Francis of Assisi (film)
Francis of Assisi is a 1961 DeLuxe CinemaScope movie directed by Michael Curtiz, based on the 1958 novel The Joyful Beggar by Louis de Wohl. It was shot entirely in Italy. The film was a box-office loss. It starred Bradford Dillman in one of his few sympathetic leading film roles (he usually played a villainous character onscreen).
|Francis of Assisi|
|Directed by||Michael Curtiz|
|Produced by||Plato A. Skouras|
|Written by||Louis De Wohl (novel)|
|Screenplay by||Eugene Vale|
Jack W. Thomas
|Based on||The Joyful Beggar|
|Music by||Mario Nascimbene|
|Edited by||Louis R. Loeffler|
|Distributed by||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
|Box office||$1.8 million (US/ Canada)|
Two years after the release of Francis of Assisi, Dolores Hart, the 24-year-old actress who plays St. Clare in the film, became a Roman Catholic nun at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut.
Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman) is the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, who gives up all his worldly goods to dedicate himself to God. Clare (Dolores Hart) is a young aristocratic woman who, according to the film, is so taken with St. Francis that she leaves her family and becomes a nun. By this time (1212 A.D.), St. Francis has a well-established reputation for his vows of poverty. The movie goes on to note miracles (such as the appearance of the stigmata on Francis's hands and feet) and other aspects of his life, up to and including his death on October 3, 1226. The funeral befitted a man loved by man and beast alike, and ended with the birds he loved doing a flyby.
- Bradford Dillman as Francis Bernardone of Assisi
- Dolores Hart as Clare
- Stuart Whitman as Count Paolo of Vandria
- Cecil Kellaway as Cardinal Hugolino
- Eduard Franz as Pietro Bernardone
- Athene Seyler as Aunt Buona
- Finlay Currie as The Pope
- Mervyn Johns as Brother Juniper
- Russell Napier as Brother Elias
- John Welsh as Canon Cattanei
- Harold Goldblatt as Bernard
- Edith Sharpe as Donna Pica
- Jack Lambert as Scefi
- Oliver Johnston as Father Livoni
- Malcolm Keen as Bishop Guido
A. H. Weiler of The New York Times wrote that "as a motion picture dependent on the dramatic conflict and exciting incidents that surely were synonymous with the emergence of such a towering man in such tumultuous times, it is as serene and static as ancient tapestries, limp on castle walls ... There are frictions here, of course, but these are gentle affairs that are not especially memorable."
Variety wrote "The absence of sustained dramatic friction and a reluctance to grapple with conflicts and climaxes in visual terms results in an aura of absolute serenity and a characteristic of ponderous verbosity that may be true in spirit, tone and tempo to the tale of supreme devotion being told, but is unlikely to prove sufficiently palatable to modern audience tastes."
Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times stated "The treatment is reverent and apparently unusually faithful to history, the color and CinemaScope production often eye-filling and the performances, while hardly exceptional, will hardly raise dissent. But the picture's appeal is limited decidedly to the devout and to those who would seek serene affirmation of their Christian faith. It is what I call a church film, pure and simple—ecclesiastical and eclectic."
Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post reported that "I kept regretting the firm had three million dollars to lavish on the project. The result may please those willing to settle for a saint's biography. Apart from some individual scenes of pictorial appeal, I found the attempt unimaginative and flat. There is in it none of that sense of wonder which distinguished Pierre Fresnay's memorable 'Monsieur Vincent,' a simple French essay in black and white."
Harrison's Reports gave the film a grade of "Fair" and wrote that "Catholics and those strongly interested in religious themes will be about the only ones deriving much satisfaction from this CinemaScope-Color account of the life of St. Francis. For this superficial treatment is almost devoid of action and suspense, while being too talky."
The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote "With its lepers, its desert rendezvous with a sheik and its deep-seated bitterness between the hero and his irreligious rival, this expensive slab of hagiolatry might well be described as Ben-Hur without the chariot race. As it turns out there is precious little action or dramatic friction of any kind (Piero Portalupi's camera studiously avoids every challenging incident), only a ponderously serene screenplay and a stolidly passionless cast directed without a spark of imagination by Michael Curtiz."
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p253
- Solomon p 228. Please note figures are rentals.
- Atik, Chiara (February 27, 2014). "Nun who kissed Elvis returns to Hollywood". TODAY.com. Archived from the original on March 23, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
- "Francis of Assisi (1961) - Michael Curtiz - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
- Weiler, A. H. (July 29, 1961). "Screen: Religious Drama". The New York Times. 8.
- "Film Reviews: Francis of Assisi". Variety. July 12, 1961. 6.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (July 21, 1961). "'Francis of Assisi' Reverent in Mood". Los Angeles Times. Part II, p. 9.
- Coe, Richard L. (July 27, 1961). "St. Francis By Dim Light". The Washington Post. D11.
- "Francis of Assisi". Harrison's Reports. July 22, 1961. 114.
- "Francis of Assissi". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 28 (332): 128. September 1961.