“They did not stop me — nor will anybody.”
In 15th century France, King Charles VII (Richard Widmark) is visited in his dreams by Joan of Arc (Jean Seberg), who burned at the stake for heresy after leading the French army against the English in the siege at Orléans, and then refusing to denounce the voices she heard.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Anton Walbrook Films
- Harry Andrews Films
- Historical Drama
- Jean Seberg Films
- John Gielgud Films
- Otto Preminger Films
- Play Adaptations
- Richard Widmark Films
- Royalty and Nobility
- Strong Females
Otto Preminger purportedly screened 18,000 young women for the central role in his adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s 1923 play, and landed on Iowan would-be starlet Jean Seberg. Unfortunately, Seberg was (unfairly) lambasted for her performance here, though Preminger immediately cast her in his next film, Bonjour Tristesse (1958) — and of course she went on to New Wave stardom in Godard’s Breathless (1960). I haven’t seen or read Shaw’s original play, so can’t comment on its truncation and alteration here, but Grahame Greene’s screenplay flowed just fine for me. Seberg is appropriately earnest as the strong-willed Joan, never letting up on her insistence that she’s being guided by God:
… and she’s surrounded by top-class talent, including John Gielgud as the Earl of Warwick, Felix Aylmer as the Inquisitor, and Anton Walbrook as the Bishop of Beauvais.
The final stake-burning sequence (which apparently accidentally involved real risk) is authentically frightening:
… and the sets and costumes effectively evoke an entirely different time and place. This one isn’t as bad as its reputation would lead you to believe.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Jean Seberg as Joan
- Fine supporting performances across the cast
- Georges Périnal’s cinematography
No, though it’s worth a one-time look.