The Great Man (1956)

 |  Drama  |  December 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 179 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 2 critic

Joe Harris, preparing a eulogy for popular radio commentator Herb Fuller, finds that nobody has a good word to say about him.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Carleton
Sid Moore
Carol Larson
Joanne Gilbert ...
Ginny - Harris' secretary
Paul Beaseley
Nick Cellantano
Russ Morgan ...
Eddie Brand
Dr. O'Connor (as Edward C. Platt)
Robert Foulk ...
Mike Jackson - radio engineer
Harry Connors
Vinton Hayworth ...
Charley Carruthers
Henny Backus ...
Mrs. Rieber
Janie Alexander ...
Mary Browne
Vikki Dougan ...
Marcia - new receptionist


On the death of popular national radio commentator Herb Fuller, underling Joe Harris undertakes to prepare an hour long, eulogistic program featuring interviews with Fuller's friends. But, though Fuller was beloved by 150 million of what all the pros term the "great unwashed," all Harris can find is victims, cynical users, and outright enemies of Fuller. Is this where the magic of editing comes in? Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everybody loved the Great Man except those who hated his guts!







Release Date:

December 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Luz de uma Ilusão  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ginny: Feet of clay, huh?
Joe Harris: Right up to the knees, at least.
See more »


Written by Bobby Troup and Leah Worth
Performed by Julie London
See more »

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User Reviews

THE GREAT MAN (Jose' Ferrer, 1956) ***1/2
10 January 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

The immense influence Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE (1941) has had on the language of cinema is well documented. So, to a lesser degree, is the freedom it gave film-makers – not always of comparable talent – towards (vaguely autobiographical) self-indulgence in their work. Yet another ripple it undeniably created (actually borrowed from THE POWER AND THE GLORY {1933}, which I own but have yet to watch!) led to a whole series of films taking a sour look at the American dream, depicting – via their flashback structure – the rise and fall of a successful but, at heart, unscrupulous public figure. Among these are RUTHLESS (1948), ALL ABOUT EVE (1950), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952), Welles' own MR. ARKADIN aka CONFIDENTIAL REPORT (1955), THE Oscar (1966), etc.

THE GREAT MAN, then, is one such effort – and an unfairly neglected example into the bargain (even if both the Leslie Halliwell and Leonard Maltin movie guides are duly complimentary in their assessment)…which rather suggests that it stands up better than other, more renowned titles in this vein! It also emerges as the most significant directorial venture by star/co-writer Ferrer. For the record, I own all 7 of the pictures he helmed – but, perhaps tellingly, this was only the second I have checked out (and which I opted to watch on the occasion of his birthday). Given the Oscar winner's reputation as a thespian, his choice of 'personal' projects was – for the most part – curiously bland and commercial in nature!

Setting this apart from the established formula is the fact that the subject of the expose' is never shown; we only learn about him – and, consequently, formulate our own opinion – from the way others (who knew him intimately, professionally or just vicariously through his popular radio show) react to news of his passing in a traffic accident. Besides, running concurrently with the main plot (the compiling of information by a small-time radio personality – played by Ferrer himself – for a "heart-rending" eulogy, to be delivered in a live broadcast by the network to commemorate "the great man") are the hero's conflicting emotions about his increasingly unpleasant and "phoney" task…especially since he was being all but promoted as the deceased's successor on the airwaves!

Ultimately, the trump-cards here – which make all the difference – are the smartly cynical script (co-adapted by novel author Al Morgan) and a first-rate cast that, apart from Ferrer (in fine form), includes: real-life father and son Ed and Keenan Wynn (credited with, respectively, discovering and nurturing the ungrateful and opportunistic titular character); Julie London (as a chanteuse and his alcoholic mistress); and Dean Jagger (as the Machiavellian network head). Incidentally, the copy I viewed of this one was pretty substandard for the digital era (which has well and truly spoiled us movie-buffs, it must be said!) and, while a somewhat better-quality version does exist online, I had difficulty acquiring it...

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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