Rev. James K. Friedrich produced this picture in order to portray a "correct" version of the crucifixion. After PCA censor Joseph Breen voiced concerns about the onscreen representation of Jesus, producer John T. Coyle decided to eliminate Jesus as an onscreen character and to use the camera's point of view to represent him instead. The picture was not released nationally until 1941, but had its previews in Joplin, MO, and at the Ambassdor Theater in Los Angeles on 2 Oct. 1939 See more »
The oldest, yet longest, of the four religious films commissioned by various Christian groups that I watched (I opted not to go through too much 'straight' stuff while waiting for the result of the General Elections over here!) actually had the backing of one of the Hollywood majors Twentieth Century Fox. The familiar events of The Passion are played out as a backdrop to the main narrative that involving a couple of zealot brothers who clash over their mission (the impulsive younger sibling wants to act now while the more practical older one, played by John Beal, wants to wait for the arrival of The Messiah); the latter also falls out with his father because he has in mind for him to become a scholar while marrying off Beal's sweetheart to his brother! Eventually, he sets out to find Jesus and offer him his sword of allegiance but he slowly comes to understand his message of Peace and Love. Also involved is a Roman officer, well played by Albert Dekker: as it turns out, Beal's brother winds up dead after an attempt on Dekker's life (who is crippling the Jews with taxes, gathered by the "snivelling" and typically slimy Ian Wolfe); however, Beal inspired by his new faith takes care of the wounded Dekker who, noticing the Jews' confusion and anger at Beal for his conduct, decides to lock him up. During his tenure in jail, it transpires that Christ was tried, convicted and crucified; still baffled by Beal's behavior, Dekker asks him to explain the catch is that the person who 'converted' Beal towards helping even his enemies turns out to be the very same one in whose side Dekker had just driven the proverbial spear!
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