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Saint Joan (1957)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, History | 8 May 1957 (USA)
In 1456, French King Charles VII recalls the story of how he met the seventeen-year-old peasant girl Joan of Arc, entrusted her with the command of the French Army, and ultimately burned her at the stake as a heretic.

Director:

Otto Preminger
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... The Dauphin, Charles VII
Richard Todd ... Dunois, Bastard of Orleans
Anton Walbrook ... Cauchon - Bishop of Beauvais
John Gielgud ... Earl of Warwick
Felix Aylmer ... Inquisitor
Archie Duncan Archie Duncan ... Robert de Baudricourt
Harry Andrews ... John de Stogumber
Margot Grahame ... Duchesse de la Tremouille
Barry Jones ... De Courcelles
Francis De Wolff Francis De Wolff ... La Tremouille
Finlay Currie ... Archbishop of Rheims
Victor Maddern ... English Soldier
Bernard Miles ... Master Executioner
David Oxley ... 'Bluebeard',- Gilles de Rais
Patrick Barr ... Captain La Hire
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Storyline

Young Joan of Arc comes to the palace in France to make The Dauphin King of France and is appointed to head the French Army. After winning many battles she is not needed any longer and soon she is thought of as a witch. Written by McGinty <McGinty@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Brilliant Triumph!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 May 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Saint Joan See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$400,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Wheel Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Audrey Hepburn was originally offered the role of Joan. Rumor had it she turned it down because her husband, Mel Ferrer, wasn't offered the role of the Dauphin, but Ferrer denied this. See more »

Goofs

The film quotes the phrase 'God is on the side of the big battalions'. But this phrase was first said by Napoleon Bonaparte, during the 1700s. See more »

Quotes

Dunois, Bastard of Orleans: Do you expect people to love you for showing them up?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in computer colorized version (Hal Roach VHS) See more »

Connections

Version of BBC Play of the Month: St. Joan (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
St. Joan's Trip To Heaven...
5 January 2009 | by artihcus022See all my reviews

Preminger's adaptation of G. B. Shaw's ''Saint Joan''(screenplay by Graham Greene) received one of the worst critical reactions in it's day. It was vilified by the pseudo-elite, the purists and the audiences was unresponsive to a film that lacked the piety and glamour expected of a historical pageant. As in ''Peeping Tom'', the reaction was malicious and unjustified. Preminger's adaptation of Shaw's intellectual exploration of the effects and actions surrounding Joan of Arc(her actual name in her own language is Jeanne d'Arc but this film is in English) is totally faithful to the spirit of the original play, not only on the literal emotional level but formally too. His film is a Brechtian examination of the functioning of institutions, the division within and without of various factions all wanting to seize power. As such we are not allowed to identify on an emotional level with any of the characters, including Joan herself.

As played by Jean Seberg(whose subsequent life offers a eerie parallel to her role here), she is presented as an innocent, a figure of purity whose very actions and presence reveals the corruption and emptiness in everyone. As such Seberg plays her as both Saint and Madwoman. Her own lack of experience as an actress when she made this film(which does show up in spots) conveys the freshness and youth of Jeanne revealing both the fact that Jeanne la Pucelle is a humble illiterate peasant girl who strode out to protect her village and her natural intelligence. By no means did she deserve the harsh criticism that she got on the film's first release, it's a performance far beyond the ken and call of any first-time actress with no prior acting experience. Shaw and Preminger took a secular view towards Joan seeing her as a medieval era feminist, not content with being a rustic daughter who's fate is to be married away or a whore picked up by soldiers to and away from battlefields. Her faith, her voices, her visions which she intermingles with words such as "imagination" and "common sense" leads her to wear the armour of her fellow soldiers to lead them to battle to chase the invading Englishman out of France.

And yet it can be said that the film is more interested in the court of the Dauphin(Richard Widmark), the office of the clergy who try Joan led by Pierre Cauchon(Anton Walbrook, impeccably cast) and the actions of the Earl of Warwick(John Gielgud) then in Joan herself. The superb ensemble cast(all male) portray figures of scheming, Machievellian(although the story precedes Niccolo) opportunists who treat religion as a childish toy to be used and manipulated for their own ends. The sharp sardonic dialogue gives the actors great fun to let loose. John Gielgud as the eminently rational Earl whose intelligence,(albeit accompanied by corruption), allows him to calculate the precise manner in which he can ensure Joan gets burnt at the stake and Anton Walbrook's Pierre Cauchon brings a three dimensional portrait to this intelligent theologian who will give Joan the fair trial that will certainly find her guilty. Richard Widmark as the Dauphin is a real revelation. As against-type a casting choice you'll ever find, Widmark portrays the weak future ruler of France in a frenzied, comic caricature that's as close as this film comes to comic relief. A comic performance that feels like an imitation of Jerry Lewis far more than an impetuous future ruler of France.

Preminger shot ''Saint Joan'' in black and white, the cinematographer is Georges Perinal who worked with Rene Clair and who did ''The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp'' in colour. It's perfectly restrained to emphasize the rational intellectual atmosphere for this film. Preminger's preference for tracking shots of long uninterrupted takes is key to the effectiveness of the film, there's no sense of a wasted movement anywhere in his mise-en-scene.

It also marks the direction of Preminger's most mature(and most neglected period) his focus is on the conflict between individuals and the institutions in which they work, how the institution function and how the individual acts as per his principles. These themes get their most direct treatment in his film and as always he keeps things unpredictable and finds no black and white answers. This is one of his very best and most effective films.


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