IMDb > "Family Theatre" Hill Number One: A Story of Faith and Inspiration (1951)

"Family Theatre" Hill Number One: A Story of Faith and Inspiration (1951)

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Original Air Date:
25 March 1951
A respectful interpretation of what might have happened among Jesus's followers in the three days before Crucifixion. The story is told in the modern context of an US Army company stationed in Korea during the Korean War. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
From The Crucifixion To The Resurrection See more (5 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order)
Patrick Peyton ... Host (as Father Patrick Peyton)
Gordon Oliver ... Padre
Todd Karns ... Cpl. Bates

Roddy McDowall ... Pvt. Huntington (The Professor)
Charles Smith ... Pvt. Carson
Ray Hyke ... Sgt. Mansfield
Spec O'Donnell ... Pvt. Cashman (as 'Spec' O'Donnell)

William Schallert ... Pvt. Wheeler (as Bill Schallert)
Dan Rankins ... Cpl. Weaver
Marc Hamilton ... Pvt. Madigan
Peter Similuk ... Forward Observer

Ruth Hussey ... Mary

Henry Brandon ... Cassius Longinus

Leif Erickson ... Pilate

Nelson Leigh ... Joseph of Arimathea

Joan Leslie ... Claudia Procles
Jeanne Cagney ... Mary Magdalen
Charles Meredith ... Peter

Frank Wilcox ... Abenadar, the Centurion - St. Ctésiphon
Peter Mamakos ... Gallicus

Gene Lockhart ... Matthew
Everett Glass ... Gaius Flaccus

Regis Toomey ... Nicodemus

James Dean ... John
Terry Kilburn ... Stephen
David Young ... Andrew
Frederic Berest ... Thomas (as Fred Berest)
Joseph F. Mansfield ... Alba

Michael Ansara ... Decius
Jack Baston ... Pilate's Scribe
Pauline Crell ... Mara
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
James Warner Bellah ... Roman Soldier (uncredited)

Episode Crew
Directed by
Arthur Pierson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
James D. Roche  uncredited

Produced by
Jerry Fairbanks .... producer
Patrick Peyton .... producer (as Father Patrick Peyton)
Original Music by
Charles Koff 
Cinematography by
Harold E. Stine  (as Harold Stine)
Lester White (director of photography)
Film Editing by
John C. Fuller 
Art Direction by
Oscar P. Yerg 
Production Management
Jerry Fairbanks .... executive in charge of production
Herbert Moulton .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Tom Andre .... assistant director
Bob Scrivner .... assistant director (as Robert Scrivner)
Sound Department
Larry Aicholtz .... sound (as Lawrence Aicholtz)
Editorial Department
Richard Fritch .... supervising editor
Music Department
Edward Paul .... musical director

Production CompaniesOther Companies

Additional Details

Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Reunites two cast members from the 1942 film "Yankee Doodle Dandy": Joan Leslie (as Claudia, Pilate's wife) and James Cagney's sister Jeanne (as Mary Magdalene).See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in The Bible According to Hollywood (1994) (V)See more »


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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
From The Crucifixion To The Resurrection, 26 August 2008
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

Scriptural accounts of the time between the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus don't give too many details. So as is the case in many big screen biblical spectacles, this small screen adaption for the Catholic Family Theatre entitled Hill Number One attempts to fill in the blanks.

But first we have to give the story a modern relevance. So in Hill Number One there is a modern prologue about a listless and bored company of GIs in Korea who are an artillery battery. On Easter Sunday the Catholic chaplain comes for a visit and as they tell him their difficulties, he reminds them of that first hill to be taken, Hill Number One which was Calvary.

I have to say the number of distinguished players in this television film is a real treat. Ruth Hussey as the Virgin Mary and Leif Erickson as Pontius Pilate have the most screen time, but the main reason this film is preserved and remembered is for James Dean playing the Apostle John. He does kind of stand out and in a group of some of the best players around, you can tell this one was going to be a legend.

One thing I did find unique in this particular biblical interpretation was the varying ages of the disciples. In every other film I've seen, the disciples are all around the same age as Jesus, maybe a bit younger. Here however they range in age. James Dean playing John and Terry Kilburn playing Stephen are clearly teenagers. Dean was 19 when Hill Number One was made. But Charles Meredith as Peter and Gene Lockhart as Matthew are old enough here and in real life to be Dean's father and grandfather respectively. Meredith is youthened somewhat with a heavy wig and beard, so that familiar baldness that made him look like Ike is disguised. That voice is unmistakable. Lockhart shows every bit however that he is 60 years old as St. Matthew as he talks of his background as a tax collector.

The story starts with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, Nelson Leigh and Regis Toomey, requesting the body of Jesus for burial from a very rattled Pontius Pilate who is concerned about his wife's sudden disappearance. Joan Leslie as Claudia going MIA eerily coincides with an earthquake that occurred at the moment Jesus breathes his last on the cross which we do not see.

One other woman has a significant role here, Jeanne Cagney as Mary Magdalene. She interprets her role just enough for this Family Theatre broadcast to show she's a woman who's been around, but now is in a different life.

Hill Number One is not a DeMille eye-popping spectacle of sin and salvation, the production values aren't the best. It is however a straightforward and respectful interpretation of what might have happened among Jesus's followers in those fateful three days. And it's the earliest recorded appearance of a screen legend.

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