The Angel Wore Red

The Angel Wore Red, also known as La Sposa Bella in itsItalian version, is a 1960 Italian-American romantic and war film starring Ava Gardner and Dirk Bogarde made by MGM and Titanus. 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.

The Angel Wore Red
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNunnally Johnson
Produced byGoffredo Lombardo
Written byNunnally Johnson
Bruce Marshall (novel)
StarringAva Gardner
Dirk Bogarde
Joseph Cotten
Vittorio De Sica
Aldo Fabrizi
Enrico Maria Salerno
Music byBronislau Kaper
Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
CinematographyGiuseppe Rotunno
Edited byLouis R. Loeffler
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
September 28, 1960
Running time
Italy: 95 min
USA: 99 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$935,000[1]

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.[2][3][4][5]


Young Catholic priest Arturo Carrera (Bogarde) sympathizes with the poor in the Spanish Civil War, but finds that his fellow priests have little concern for the poor, because they support the Nationalist rebels. He then resigns from the priesthood. Hours later, the city is bombarded and he takes shelter with a mysterious beautiful woman named Soledad (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 giving his deputy the task of taking it to Franco's Nationalists. Both the deputy and Arturo become hunted men. Arturo seeks shelter in a local cabaret, where he again meets the mystery woman, who turns out to be a prostitute.

Soledad discovers that Arturo was a priest, but because she likes him, she tries unsuccessfully to hide him from the militiamen. Hawthorne, a habitué of the bar and a New York war correspondent (Joseph Cotten) with a platonic relationship with her, does his best to free Arturo. Arturo 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, Arturo meets Soledad and the priest who has hidden the holy relic. The absence of the relic is causing unrest in the town and unsettling the local Loyalist militia, now suffering massive desertions because of the 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, Soledad leads Loyalist security men to his hideout.

Despite torture, the old priest refuses to give up the relic's location, and is to be shot at dawn. The security chief then has Arturo hear the condemned priest's confession. Learning of the relic's whereabouts, Arturo takes it, but claims not to know where it is. But he is then arrested and taken to see the torturing of Soledad, for whom he has declared his love.

Soledad is spared by the arrival of the commanding general, an old man who disapproves of torture and dirty tricks. He orders all 250 prisoners to be marched out to the battle lines. There they will be given arms to slow the Nationalist advance on the city and cover the Loyalists' retreat. On the march, Arturo gives Soledad the relic so she can try to take it to safety. However, in a surprise nighttime rebel attack, she is seriously wounded. The prisoners change hands, but the Nationalist commander decides he cannot trust them or leave them behind; he orders that they be executed. Arturo pleads with the officer assigned the task, but the man does not believe Arturo's story. Before more than a few unfortunates have been shot, however, Soledad and the relic are found. She dies, but the prisoners are set free.


Box office

According to MGM records, the film earned $410,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $525,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $1,527,000 – one of MGM's bigger flops of the year.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "The Angel Wore Red (1960)". Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  3. Arnold, Jeremy. "The Angel Wore Red". Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  4. ARCHER, EUGENE. "The Angel Wore Red (1960)". Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  5. "The Angel Wore Red". Retrieved 30 November 2013.
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