AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Three Steps North
Director: W. Lee Wilder (Dir)
Release Date:   15 Jun 1951
Production Date:   began early Jun 1950 at Cinecittà Studios, Rome
Duration (in mins):   82
Duration (in feet):   7,349
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Lloyd Bridges (Frank Keeler)  
    Lea Padovani (Elena Ravezza)  
  Co-starring Aldo Fabrizi (Pietro)  
  and introducing Murolo   his guitar and the Neapolitans
    William C. Tubbs (Jack Conway)  
    Dino Galvani (Massina)  
    Adriano Ambrogi (Baldori)  
    Gianni Rizzo (The Greek)  
    John Fostini (Vince)  
    Peggy Doro (Mrs. Day)  
    Adam Genette (Policeman Falzone)  

Summary: In Italy, toward the end of World War II, American G.I. Frank Keeler, who has a job driving a supply truck for the company’s quartermaster, is pilfering many of the supplies and selling them on the black market. Tipped off that his racket has been discovered, Frank decides to hide his profits, about six thousand dollars, in the hope of reclaiming it later. After burying the cash in an explosives box, in a field approximately three kilometers from Amalfi on the road to Naples, Frank is arrested and sentenced to four years in an army prison in the United States. When he is eventually released with a dishonorable discharge, he makes a deal with a seaman named Vince to smuggle him back into Italy so that he can recover the cash. When the ship docks in Naples, Frank assures Vince that he will return in a few hours to pay him off, then boards a bus to Amalfi. There he rents a bicycle and heads for the site where he buried the cash, but discovers that the field is now part of a G.I. cemetery that does not yet have any graves in his specific area. When Pietro, the cemetery’s caretaker, asks him why he is there, Frank tells him that he is Frank Day, the brother of William Day, one of the men buried there. Unable to do any digging, Frank returns to Amalfi and looks up Elena Ravezza, a former girl friend, who is not pleased to see him as she feels he deserted her and resents the fact that he has not communicated with her in four years. After Frank leaves the bar where Elena works for local gangster, The Greek, he is assaulted and his fake passport is stolen. Massina, the police commissario, insists that Frank remains there until the loss can be reported to the U.S. Consulate in Naples. That night, after Vince arrives looking for his money, Frank cycles to the site and starts digging, but is interrupted when Pietro, who lives in a small house on the site, offers him hospitality and tells him that his son and wife were killed during the war. As the frustrated Frank rides away, he sees a car pull up near a low bridge over a grotto. Two passengers emerge from the car and struggle until one kills the other and shoves him off the bridge. After the car drives away, Frank discovers Vince’s body in a stream below the bridge. The next day, because Frank and Vince had been seen arguing the night before and Frank cannot explain his whereabouts, Massina orders that he be detained. Elena, however, unexpectedly, gives Frank an alibi by saying that he was with her all night. Frank then meets Jack Conway, a minor racketeer from New Jersey, who is hiding out in Italy from U.S. tax evasion charges. Conway points out to Frank that he is being followed by the police and proposes that, for a percentage, he could help recover a large sum of money Vince was carrying and help Frank leave Italy. Frank declines, then later talks with Baldori, a local private detective who does odd jobs for the police force and who is following him. They go to the bar where Vince was last seen, and the bartender, Guido, tells Frank that he will come to his hotel room later with information. After Conway and his henchmen pick up Elena and beat her up, Frank asks her about her relationship with Conway, but she changes the subject by having him explain why he abandoned her during the war. After unexpectedly meeting the visiting mother of William Day, who is unaware Frank is posing as a brother of her dead son, Frank meets Guido in his room, but just as he is about to tell Frank who killed Vince, he is killed by an unseen knife-thrower. Later, after Frank asks Elena to leave with him, she asks if he has money and he replies that he soon will have. They agree to meet at the site where the cash is buried, then Elena steals a passport from The Greek, but is shot in the arm by him. Meanwhile, outside Pietro’s house, Frank finds a spade and starts digging. Elena arrives, but is followed by The Greek, who points a gun at Frank and tells him to keep digging. Baldori and Massina, who have also been following Frank’s movements, walk up behind The Greek as Frank tricks him into confessing that he killed Vince and works for Conway. Just then Frank pulls the explosives box out of the ground and lunges at The Greek, who runs off shooting, but is killed by Massina. The commotion awakens Pietro and, after Elena faints as a result of her wound, everyone goes to his house where Frank refuses to hand over the box. When he finally opens it, there is no cash, only a note advising the owner of the contents to consult the Amalfi police. Massina then states that the money was found and brought to him and that after a year had passed and no one had claimed it, it was returned to the finder, Pietro. When Frank asks Pietro what he did with the money, the caretaker shows him a modest chapel, which is being built with Frank’s money in the cemetery. Frank is philosophical about his loss and, when Pietro invites him to stay to see the chapel completed, he agrees.
 

Production Company: W. Lee Wilder  
  Continentalcine  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: W. Lee Wilder (Dir)
Producer: W. Lee Wilder (Pres)
  W. Lee Wilder (Prod)
Writer: Lester Fuller (Scr)
  Robert Harari (From a story by)
Photography: Aldo Giordani (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Gastone Medin (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ruth Trotz (Ed)
Set Decoration: Ernest Kromberg (Set dec)
Costumes: Vasco Gori (Ward supv)
Music: Román Vlad (Mus dir)
Sound: Kurt Doubrawsky (Sd)
Make Up: Alberto De Rossi (Makeup)
Production Misc: Ottavio Poggi (Prod mgr)
  Cesare Torri (Prod asst)
Country: Italy and United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Torna Puricinella," words and music by Gino Conte and Roberto Murolo; "Scalinatella," words and music by Cioffi and Bonacura, publisher: Cioffi.
Composer: Bonacura
  Cioffi
  Gino Conte
  Roberto Murolo
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
W. Lee Wilder 15/6/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP1081

PCA NO: 14596
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Sound System
  b&w:

 
Genre: Drama
  Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
  with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Amalfi (Italy)
  Americans in foreign countries
  Caretakers
  Cemeteries
  Italians
  Murder
  Police
  Postwar life
  Racketeers
  United States. Army
 
Subjects (Minor): Bars
  Bicycles
  Black market
  Chapels
  Greeks
  Mothers and sons
  Naples (Italy)
  Romance
  Tax evasion
  World War II

Note: The film's opening title reads: "W. Lee Wilder in association with Continentalcine presents." Wilder's production company, Meteor Pictures, was based in Beverly Hills, CA. The film was shot in various locations in Italy, including Amalfi, Naples and Rome. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
The Exhibitor   20 Jun 1951   p. 3096.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jun 1950.   
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jun 1951.   
New York Times   29 Jun 1951   p. 14.
Variety   13 Jun 1951   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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