I adored the teleplays of the late 1940s and 1950s. Imagine...TV put on several live plays each week--and many of them were written specifically for these broadcasts. And, on top of that, the shows often featured top actors, up and coming actors who would gain great fame and amazing writers. Some of the teleplays were so good that Hollywood later remade them--and these films went on to garner top awards or are today considered some of the very best films of the decade (such as "Marty" and "12 Angry Men"! We are lucky that some of these early shows are now available on DVD--too bad we don't have more, as I've seen just about all those that are available.
This particular show was sponsored by Westinghouse--and on almost every "Studio One" episode I have seen, they've left the old commercials starring Betty Furness intact. However, in this particular film, commercials only occur at the beginning and end--with no interruption. This was done out of respect for the religious nature of this particular episode as it's about the death of Christ. Times sure were different when this was aired! Nowadays, I'd almost expect product placement should any religious show ever be made for TV today (though today such religious shows might 'offend' someone, so I doubt if you'll see any more shows like this).
While I have seen a lot of bad biblical films from this era (such as "Samson and Delilah" and "David and Bathsheba"), I was surprised that I enjoyed this particular one so much. It's a wonderful WHAT IF sort of production that asks what was it like for Pontius Pilate before, during and after the crucifixion. All the forces acting upon him--the Pharisees, Herod and Pilate's own wife--these are what he faces in this dramatization. And, while it's mostly fictionalized, it seemed credible and very well acted and written--and not full of phony sentimentality and silly dialog. It was NOT just inspirational but interesting...a rarity for a Biblical film (which, sadly, can be tedious despite the source material). Well worth seeing even if it did go on a bit long and the final epilogue was just a bit heavy-handed...and still one of the better teleplays from "Studio One".
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