Tired of working in the construction of atomic bombs and worried about the destructive power of his invention, an American scientist with international prestige runs away from his country and takes refuge in the anonymity of a peaceful village in the Mediterranean coast called Calabuch. When he gets there, he is taken for a smuggler’s accomplice and is arrested by the guardia civil (Spanish civil guard) and locked in a prison cell.

Without even trying, the scientist, who is taken for a kind-hearted tramp without papers and renamed Jorge, begins to fit in completely with the lifestyle of Calabuch. He befriends its peculiar inhabitants; he helps them solve their problems and takes part in all sorts of activities. He projects films in the old cinema, he helps the teacher in the small school and, when the local fiestas start, he ends up doing what he does best, that is, he makes rockets and fireworks which reach heights never seen in the area. Those fireworks alert the international authorities as to the whereabouts of the missing scientist. When the US fleet goes there looking for him, all the inhabitants of the village, from the teacher to the priest, and from the warrant officer to the smuggler, get together to thwart his rescue. However, Jorge knows he cannot refuse to go and finally decides to go voluntarily, without resistance, aware of the fact that he has earned himself the friendship and love of all Calabuch.

Production: Águila Films (Madrid) – Films Costellazione (Rome).

Director: Luis García Berlanga.

Story: Leonardo Martín.

Screenplay: Leonardo Martín, Florentino Soria, Ennio Flaiano and Luis García Berlanga.

Director of Photography: Francisco Sempere (B/W).

Music: Guido Guerrini [according to some sources, Angelo Francesco Lavagnino].

Editor: Pepita Orduña.

Set Decorator: Román Calatayud.

Executive Producer: José Jerez Aloza.

Assistant Director: Leonardo Martín. Continuity: Lucía Martín. Second Cameraman: Miguel Agudo. Still photographer: Manuel Beringola. Production Assistant: Luis Méndez Amago. Unit Production Manager: Enrique Carlos Jerez. Make-up Artist: José Luis Ruiz. Hair Stylist: Esperanza Paradela. Assistant Make-up Artist: Manuel F. Gaitán. Sound Manager: Jaime Torrens. Assistant Editor: Alicia Castillo. Assistant Decorator: Bernardo Ballester. Second Assistant Directors: Giménez and Pérez Puig. Furniture and Props: Mateos-Luna-Menjibar. Costume Design: Peris Hermanos. Set Constructor: Francisco Prósper. Film Studios: Sevilla Films, S.A. (Madrid). Music Edition: Elle. Sound System: RCA. Fireworks: Luis Bronchu (Valencia). Laboratory: Ballesteros (Madrid).


Edmund Gwenn (Jorge Hamilton), Valentina Cortese (Eloísa, the teacher), Juan Calvo (Matías), Franco Fabrizzi (el Langosta/the Lobster), José Isbert (don Ramón), José Luis Ozores (matador), Félix Fernández (priest), Nicolás Perchicot (Andrés), Mario Berriatúa (Juan), Francisco Bernal (Crescencio), María Vico (Teresa), Isa Ferreriro (Carmen), Manuel Guitián (don Leonardo), Casimiro Hurtado (Antonio), Pedro Beltrán (Fermín), Manuel Alexandre (Vicente, the artist), Lolo García (Felipe).


OCIC Award in the Venice Film Festival.

Awards for best original story, best supporting actor (Juan Calvo) and best foreign actor in a Spanish film (Edmund Gwenn) from the Cinematographic Writers Guild, Spain.

Second Prize for best film from the Showbusiness National Union.

Awards for best supporting actor (Juan Calvo) and best screenplay from the Showbusiness National Union, Spain.

Filming Location

Peñíscola (Castellón).

More information

Release Date: 1 October 1956.

Official Film Rating: Interés Nacional (National Interest).

Year of production


Year of release in Spain