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.