with Ingrid BergmanParamount Studios stepped in and inexplicably cast ballerina Vera Zorina in the key role of Maria - much to Hemingway's horror. The author wanted an actress David O. Selznick had imported from Sweden four years before, Ingrid Bergman.

Ms. Bergman, who was causing a sensation in the just-released Casablanca, had expressed interest and was available.
Not long after Bell Tolls filming began in Nevada, it became obvious that Ms. Zorina was indeed not the right choice - and Bergman soon arrived on location and took over the role of Maria.

There was frequent speculation on whether Cooper continued to have off-screen dalliances with his leading ladies after his marriage - the majority of opinion was apparently not.
However, during the filming of Bell Tolls, it was apparent to members of the company that he could not conceal his attraction to Ms. Bergman, nor she hers to him.  Their scenes together are far and away the saving grace of the film, which is otherwise a seemingly interminable and confused 180 minutes.  As one reviewer put it, "After what seems like hours upon hours, one no longer knows what it is the Spaniards are so impassioned about, much less cares."  The film was a curiosity -
a box-office smash about which no one raved.


During World War II many Hollywood stars toured military bases and other scenes of troop concentrations, providing any entertainment they could for "the boys." Cooper signed on for a five-week tour of army, navy, and marine bases in New Guinea. At a loss for material, he consulted Spencer Tracy, who had just returned from a similar engagement. "You gotta sing," Tracy told him. "The worse you are, the more they eat it up." The tone-deaf Tracy had sung "Pistol-Packin' Mama", a pseudo-Western nonsense song with almost no melody but a whole lot of color, to standing ovations.
(What a shame no footage appears to have been shot of that!)




"Meeting those soldiers in the mud, the rain, the jungle, and trying to reassure them that the folks back home are proud of them and conscious to some extent of what they're doing for America," Cooper said. "The boys are so appreciative of the slightest little thing you try to do for them, it's almost pitiful. Those kids'll be sitting out on a muddy hillside and wouldn't think of moving an inch until the show's over. Under those conditions, you rise above yourself and give it everything you've got."


A G.I. asked Cooper to do the Lou Gehrig farewell speech from Pride of the Yankees, and it became part of his standard repertoire. It always brought a complete hush over the large gatherings, and Coop could never help choking up whenever he spoke it.


Coop shares a meal with servicemen.
"The boys don't have a thing, except good G.I. food - they do
have that. And movies, yes, they have plenty of movies."


with Loretta Young
Cooper's 1944 film The Story of Dr. Wassell was his final obligation to Paramount Studios;  with 1945's "Along Came Jones" he took on the role of producer for the first and last time.  Jones was a mild success and Coop obviously had a good time parodying his Western image, but he decided to let someone else have the production worries in the future.

<< Along Came Jones (1945)
Cooper as bumbling cowhand Melody Jones determined to help Loretta Young at any cost.

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