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Portrait: A Man Whose Name Was John (1973)

During World War II, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli attempts to save Jews in Italy from Nazi exterminators.



Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Don Galloway ...
Monsignor Thomas Ryan
Rabbi Isaac Herzog
Numan Menemengioglu
Calheiros de Menezes
Col. Gunter Kroll
Scott Hylands ...
Captain Melech Ben Zvi
Rachel Friedman (as Alizia Gur)
Gil Anav ...
Joseph Kahn
Penny Santon ...
Maria Roncalli
Peter von Zerneck ...
Diana Ferziger ...
Clete Roberts ...
Clete Roberts


During World War II, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli attempts to save Jews in Italy from Nazi exterminators.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama





Release Date:

22 April 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'homme qui s'appelait Jean  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

I remember seeing this as if it were yesterday
10 March 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I just happened to see it on television as a small child, and I can remember whole segments of it. Burr was amazingly powerful as the great voice for sanity and compassion in the Church, Angelo Roncalli, the only Pope that I, raised a Catholic, can truly say I revere and admire as a man.

Roncalli's magnificent efforts to save Jewish children in Turkey and Bulgaria, depicted in this film, do not absolve the entire Church from complicity in the Holocaust, and he himself knew this all too well. Hannah Arendt met with him, and asked what he planned to do against "The Deputy", a play that depicted Piux XII as silent and uncaring in the face of the Nazi exterminations. His reply was "What can you do against the truth?"

So don't use this great and holy man to whitewash the memory of a small and banal one. Pius was not an anti-semite, so much as he was a coward, afraid of what the Nazis would do to him if he spoke out too strongly--in truth, he made it clear early on that he was only concerned with Jewish converts to Christianity. Most of the Jews saved under his watch were not saved by him directly--the Gregory Peck film about Father Flannery shows that he was really only concerned with the survival of the Church as an Institution. He was quite willing to collaborate with the Nazis, if the Nazis won. He was also a racist, and refused to let black American GI's come inside Vatican City, because he thought they'd rape the nuns.

Not a good man. But John XXIII was as great and good a man as the 20th century ever saw. This film is a moving tribute to his humanity and faith. I only wish the Church he tried so valiantly to change better appreciated how right he was.

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