is forced to parachute out of his plane after it is hit. Although the German ground soldiers see Steve's descent, he eludes them and seeks help from a local farmer. The farmer's wife fears the Germans and turns him away, but Steve is soon approached by Nina, a young woman who is part of an Italian guerrilla force. Nina leads Steve to a mountain cabin where he meets Bruno, leader of the small band. Although he is a patriot, Bruno fears that Steve's presence will bring severe retaliations against the villagers, including his mother, and tells Steve that he will have to stay put before finding his way back to Corsica. A few days later, Steve sees a formation of American planes fly overhead and realizes that the target still eludes them. He and Nina, who are attracted to each other, kiss, even though Steve has told her that he has a girl at home. Later, Steve tells Bruno that he is planning to leave that night. Although Aldo, an embittered member of the band who is in love with Nina, lashes out at Steve, Bruno defends him and agrees to help. In the afternoon, the men go down from the hills, stop a German Panzer with a grenade and steal its weapons. A few minutes later, a truck full of German soldiers arrives, but the Italians manage to escape. Back at the cabin, Steve tells the men about the tunnel, but Bruno and the others are afraid that if they help, German retaliation will be too severe. Nina lashes out at the men for being too afraid to take chances, then leaves the cabin. Steve follows her and kisses her, promising that he will be with her even after the war, but telling her that she cannot come with him now. She agrees, but asks him to wait until morning when Father Paolo, who is a fearless patriot, can help him. The next day, Nina takes Steve to see Fr. Paolo, who has been hiding George in the church since he was shot down. Paolo then reveals that Bruno's mother died when she fell from a truck, trying to escape from the Germans. Just then, two German soldiers barge in, with guns drawn. Nina distracts the soldiers by screaming, and in the melee, the Germans are killed. George, Nina and Steve then return to the cabin. On the way, they see a German roadblock and Nina distracts the soldiers long enough for George and Steve to capture them. That night, at the cabin, Nina tells Bruno what happened to his mother and he decides to help Steve blow up the tunnel. During the planning, they observe that Aldo is gone, and when he returns carrying a goat, Nina is suspicious because Aldo hates goats. Later, the men notice an unusually large number of German patrols. At the same time, two of the men, Mario and Ettore, are captured by the Germans while getting supplies. Although Ettore is killed, Mario escapes. Meanwhile, at the cabin, Bruno begins to suspect that there is a spy in the group. Just then Mario comes back and tells them what happened. Convinced that someone is a traitor, Bruno suggests a secret vote to determine who it is. Steve does not like this, and refuses to vote, but everyone else, except Aldo, names Aldo. Bruno is about to beat the truth out of Aldo when German soldiers approach the cabin in force. Bruno and the others tie Aldo to a chair and shoot their way out, leaving Aldo to be killed by the Germans. Next morning, Steve, George and the others move into place to blow up the tunnel, while American planes fly overhead. After Steve lights a flare he has kept in his pocket, some of the planes investigate, identify the semi-obscured target and start to bomb it. While the Italians take out some of the German artillery crews, Bruno is killed, but the rest manage to direct one of the large guns to explode the ammunition, thus destroying the tunnel. A short time later, on the coast, Paolo and other patriots help Steve and George escape in a small boat. After kissing Nina goodbye, Steve promises to come back, but Paolo warns her that soldiers are known for short memories. As Steve ends his story, the priest answers his door and a small boy steps aside to reveal Nina. She and Steve then embrace and kiss as the priest and the boy look on.
J. Carroll Naish
William A. Calihan Jr.
Lester A. Sansom
Allen K. Wood
Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)
Born in Oakland, California on March 23, 1917, Tobey originally intended to be a lawyer before a stint with the University of California Little Theater changed his mind. From there, he went straight to New York and spent nearly two years studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and Tony Randall. Throughout the '40s, Tobey acted on Broadway and in stock before relocating to Hollywood. Once there, Tobey soon found himself playing a tough soldier in films like I Was a Male War Bride and Twelve O' Clock High (both 1949); or a tough police officer in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and Three Secrets (both 1950). Such roles were hardly surprising, given Tobey's craggy features, unsmiling countenance and rough voice.
Needless to say, no-nonsense, authority figures would be Tobey's calling for the remainder of his career; yet given the right role, he had the talent to make it memorable: the smart, likeable Captain Hendrey in The Thing From Another World (1951); the gallant Colonel Jack Evans in the "prehistoric dinosaur attacks an urban center" genre chiller The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, a must-see film for fans of special effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen; and as Bat Masterson, holding his own against Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
Television would also offer Tobey much work: he had his own action series as chopper pilot Chuck Martin in Whirlybirds (1957-59); and had a recurring role as Assistant District Attorney Alvin in Perry Mason (1957-66). He would also be kept busy with guest appearances in countless westerns (Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian) and cop shows (The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Ironside) for the next two decades. Most amusingly, the tail end of Tobey's career saw some self-deprecating cameo spots in such contemporary shockers as The Howling (1981); Strange Invaders (1983) and his role reprisal of Captain Hendry in The Attack of the B-Movie Monsters (2002). Tobey is survived by a daughter, two stepchildren, and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)
Although the onscreen credits list the character name of the priest as "Father Paola," in the film he is called "Father Paolo." The opening credits include the following written acknowledgment: "We desire to express grateful appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Air Force for the cooperation which was extended in the production of this picture." A Hollywood Reporter production chart includes Dave Willock in the film, but he was not in the viewed print.