What follows below is background on the original film. You can also read about the  new 2009 Web and DVD version

In the early 20th century,  many of the residents of the town of Winsted were immigrants from southern Italy, with many from the town of Floridia, Sicily. One of them was my grandfather, Carmine E. Cornelio, a civic-minded person who loved his adopted homeland, but who never forgot the land of his birth.

He was an had been an established automobile dealer in Litchfield County for twenty years, when after World War II there was a pent-up demand for cars, which had not been manufactured during the war. Mr. Cornelio used some of the profits from his suddenly booming business for a special purpose: the creation of this film. 

No expense was spared; a professional crew was hired and the project was filmed in color, which used in only a minority of Hollywood films until the 1950s. My father, who remembers the filming well as he was eighteen at the time, says the total cost was over $10,000. According to measuringworth.com, that would be over $90,000 in today’s dollars! Whatever the actual cost, a considerable sum was paid to create this film which would then be used to take back to Sicily, to draw families together, and to demonstrate the power of the American Dream exemplified in the scenes and faces of the small town of Winsted.

While we can imagine the delight of the first audiences who viewed it here and abroad, there is no written record of those events, and the film eventually ended up in the basement of the family home in Torrington, where it sat for more than 25 years.

Fortunately,  in the mid 1970’s Carmine’s daughter Florence recognized that the film was in danger of being lost forever. While the 16mm celluloid had suffered some significant ravages of time, a professional restoration was arranged for and financed by Albert Cornelio.  The result became known as the “Cornelio Legacy Film.”  A copy was soon donated to the local community college with the request “that it be shown from time to time so that the people of Winsted could have access to their past.”

By 1985 the film had been shown to the public five times, and Northwestern Connecticut Community College given permission to sell copies of the original film footage for a scholarship endowment.  If you would like to purchase the original film on DVD, please look at the Carmine Cornelio Scholarship link here.


7 responses to “About

  1. Christopher Cornelio

    Great work Luigi! Aunt Flo would be so happy to see all the effort and love you’ve put into this project. It really is a special film, made more so thanks to your efforts. Cheers!

  2. Phyllis Cornelio

    What a wonderful job! I know it took a lot of time and effort to do this. Congratulations!

    Aunt Flo would have loved this and I am sure she is looking down from Heaven thanking you for the many hours you devoted to this.

    I hope people from Winsted enjoy this and remember the Cornelio family and all other people shown here.

  3. giacomo

    All that’s missing is “The Merry Oldsmobile” theme song

  4. Thanks for this background information – I’ve watched the film several times, but didn’t know about Florence and Albert’s role in preserving it.

  5. Lisa Cushman

    Great job! I had no idea you’d done so much work putting together this website. Thanks so much!

    My mom and her cousins Andy, Joe, and Cynthia would love to see more of the family scenes from your parents’ wedding.

  6. Leonardo

    USA is great because you could afford to shoot a movie in 1948! Nice job, a beautiful portrait of our grandfathers, greetings from Floridia!

  7. No Names

    Enjoyed the movie and information. My family came over from Sicily in 1902, and most of my mother’s side still live in Winsted, Torrington, and the surrounding area. I was raised in Maine, but always LOVED visiting my sicilian family in Winsted. It felt like home, and still does.

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