Cast & Crew
In December of 1428, sixteen-year-old Joan D'Arc, the daughter of a French farmer, prays intently in a church, listening carefully to the "holy voices" in her head. Later, at her home in Domremy, in the province of Lorraine, Joan listens to her embittered father Jacques and uncle, Durand Laxart, discussing the English takeover of France and the traitorous collusion of the Burgundians. Joan then learns that her younger brother Pierre has been plagued by a recurring dream in which he sees her leaving home at the head of an army. Feeling that Pierre's dream is a divine sign, Joan decides to follow the instructions of her holy voices and heads for Vaucouleurs to meet with Sir Robert de Baudricourt, the governor. When Joan asks the governor to take her to see the Dauphin, Charles, because God has sent her to "save France," Baudricourt dismisses her with a laugh. As Baudricourt is leaving Vaucouleurs, however, Joan warns him that a disastrous battle between the French and the English is about to take place in nearby Orleans. Later, while Joan waits for the governor's return, a soldier tells her about a prophesy that has been circulating throughout the countryside, which states that a maid from Lorraine is destined to save France. As soon as Baudricourt returns to Vaucouleurs, he reveals that Joan's prediction regarding Orleans proved accurate and orders a priest to examine her. After the priest declares Joan pious and pure, Baudricourt sends her to see the Dauphin in Chinon. Escorted by Jean de Metz, a knight, and Betrand de Poulengy, a squire, Joan makes her way to the Dauphin's court. There, the weak-willed Dauphin, who is content to trade French land for English gold, attempts to fool Joan by placing his crown on the court poet's head and hiding himself among the ladies. Although she has never seen Charles, Joan immediately senses the ruse and picks the real Dauphin out of the crowd. Unnerved, the Dauphin tells Joan that he is unworthy of the crown, but she insists that it is God's will that he become king. As proof of her piety, Joan reveals to Charles in private things about himself that "only he and God" would know. Inspired by Joan's faith, Charles orders that an army be assembled, with the peasant girl as its spiritual leader. The Dauphin's confidence is quickly shaken by his self-serving underlings, however, and after three weeks, the army has not moved from Chinon. Once again, Joan uses her simple faith to convince the Dauphin to act and is soon on the battlefield with her soldiers. To prepare for battle, Joan insists that the men go to confession and not swear, gamble or indulge in camp followers. The soldiers at first rebel against Joan's restrictions, but when she tells them that "our strength is in our faith" and encourages them to become "God's army," they change their ways. Before attacking the palace at Orleans, which the English now control, Joan approaches the British commander, Sir William Glasdale, to negotiate a peaceful surrender. Glasdale balks at Joan's warnings, however, and calls her a "strumpet" and a "witch." Turned away by Glasdale, Joan and her captains order the army to storm the palace. During the fierce contest, Joan is shot in the shoulder by an English archer and is carried back to the French camp. Although weak and groggy, Joan soon returns to the embattled palace and fights her way to the roof, where she sees Glasdale fall to a fiery death. The French soon capture the palace, but Joan is too overwhelmed by the destruction of war to celebrate her victory. Despite her misgivings, however, Joan continues to lead the French army in a series of battles, reclaiming much of the country from the English. Joan's dream is further realized after the Dauphin is crowned king, but when the Burgundians, who fear that Joan's army will take Paris, their last stronghold, buy peace from Charles for 100,000 crowns, Joan feels betrayed. Then, after Joan threatens to tell the people about Charles' deal with the Burgundians, she is dismissed from the army. Despairing, Joan seeks spiritual guidance in a church, but finds that her "voices" have fallen silent. Finally, Joan organizes her own army and heads for Paris. While defending a fort at Compiegne, however, Joan is arrested by the English, who then sell her to the Count-Bishop of Beauvais, a Burgundian, for 10,000 pounds. Anxious to be rid of Joan, the Burgundians and the English plot to force her execution by accusing her of heresy. During the first part of her lengthy trial in Rouen, Joan is questioned in public by a panel of judges and, insisting that she is a prisoner of the English, not the church, skillfully defends herself against their accusations. Concerned about the positive impression Joan is making, the court closes the trial to the public and attempts to wear her down with questions about her voices, her mission and her manly attire. Joan's defiant piety eventually causes her one defender, Jean Le Maistre, the Inquisitor of Rouen, to turn against her, and she is found guilty of heresy. As part of her public ex-communication, Joan is encouraged to abjure and is promised life in a woman's prison if she does. Terrified of dying at the stake, an exhausted Joan reluctantly signs a declaration of abjuration. When she is returned to her male-guarded cell, however, Joan realizes that she has been duped and, finally hearing her heavenly voices again, renounces her abjuration. The condemned peasant is then sentenced to die at the stake, but as flames and smoke engulf her, Joan is comforted by the sight of a cross and mutters the words, "Let none be hurt for me."
J. Carrol Naish
Francis L. Sullivan
Tom Brown Henry
Robert E. Burns
Jean La Vell
Harry Hays Morgan
Stella Le Saint
J. W. Cody
Bob St. Angelo
Father Paul Doncoeur
Roger Wagner Choir
Wm. V. Skall
Dale Van Sickle
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Music, Original or Comedy Series
Best Supporting Actor
Joan of Arc (1948)
Guided by the voices that have spoken to her since she was thirteen, Jeanne travels from her home in Lorraine, at their instruction. The voices have commanded her to lead the French Dauphin Charles VII (Jose Ferrer)--and prophesied future king of France--in battle against the British, first in Orleans but then in successive victories that rally the French people around Jeanne during the Hundred Years War.
But Jeanne's growing stature--a threat to the monarchy--and the king's greed lead Charles to trade French autonomy for money. He makes a deal with the British, who then capture Jeanne, imprisoning her and subjecting her to a farcical trial whose only goal, despite the semblance of fairness, is to burn Jeanne at the stake as a heretic. The trial is led by the corrupt, politically motivated Pierre Cauchon (Francis L. Sullivan) who harangues and tortures Jeanne until she is nearly broken. But even her British persecutors cannot stop Jeanne from achieving sainthood with her immortality assured when she is burned at the stake.
Director Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, both 1939) was well versed in film spectacles, and did an especially impressive job in the epic battle sequences that give his Joan of Arc its rousing properties. According to film scholar Robin Blaetz in Visions of the Maid, the film's financier, RKO Pictures, insisted upon "spears and swords and flames and blood and horses and banners and roughhouse and armor," which Fleming delivered in spades. The famous burning at the stake took place on the RKO medieval set for the 1939 The Hunchback of Notre Dame, according to Michael Sragow's Victor Fleming: An American Movie Master. It was Fleming's last picture and also independent producer Walter Wanger's attempt at age fifty-two to make "the crowning glory of his career" according to author Matthew Bernstein. It was a film Wanger conceived of as "a spiritual blockbuster," created under the auspices of Sierra Pictures by Wanger, Bergman, Fleming and Bergman's husband Petter Lindstrom.
Ingrid Bergman said that one of her life goals was to play Joan of Arc and in keeping with that ambition, she delivers a remarkably poignant, emotionally overflowing Joan in Fleming's production. Bergman had worked with Fleming before on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941). When he contacted Bergman about playing Joan, Fleming was 62, with a drinking problem and a heart condition to boot, an already complicated situation further stoked by the prolonged affair the distinguished director and his lead actress engaged in during the making of Joan of Arc. Fleming was as infatuated with Bergman the star as with Bergman the woman. "Ingrid's like a Notre Dame quarterback" he cooed. "An onlooker can't take his eyes off her!" (from Notorious, Donald Spoto's biography of Bergman).
Bergman later expressed thanks that her Joan would finally reach the screen. "All my life I dreamed of playing her" she told Look magazine. "She became the character I liked to play most. She, too, was a timid child, but with great dignity and courage," Spoto recounts. At the time she came on board for Joan of Arc, Bergman was at the peak of her popularity, appearing in Spellbound (1945), Saratoga Trunk (1945), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) and Notorious (1946). She was, along with her The Bells of St. Mary's co-star Bing Crosby, the top box office attraction of 1946. The role was memorable for Bergman on many levels. Whenever she would return to France custom officials would inevitably greet her with "Ah, Jeanne d'Arc--welcome home."
The Joan of Arc story was first conceived as a vehicle for Jennifer Jones by producer David O. Selznick and at one point George Cukor and Katharine Hepburn were bandied about as a possible director and star. "Despite Anderson's objections that it would make the film seem like a schoolbook assignment (exactly what it turned out to be), Sierra officially bought the title Joan of Arc from Selznick for $25,000." (from Victor Fleming by Michael Sragow).
Based on Maxwell Anderson's hit play which opened on Broadway in 1946 starring Ingrid Bergman (who won a Best Actress Tony for her performance), the screenplay for Joan of Arc was a distinct challenge for Anderson. There were script troubles galore, from debate about whether or not to include Joan's voices in the script, to the increasing role Bergman intended to play in shaping the script. Worried about the translation of Anderson's vision from stage to screen, Fleming and Wanger brought screenwriter Andrew Solt onto the project. Solt had just realized enormous success for his work on the Mervyn LeRoy comedy Without Reservations (1946). Additional precautions were taken by the film's producers in handling the delicate religious material, especially its scathing depiction of the Catholic power structure of the time. Fearful of what the Legion of Decency and the Production Code officials would have to say about the film's pillorying of Joan's religious inquisitors, Fleming and Wanger employed a French Jesuit scholar Father Doncoeur to serve as consultant on the film.
Unfortunately for Wanger, Bergman and Fleming, Joan of Arc was not a great success; it was deemed too long and too expensive to recoup the staggering investment in post-war America's shaky economy, of $4.5 million dollars. Though the film was a box-office bomb, it yielded advantages for some involved in the production. The movie was a boon to Jose Ferrer as the memorably weaselly Dauphin, who found his role helped advance his career as an actor and director. "I chose him," said Fleming, "not only because he approximates a physical resemblance to the character, but because I knew he would attack the part with more enthusiasm than some actor who wished to return home to the swimming pool," biographer Sragow recounts. And the striking tunics and leggings designed for Joan of Arc by Barbara Karinska resulted in the first-ever Academy Award winner for costume design. The film also secured cinematographer Winton Hoch's reputation, gaining him a Best Cinematography Oscar® alongside the top-ranking Joseph Valentine. Hoch went on to a partnership with John Ford and a second Oscar® for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). In total, Joan of Arc was nominated for seven Academy Awards, though it won just those two.
Fleming died four months after the release of Joan of Arc, in January 1949 of heart failure which some attributed to an after effect of traumatic dental surgery. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote of Bergman "while handsome to look on, has no great spiritual quality. Her strength seems to lie in her physique rather than her burning faith." And The Los Angeles Daily News jeered "Joan of Arc sprawls awkwardly, in episodic lumps."
Producer: Walter Wanger
Director: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: Maxwell Anderson (screenplay and play); Andrew Solt (screenplay)
Cinematography: Winton Hoch, W. V. Skall (Technicolor photographer); Joseph Valentine (director of photography)
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Film Editing: Frank Sullivan
Cast: Ingrid Bergman (Joan of Arc), Francis L. Sullivan (Pierre Cauchon, Count-Bishop of Beauvais), J. Carrol Naish (John, Count of Luxembourg, Joan's captor), Ward Bond (La Hire), Shepperd Strudwick (Father Massieu, Joan's bailiff), Gene Lockhart (Georges de la Trémouille), John Emery (Jean - Duke d'Alencon), Leif Erickson (Dunois, Bastard of Orleans), Cecil Kellaway (Jean le Maistre, Inquisitor of Rouen), José Ferrer (The Dauphin, Charles VII, later King of France).
by Felicia Feaster
Joan of Arc (1948)
Joan of Arc on DVD
What historical role for a woman could be grander than Joan Of Arc? The story of the young French maid who would rise to lead France's army during the Hundred Years' War, burned at the stake as a heretic, then canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church would seem to lend itself to the epic nature of the movies. However, of the many movie versions of Joan's story, only one, Dreyer's The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928) is considered a classic and all of them failed at the box office. Bergman's Joan would be no exception.
The picture was based on Maxwell Anderson's play Joan of Lorraine in which Bergman, taking a break from Hollywood, had starred in on Broadway during the 1946-1947 season. Victor Fleming, director of two of 1939's greatest movies, Gone With The Wind and The Wizard Of Oz, attended one of the shows. At the time he was looking for an epic to rival his previous classics and decided to immortalize Bergman's performance in a film version.
With the help of independent producer Walter Wanger, Fleming produced a two-and-a-half hour Technicolor epic covering the life of the French teenager from her first calling to her death. The color was gorgeous, the cast large and beautifully attired and the subject approached with great solemnity. Audiences, however, were not impressed.
For one, although Ingrid Bergman was acceptable as Joan on stage, on screen and in close up the 33-year old actress seemed a bit too mature to play a girl almost half her age. Also, although the costumes were expensive, the sets were not. Scenes of the French Army in camp and a major battle scene were all shot on soundstages giving the production the cramped look of a B-movie. The pacing as well left audiences bored. Despite winning Oscars® for color cinematography and costume design, Joan Of Arc received a second roasting from the critics with the Harvard Lampoon, in their yearly bad movie awards, giving the film a special award for Worst Picture of the Century.
Time has only partially improved on the low opinion of this movie reviewers had upon its release. Joan of Arc may not be a riveting presentation of the saint's life, but it is a gorgeous film, shot in the ultra-color saturation that could only be achieved with three-strip Technicolor. Jewelry, sunsets and armor leap from the screen in their intensity. Plus, in addition to the color, there is the face of Ingrid Bergman, a great beauty then at her height of loveliness.
Image Entertainment's DVD presents Joan of Arc in its original 146 road show length restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. They have done a marvelous job of re-aligning the original three pieces of film that made up the movie's negative. Just as an example of how gorgeous Hollywood color film could look in the 1940's, Joan of Arc deserves a look.
For more information about Joan of Arc, visit Image Entertainment. To order Joan of Arc, go to TCM Shopping.
by Brian Cady
Joan of Arc on DVD
If you are the Maid and I don't say that you are- but if you are, I have a message from the people of Clervaux. It's this, go with God and save France. Save France and save our people.- Constable of Clervaux
A mother raises her children and thinks she knows them well, but she doesn't know them at all.- Isabelle d'Arc
We need some more faggots for the fire.- Thierache, her Executioner'
Go...Child of God...Daughter of France....go!- Father Massieu
My gentle Dauphin, it is you I seek, for I have come a long way to find you and no other can take your place. God has spoken to me through His messengers, and it is His will that I come to aid you and that you be King of France.- Joan of Arc
This film was considered a dream project of Ingrid Bergman, who had tried for years to have it produced.
According to some biographies of Ingrid Bergman, Howard Hughes saved Bergman from possible injury during a visit to the set when she fell off her horse. He caught her, but rather awkwardly, with one hand firmly on her crotch. Hughes made sure no photographs of the incident were taken (or survived).
The working titles of this film were The Life of Joan of Arc, Joan of Lorraine and Joan. For its general release in September 1950, Joan of Arc was cut from 145 minutes to 100 minutes. Although a print of the shortened version was viewed, the above summary includes scenes from the longer version, as described in the film's cutting continuity, which was deposited with copyright records in October 1948. [The long version was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archives in 1998.] In the onscreen credits, actor Ethan Laidlaw's name is misspelled "Laidlow." The picture opens with a brief prologue depicting Joan of Arc's canonization in 1920. A voice-over narration then introduces Joan as an historical figure and provides other historical background information. The voice-over narration is used sporadically throughout the film.
As depicted in the film, Joan of Arc, a farmer's daughter, was born in Domremy, Lorraine, France, in 1412. She first described hearing "voices" when she was twelve years old and, by the time she was sixteen, appeared before the military commandant at Vaucouleurs and persuaded him to guide her to the Dauphin in Bourges. In May 1429, Joan led an army to Orleans and forced the English to withdraw their troops. Two months later, Joan convinced the Dauphin to be crowned king in Rheims. Joan was captured on May 23, 1430 and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. In 1456, she was officially proclaimed innocent, and in 1909, she was beatified under Pope Piux X. Joan of Arc was canonized in 1920, during the papacy of Benedict XV.
Contemporary news items and press releases add the following information about the production: As early as January 1940, David O. Selznick announced plans to produce a "Joan of Arc" picture starring Ingrid Bergman. By January 1946, however, Jennifer Jones was being considered for the role, and Selznick eventually abandoned all plans to make the picture. A Technicolor biography, titled St. Joan and starring Kit Cornell, was being considered in August 1944 by Gabriel Pascal. In April 1947, as a result of her highly touted performance in Maxwell Anderson's successful play, Joan of Lorraine, Bergman, along with producer Walter Wanger and director Victor Fleming, formed Sierra Pictures, Inc. to make a screen version of the saint's life. Although the filmmakers announced that the film would not be an adaptation of the play, which focused on a troupe of actors putting on a production of Joan of Arc, Anderson was hired to write the script, and his play is listed as a source in the onscreen credits. The Technicolor picture was budgeted at four million dollars and was to be released by M-G-M. Charles Bickford was announced as a possible male lead in July 1947. (In May 1947, Alexander Korda announced that he was dropping plans to make a dual-language version of Joan of Arc because of competition from the Sierra production. Korda's French language version was to have starred Michele Morgan.)
In mid-September 1947, after two months of delay for script revisions on the Sierra project, M-G-M bowed out because it could not come to an agreement with Sierra concerning profit sharing. According to the doomed 166-page deal between Sierra and M-G-M, Bergman was to have gotten the biggest share of the film's profits, with Fleming second and Wanger third. RKO took over as the film's distributor and secondary backer in September 1947, refunding M-G-M $200,000 for costs already incurred. The principal backer was Bankers Trust Company of New York, which gave Sierra a 3.5 million dollar loan. RKO assumed the negative completion cost of approximately $1,100,000.
José Ferrer made his screen acting debut in Joan of Arc, which also marked the last feature film appearance of longtime actress Irene Rich (1891-1988). The production, which included a seven-month research period, was shot primarily at the Hal Roach Studios. It was touted as the biggest "costume show" since Selznick's 1939 epic Gone With the Wind, and reportedly required the biggest casting call in ten years. (Press releases claim that 4,300 extras were used.) A pre-production news item noted that the Library of Congress and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York "cooperated" on the film's research. Technical advisor Father Paul Doncoeur was a French priest, editor of the Jesuit weekly Étude and a leading expert on the life of Joan of Arc, while Henry Noerdlinger, who advised on costumes and customs, was a medieval expert. Ruth Roberts, who is credited on screen as a researcher, was Bergman's language coach.
To construct 150 custom-made aluminum suits of armor, each of which weighed approximately ten pounds, artist Noel Howard collaborated with boat builder Fred Wilken. Howard also worked with Leonard Heinrich, armorer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to build Bergman's white armor, which weighed fifteen pounds and required 500 hours of construction time. Because California horses were deemed too small for the battle sequences, horses were shipped from Iowa for the production. Second-unit director Richard Rosson oversaw the battle and palace-storming scenes, most of which were shot in Southern California's San Fernando Valley. In Balboa, CA, 150 acres of land were drained to reproduce the marshland battlefield of Compiegne. The stake-burning scene was shot at the RKO Ranch in Encino, CA, and used the same "Old Market Square at Rouen" set seen in RKO's 1947 picture Miracle of the Bells, which featured film-within-a-film "Joan of Arc" scenes . The imitation stone cathedral front used in RKO's 1940 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also employed for this picture. In late October 1947, production was shut down for ten days due to Fleming's bout with the flu. Added scenes were shot in mid-February 1948. Shortly after the film's premiere in November 1948, Fleming died of a heart attack. Joan of Arc was his last picture.
After a test audience reacted negatively to the title Joan of Lorraine, RKO decided to change the title, but had to negotiate for rights to Joan of Arc, as several studios, including Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox, as well as Selznick, had prior claims to it. In addition to the generous budget, which eventually topped $4,600,000, the film was awarded over one million dollars for advertising. Bergman participated in a publicity tour for the picture that followed the journey Joan of Arc made through France. The "star-studded" Los Angeles opening of the picture was a benefit for the Marion Davies Foundation Clinic, while proceeds from the October 1949 Parisian opening went toward the rebuilding of the Jeanne d'Arc Museum in Orleans, which was destroyed during World War II. For the film's general release, Joan's saintly voices were dubbed into the sound track. Although Joan of Arc enjoyed an extensive roadshow run, playing some 3,000 engagements, and performed well in some cities and overseas, it was not a box office success in the U.S. As of December 1951, the film had grossed six million dollars, three million less than was needed to cover production and distribution costs.
In her autobiography, Ingrid Bergman relates the following information about the production: During rehearsals of the Broadway production of Joan of Lorraine, Bergman persuaded Anderson to add details about Joan of Arc's life, some of which were taken from the original transcripts of the Rouen trial. For the film, Bergman and her collaborators continued to strive for historical accuracy: "What we tried to do in the movie was the real Joan, from the documents and the trial, the girl who went out onto the battlefield and cried when she saw the terrible horror of medieval battle." In addition to Father Doncoeur, Bergman recalls that American priest Father J. J. Devlin worked as a technical advisor on the film.
Joan of Arc received many Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actor (Ferrer); Best Actress, Best Art Direction; Best Editing; and Best Musical Score. It won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design (Color). Although Wanger was awarded a special statuette for "distinguished service to the industry in adding to its moral stature in the world community by his production of the picture Joan of Arc," he refused to accept the honor in protest of the film's absence in the Best Picture category. The film also won awards in France, Belgium and Spain. Harvard Lampoon, however, singled out Joan of Arc as the "worst film of the century" on their 1949 "worst film" list. In February 1950, New York Times reported that because of Bergman's much-publicized romantic relationship with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, the MPAA deleted her Joan of Arc death scene from an "all-industry" compilation film, which was made to highlight Hollywood's historical pictures. In 1953, Bergman appeared in Joan of Arc at the Stake, an oratorio by Paul Claudel and Arthur Honegger, directed in Italy by Rossellini.
Many films featuring Joan of Arc have been made, including a 1913 Italian film directed by Nino Oxilia, starring Maria Jacobini Savoia; Joan the Woman, a 1916 Cardinal Film Corp. release, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Geraldine Farrar (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2284); a 1928 French film entitled La passion de Jeanne d'Arc, directed by Carl Dreyer, starring Renee Falconetti; a 1957 United Artists release entitled Saint Joan, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Jean Seberg; and a 1962 French film entitled Le proces de Jeanne d'Arc, directed by Robert Bresson, starring Florence Carrez (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1960-70; F6.5170). Joan of Arc, a Canadian television production directed by Christian Duguay and starring Leelee Sobieski, was broadcast on CBS in May 1999; that same year, Columbia Pictures released the French-made film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, directed by Luc Besson and starring Milla Jovovich.
Released in United States Summer September 2, 1950
Released in United States Summer September 2, 1950