Otto Preminger showed courage when he decided to make G.B. Shaw's Saint Joan into a film and to star an unknown of next to no theatrical experience in the role. Jean Seberg of Marshalltown, Iowa, makes a sincere effort, but her performance rarely rises above the level of the Iowa prairie.

Otto Preminger showed courage when he decided to make G.B. Shaw’s Saint Joan into a film and to star an unknown of next to no theatrical experience in the role. Jean Seberg of Marshalltown, Iowa, makes a sincere effort, but her performance rarely rises above the level of the Iowa prairie.

Seberg is helped most by her appealing looks. She has a fresh, unspoiled quality and she photographs well. But Shaw’s Joan is more than just an innocent country maiden.

In vivid contrast, Preminger surrounds her with a supporting cast that performs brilliantly. Richard Widmark plays the idiot Dauphin with gusto though he at times overacts the part. Richard Todd as Dunois; Anton Walbrook as Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, and Felix Aylmer, the Inquisitor.

It is John Gielgud who stands out with a brilliant performance as the politically-minded Earl of Warwick, determined to get Joan to the stake, though contemptuous of the Church’s winded arguments of ‘heretic’ vs ‘witch’.

Graham Greene wrote the screenplay, and while it is somewhat toned down, and probably less anti-clerical than the Shaw original, it still retains the essentials of the Shaw classic.

Saint Joan

Production

United Artists. Director Otto Preminger; Producer Otto Preminger; Screenplay Graham Greene; Camera Georges Perinal; Editor Helga Cranston; Music Mischa Spoliansky; Art Director Roger Furse

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1957. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Jean Seberg Richard Widmark Richard Todd Anton Walbrook John Gielgud Felix Aylmer
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