Review: ‘Pope Joan’

Pope Joan deals with a female head of the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks to a screenplay that uses a modern-day story counterpart to suggest, apparently, that the theme is timely, this is too disjointed and rambling to make much sense.

Pope Joan deals with a female head of the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks to a screenplay that uses a modern-day story counterpart to suggest, apparently, that the theme is timely, this is too disjointed and rambling to make much sense.

The story is told as the ancient prototype of a modern female evangelist, torn between sex and salvation, whose religious fervor and bedroom capers more or less match those of her earlier counterpart.

She’s ‘adopted’ in more ways than one by an artist-monk who eventually takes her to Greece as a male. They eventually wind up in Rome where her street preaching brings her to the attention of Leo XII, who takes her (him) on as a papal secretary, upped to cardinal and eventually his successor.

Liv Ullmann as Pope Joan carries the film with Maximilian Schell and Franco Nero trailing behind.

[Version reviewed is 132-minute one trade shown in New York. The 101-minute UK version omits all modern sequences.]

Pope Joan

UK

Production

Columbia/Big City. Director Michael Anderson; Producer Kurt Unger; Screenplay John Briley; Camera Billy Williams; Editor Bill Lenny; Music Maurice Jarre; Art Director Elliot Scott

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1972. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Liv Ullmann Trevor Howard Lesley-Anne Down Franco Nero Olivia de Havilland Maximilian Schell
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