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Godspell (1973)
"Godspell: A Musical Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew" (original title)

G  |   |  Musical  |  24 August 1973 (Denmark)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 2,372 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 15 critic

An adaption of the musical, in a modern-day song-and-dance recreation of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Godspell (1973)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Katie Hanley ...
Katie
David Haskell ...
John / Judas
Merrell Jackson ...
Merrell
Joanne Jonas ...
Joanne
Robin Lamont ...
Robin
Gilmer McCormick ...
Gilmer
Jeffrey Mylett ...
Jeffrey
...
Jerry
...
Lynne
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Storyline

A modern-day version of the gospels, opening with John the Baptist calling a disparate group of young New Yorkers from their workaday lives to follow and learn from Jesus. They form a roving acting troupe that enacts the parables through song and dance, comedy, and mime. Jesus' ministry ends with a last supper, his Crucifixion in a junkyard, and, the following morning, his body being carried aloft by his apostles back into the world of the living on the streets of New York. Written by Steven Dhuey <sdhuey@mail.soemadison.wisc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

GODSPELL is a miracle of a movie musical! See more »

Genres:

Musical

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

24 August 1973 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Godspell  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Cherry Lane Theatre, site of the Prodigal Son scene, was where the play "Godspell" opened off Broadway in 1971. See more »

Goofs

When the troupe is carrying the deceased Jesus around the corner, and the streets of Manhattan are supposed to be vacant, a person walks on a sidewalk in the background. See more »

Quotes

Jesus: How do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
Judas: I don't know, how do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
Jesus: You hypocrite!
Judas: Wha-ha?
[cry of confused alarm]
Jesus: First you take the plank out of your own eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother's eye!
Judas: Wait a minute! That's no answer to the question!
Jesus: Did I promise you an answer to the ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits include an infinity frames effect. A sixteen second film of a busy street is shown, and then the right and bottom of the frame is frozen in a sideways capital L. This then becomes the frame for the next iteration of the film, which in turn leaves its right and bottom edges as a frame for the next film. Over the frames and film are played thumbnails of the actors, then credit cards and finally a credit scroll. See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Best Friend's Birthday (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

All For The Best
Written by Stephen Schwartz
Performed by Victor Garber, David Haskell, and Company
See more »

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User Reviews

Of Two Godspell Farewells
16 April 2003 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

The hit Broadway musical Godspell was a contemporary adaptation of episodes from the Gospel According to St. Matthew. In 1972, its original Producers, Edgar Lansbury, Stuart Duncan and Joseph Beruh, decided to bring the Stephen Schwartz/Jon-Michael Tebelak musical to the screen themselves, with a view toward maintaining as densely as possible the artistic integrity of their original stage version.

That said, the film version merits special reference in light of the recent deaths of two of its principals: David Greene, who directed and co-wrote the screenplay, with Tebelak; and actress/singer Lynne Thigpen, who was a member of the 10-actor ensemble cast of the film.

Set in a New York City not yet recognizable to a generation destined to grow up in the shadow of 9/11, Godspell the movie is highlighted with spectacular moments that are best described as incredible. Its expanded opening number begins silently on the Brooklyn Bridge, as David Haskell, portraying both John the Baptist and Judas Iscariot, walks into the heart of Manhattan, hoping that his fellow New Yorkers will indeed "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." Jesus, portrayed by Victor Garber (who had a tremendous singing voice in those days), is depicted as a kind of manchild/Superman icon, determined to save the world through his ministry of three years. The ten actors then cavort across the screen over the next 95 or so minutes, telling parables in a raucously funny, delightfully rockin' manner.

In its final sequences, however, the film turns understandably dark, as Garber/Jesus confronts his ultimate destiny. Before long, the epic Finale, in which Garber, tied by his wrists to a chain-link fence, depicts the Crucifixion in horrifyingly simple terms; all the while, the other nine actors scream horribly as the rocking Schwartz score howls to its otherworldly symphonic conclusion.

With the coming of the dawn, the actors carry off their "dead" leader and vanish into the maelstrom of Manhattan, in a closing image that will shake you to its foundations, even as you groove to Paul Shaffer's awesome keyboard action during the expanded end-credit sequence.

The present generation knows Lynne Thigpen as a brilliant actress/singer and performer whose subsequent knack for portraying motherly or grandmotherly roles was no doubt spawned by her experience in the Godspell movie. To a whole universe of kids, however, she will always be known as simply "The Chief." If you were, as I was, a regular viewer of PBS Kids' Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and its eventual spinoff, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, you need not be made familiar with the Chief. She was tough, motherly, no-nonsense --- but she knew how to teach fans a thing or two, whether it was the power of geography or the realm of history.

Director David Greene, who died at the age of 82, was the fellow responsible for bringing the spectacular images of the Godspell film to the screen. It remains perhaps his most famous such feature, the only one wherein one could suggest that he was properly in tune with the youth of the 70s. Perhaps, even now, it is this that causes most folks to compare this film against Norman Jewison's film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Both films, frankly, are what they are. No more, no less.

Enjoy, then, Godspell the movie --- but remember that you are also witnessing the blossoming of two of the unique talents who brought it to life: David Greene, director; Lynne Thigpen, star. So long, you two. We'll miss ya.


16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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