• 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


    Saturday, November 27, 2021

    10 things you didn't know about... 'The Bible on Film'

    Richard H. Campbell and Michael R. Pitts' seminal book "The Bible on Film: A Checklist 1897-1980" was published 40 years ago today. So to mark the occasion, here are ten facts you (probably) didn't know about this ground-breaking work:

    1. Only 1,000 copies of the book were ever published. The authors made 75 cents a copy.

    2. There were a number of significant errors with the final manuscript, including the accidental exclusion of the book's final paragraph which mentioned biblical comedies (like Bedazzled) and a last line that read  'with all these new biblical films being made, it is obvious that THE BIBLE ON FILM, like THE BIBLE itself, is forever'. 

    Other omissions resulted in a rather negative review for a film the author "really liked", The Gospel Road (1973), and left the plot for The Story of Jacob and Joseph (1974) not quite making sense.

    3. Campbell began writing the book in 1977 when he was just 18, but didn't get a contract for it until 1980 when he was 21. It came out the following year.

    4. Alongside writing the book Campbell also worked part-time as a hospital janitor, wrote TV episode guide for fanzines and self-published a Godzilla fan letter. He also had major surgery for cancer. When the book was finally published in 1981 he was still only 22 and had started attending Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. 

    5. In contrast, Michael R. Pitts was 34 when the book came out and had already worked as a high school history teacher, a public relations director and as a lecturer on film history. He wrote his first book "The Great Spy Pictures" with James R. Parish in 1974, having begun writing aged 12.

    6. The book is dedicated it to "Toby".
    Toby was Campbell's cat!

    7. In total Pitts contributed to 29 books, thirteen of which he co-wrote with James R. Parish, and a further seventeen with Scarecrow. His other books covered films about detectives, spies, gangsters as well as covering westerns and sci-fi. 

    8. Pitts's most successful book, though, was "Horror Film Stars" which was also published in 1981. It gained a third edition in 2002.

    9. Campbell was listed as a member of the Irving Forbush Appreciation Society. This was a joke the author made up in tribute to the Marvel comic book character Irving Forbush and his alter ego Forbush Man. 

    10. As the above suggests, Campbell was huge fan of comic books, even back then. He wrote this book but every publisher rejected it, saying there would never be any interest in the subject...

    You can read my exclusive interview with Richard H. Campbell here. Some information about Michael R. Pitts has been sourced from encyclopedia.com. My own book, "100 Bible Films", is being published in May.

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