Story of teen who saved Jews in WWII comes to Hollywood

The film will be an adaptation of World War II novel 'Beneath a Scarlet Sky.'

August 16, 2017 16:22
1 minute read.
A view of the iconic Hollywood sign

A view of the iconic Hollywood sign. (photo credit: KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/REUTERS)


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The true story of an Italian teenager who helped smuggle Jews over the Alps during World War II will be getting the Hollywood treatment from the same team behind Spider-Man.

According to, Mark Sullivan's novel, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, which is based on a true story, is being adapted as a motion picture. Amy Pascal, who produced the latest Spider-Man film, has reportedly acquired the film rights to the novel, and tapped actor Tom Holland to play the lead role.

Holland, who has been playing Spider-Man for Marvel Comics since 2015, has been praised as a break-out star.

Sullivan's novel follows the real-life story of Pino Lella, an Italian teenager who joined an underground railroad during World War II. He helped Jews escape to freedom as Nazi forces closed in.

But Lella's parents were terrified for his safety, and thought he would be kept out of combat if he enlisted as a German soldier. He ended up becoming the personal driver for General Hans Leyers, one of Hitler's top commanders in Italy. Lella then had the opportunity to spy for the Allies from inside the top ranks of the German army.

Sullivan's novel, which was published in May, has received many positive reviews and become a quick best-seller.

Pascal, who is Jewish, was ousted as the studio boss at Sony Pictures in 2015 after an embarrassing email hacking scandal. But as the head of her own production company, Pascal Pictures, she appears to be making a comeback.

In 2008, Pascal was honored by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with its highest honor, the Humanitarian Award, "for her commitment to cultural diversity, social responsibility and philanthropy."

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