• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Gideon Films

    Back in 2006 I reviewed a half hour film Gideon: The Liberator from 1958. At the time I wrote that as far as I knew there had only been two films ever made about Gideon, that one and a 1965 film known variously as Great Leaders of the Bible:Gideon, Gideon and Samson, or I Grandi Condottieri (pictured).

    However, my good friend Peter Chattaway sent me a couple of links the other day relating to two other Gideon films. Firstly, and most excitingly is details on the IMDb of Gideon (1971) which stars Peter Ustinov and Jose Ferrer. Both have pedigree in biblical films and are well regarded actors in their own right. On of Ustinov's roles was as Herod the Great in Jesus of Nazareth which, incidentally also starred Gideon and Samson's Fernando Rey as Gasper. I've not been able to find out much about this film. It was a TV movie based on a successful Broadway play by Paddy Chayefsky. The director was 5 time Emmy award winner George Schaefer, who also directed a 1961 TV film called Give us Barabbas (unrelated to the Anthony Quinn film).

    It's currently got 9.8 out of 10 at the IMDb, although given that it's based on a mere 9 votes that means very little. According to Wikipedia it was a "90-minute Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation on NBC" which "aired in the United States on Friday, March 26, 1971". The play itself was reviewed by Time Magazine in 1961. You can view a photo of Ustinov in the role of Gideon at eBay at the moment as it's currently on sale.

    A quick scan of Google turns up a few other minor details. According to this page, two quotes appear from the film appear at the start of Criminal Minds. Ustinov (as Gideon) says "Unfortunately, a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares." and Eugene Ionesco (not even in the cast list at IMDb says "Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together". It appears to be unavailable on DVD, and no-one seems to have loaded it up anywhere else either.

    In searching for information on Gideon films, I also came across another title which at first appeared to be a separate film for sale at Amazon, and supposedly starring Sergio Ammirata and Barta Barri. No such film appears on either of their IMDb entries, and the picture on Amazon is taken from Gideon and Samson. There is quite an array of DVD releases of Gideon and Samson so it seems likely that this is simply another one of those rather than a new title.

    Lastly there is the animated take on the story from Veggie Tales. Gideon Tuba Warrior was released in 2006 and is about 45 minutes long and it somehow links the story in with that of George Muller.

    So that's still only four, possibly five titles for Gideon, the most promising of which may never again see the light of day. I'll hopefully find the time to watch Gideon and Samson at some point and report back.



    • At 8:13 pm, October 02, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I remember the 1971 "Gideon" on Hallmark Hall of Fame as one of my most favorite TV films of all time. Hallmark has many of their productions on DVD, but I've never seen this one available. To this day whenever I read about Gideon in Judges I always see stumbling awkward Peter Ustinov as God calls him "thou mighty man of valor"!

    • At 3:02 pm, October 04, 2010, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for the verification and extra info. Perhaps this will get released one day. I hope so.


    • At 2:31 am, December 01, 2010, Anonymous Bonnie said…

      I, too, have looked for this 1971 "Gideon" program with zero success. I even wrote Peter Ustinov a few years back to ask about it, and his personal assistant was kind enough to write me back, but they didn't have a copy of it, either. :( Since there seem to be quite a few fans who remember this program, I'm encouraged to keep looking for it!

    • At 10:21 pm, April 01, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

      I have been searching for this Hallmark Hall of Fame episode for years! I remember my 82 year old dad and I watching it together and just crying from laughing so hard at the great performances of Peter Ustinov and Jose Ferrer. I'd love to know if anyone ever locates a taped or recorded version! couturier.anne@yahoo.com

    • At 12:14 pm, April 05, 2011, Blogger Matt Page said…

      Thanks for your comments on this film. If I ever hear about it being available I'll post news of it up here. I would also love to see it.



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