The Betrothed (1941 film)

The Betrothed (Italian: I Promessi Sposi) is a 1941 Italian historical drama film directed by Mario Camerini and starring Gino Cervi, Dina Sassoli and Ruggero Ruggeri. It is an adaptation of the 1827 novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. The film's producers organised a competition to select the lead actress (eventually won by Sassoli) which was modelled on the hunt for Scarlett O'Hara by the American producer David O. Selznick for Gone With the Wind.[1]

The Betrothed
Directed byMario Camerini
Produced byMario Camerini
Written byAlessandro Manzoni (novel)
Ivo Perilli
Gabriele Baldini
Mario Camerini
StarringGino Cervi
Dina Sassoli
Ruggero Ruggeri
Armando Falconi
Music byIldebrando Pizzetti
CinematographyAnchise Brizzi
Edited byMario Serandrei
Distributed byLux Film
Release date
19 December 1941
Running time
112 minutes

The novel was turned into a film again in 1964 and a television miniseries in 1989.


Part One

In a small town on Lake Como, the peasants Renzo (short for Lorenzo) and Lucia love each other, but are hampered by the squire Don Rodrigo, who himself has designs on Lucia. By intimidation, he prevents the parish priest Don Abbondio from celebrating the wedding. The good Friar Cristoforo visits Don Rodrigo, but is unable to dissuade him. Since Don Rodrigo's in love with Lucia, he subsequently tries to kidnap her, but Friar Cristoforo helps Renzo and Lucia to escape across a lake. Lucia goes to Monza, to a convent, while Renzo heads to Milan, where he becomes involved in a popular unrest (caused by lack of bread). He narrowly escapes the authorities by giving a false name, after unwittingly revealing it. Lucia is kidnapped by a rich man, a friend of Don Rodrigo, after a female nun (of noble descent) at the convent is coerced into helping.

Part Two

Lucia is brought to the castle of the Innominato (Nameless), a friend of Don Rodrigo, but he has second thoughts about his cruel action. In fact, the next day the Innominato visits Cardinal Federigo Borromeo and repents in his presence. He decides to set Lucia free, accompanied by the parish priest Don Abbondio, who is subsequently rebuked for his moral weakness. Meanwhile, a plague breaks out in Lombardy, and both Renzo and Lucia are involved in the scourge. Renzo finds Friar Cristoforo in a hospital at Milan, who preaches forgiveness, not revenge. The young man also sees Don Rodrigo, who was also hit by the plague, dying, and decides to forgive him. When Renzo finally finds and embraces Lucia, the two can at last get married (despite a vow she'd made to the contrary), because they are no longer oppressed. Friar Cristoforo is on hand to resolve the theological issues relating to the vow. As he prays, rain begins to fall.

Partial cast


  1. Forgacs & Gundle p.159-160


  • Forgacs, David & Gundle, Stephen. Mass Culture and Italian Society from Fascism to the Cold War. Indiana University Press, 2007.

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