Man of La Mancha is a 1972 film adaptation of the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha by Dale Wasserman, with music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion. The musical was suggested by the classic novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, but more directly based on Wasserman's 1959 non-musical television play, I, Don Quixote, which combines a semi-fictional episode from the life of Cervantes with scenes from his novel. The film was financed by an Italian production company, Produzioni Europee Associates, and shot in Rome. However, it is entirely in English, and all of its principal actors except for Sophia Loren are either British or American. (Gino Conforti, who plays the Barber, is an American of Italian descent.) The film was released by United Artists. It is known in Italy as L'Uomo della Mancha. The film was produced and directed by Arthur Hiller, and stars Peter O'Toole as both Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote, James Coco as both Cervantes' Manservant and Don Quixote's "squire" Sancho Panza, and Sophia Loren as scullery maid and prostitute Aldonza, whom the delusional Don Quixote idolizes as Dulcinea. Gillian Lynne, who later choreographed Cats, staged the choreography for the film (including the fight scenes). Gino Conforti, as the barber, is the only member of the original Broadway musical cast to repeat his role for the film, though James Coco also played that role, briefly, on Broadway.
Cervantes and his manservant have been imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition, and a manuscript by Cervantes is seized by his fellow inmates, who subject him to a mock trial in order to determine whether the manuscript should be returned. Cervantes' defense is in the form of a play, in which Cervantes takes the role of Alonso Quijana, an old gentleman who has lost his mind and now believes that he should go forth as a knight-errant. Quijana renames himself Don Quixote de La Mancha, and sets out to find adventures with his "squire", Sancho Panza.