6.9/10
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14 user 4 critic

The Great Man (1956)

Approved | | Drama | December 1956 (USA)
Joe Harris, preparing a eulogy for popular radio commentator Herb Fuller, finds that nobody has a good word to say about him.

Director:

José Ferrer

Writers:

Al Morgan (screenplay), José Ferrer (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
José Ferrer ... Joe Harris
Dean Jagger ... Philip Carleton
Keenan Wynn ... Sid Moore
Julie London ... Carol Larson
Joanne Gilbert Joanne Gilbert ... Ginny
Ed Wynn ... Paul Beaseley
Jim Backus ... Nick Cellantano
Russ Morgan Russ Morgan ... Eddie Brand
Edward Platt ... Dr. O'Connor (as Edward C. Platt)
Robert Foulk ... Mike Jackson
Lyle Talbot ... Harry Connors
Vinton Hayworth ... Charley Carruthers
Henny Backus Henny Backus ... Mrs. Helen Rieber
Janie Alexander Janie Alexander ... Mary Browne
Vikki Dougan ... Marcia Miller - Receptionist
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"The Great Man? I figured I could handle him all right, but I was wrong...I couldn't...not that first night...or ever!" See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Luz de uma Ilusão See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Loosely based on the career of Arthur Godfrey. See more »

Goofs

When Joe, Mike, and Jinny are listening to the "blood bank" tape, the VU meter has no relation to the audio. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Version of Pretendent (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

The Meaning of the Blues
Words and Music by Bobby Troup and Leah Worth
Performed by Julie London
[The song comes on the radio in Carol's apartment]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A lost classic
23 August 2016 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

I've often been chastised for posting obits in which I have been less than flattering about the person who has passed on; not nasty by any means, merely truthful about their shortcomings. In "The Great Man" that is the dilemma facing Jose Ferrer; should he sing the praises of the 'Great Man' of the title, a recently deceased and much loved, at least by the people who only saw his public face, radio and television personality or should he tell the truth and expose him for the monster he was.

Ferrer's film came out around the same time as Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd" and while Kazan's film, which plays out in much the same ballpark, has gone on to become a classic, Ferrer's remains virtually unseen; personally I think it's a great picture, a testament to Ferrer's often undervalued talent. There are no great cinematic flourishes here, as there are in "Citizen Kane", another film that Ferrer's has often been compared to. This is a simple, literary piece, almost a series of talking heads as Ferrer, who also stars, interviews those who knew 'the great man', including his mistress, an excellent Julie London, and best of all, Ed Wynn as the man who first discovered him. Wynn's magnificent here, (he was nominated for both the Golden Globe and a BAFTA), and Ferrer is canny enough to give him his dues. As Wynn describes his feelings Ferrer allows his camera to slowly creep up on him. He only has this one scene but it's one of the great performances by an actor in a supporting role. His son Keenan is also superb as another executive out for what he can get. As I've said, this movie is almost impossible to see, at least here in the UK, but if you get the chance take it; it's one of the best American films of the fifties.


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