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Saint Joan

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

"The story of Joan of Arc," historian Andre Maurois wrote, "is at once the most amazing miracle in history and the most logical sequence of political acts." But the church court trying the teenage girl saw neither divine intervention nor uncommon acumen in her astonishing triumphs. It saw heresy - and death by fire.
Seventeen-year-old Jean Seberg plays the visionary Maid of Orleans in Otto Preminger's production of Saint Joan, adapted from George Bernard Shaw's play by Graham Greene and cast with a company of bravura talents. Richard Widmark turns his tough-guy persona on its head to play a Dauphin more court jester than future king. And stately John Gielgud is the English commander who scoffs: "The angels may be on the side of the church - but I have 800 soldiers."

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Widmark, Richard Todd, Anton Walbrook, Jean Seberg, John Gielgud
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: OTTO
  • DVD Release Date: May 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ODIV0Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,774 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Gorey on June 19, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Otto Preminger's stagy retelling of the Joan of Arc history/legend was pilloried on its release, and Jean Seberg's performance roasted (no pun intended). Seen today, the film is a stylized, often uneven, but worthwhile experience. Seberg is rough around the edges, but contrary to popular myth, isn't the shameful embarrassment critics made her out to be. Much worse is Richard Widmark's Dauphin, a cringe-worthy contribution to an otherwise stately, literate, and entertaining adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play. The movie feels much like a television production from the same era: the crispness of the black and white images and the curiously flat nature of the settings and costumes mark it as something less than the typical fifties wide-screen epic, and something more than the typical "Playhouse 90" offerings of the period. Fans of Seberg will want to see the film: this edition is from the "Warner Archive" DVD releases, and as such is given the bare-bones treatment: no commentaries, no "making of" features, and a print that appears cropped from the original (Cinemascope?) version seen in theaters. I've had some playable issues with other Warner Archive editions: this DVD played well on three players, without skipping or stopping. No masterpiece, but time has been kind to the film, and to Seberg's contribution. Interesting to compare this version to the silent, Dreyer version, and the oddball Technicolor Victor Fleming film (1948), with a too-old Ingrid Bergman. Joan's story is filled with contradictions, betrayals, and turnabouts, and this film version recreates most of them in a compelling, stylized, and sometimes clumsy way. Should you buy the DVD? Well, not if you've been holding out for a special edition with commentaries and documentaries, but the print is clean, and this may be the only way to see Preminger's film for a while.
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By A Customer on September 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Director Otto Preminger's stab at the George Bernard Shaw play was pilloried for the miscasting of Jean Seberg in the title role, but she's hardly the sole reason why this well-intentioned film version doesn't work. Richard Widmark gives one of his silliest screen performances as the Dauphin, and many of the smaller roles are quite hammily portrayed as well.
Still, this VHS version does include a very well-made behind-the-scenes featurette (for once, you don't have to have a DVD player to enjoy this sort of extra). SAINT JOAN is still worth seeing, if only to appreciate how much more confident an actress Seberg would become in BONJOUR TRISTESSE (also directed by Preminger) and, of course, in Godard's BREATHLESS.
(And if you're a fan of this movie or of Seberg in general, don't miss Mark Rappaport's amazing un-documentary FROM THE JOURNALS OF JEAN SEBERG.)
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Format: DVD
Otto Preminger's "Saint Joan" was based upon George Bernard Shaw's play and adapted by Graham Greene and is indeed flawed but must be remembered for the highlights it does hold. His discovery after a much publicized search for a leading lady and the finding of Jean Seberg who is a stellar Joan. Others in the cast, John Gielgud, Richard Todd, Anton Walbrook, Harry Andrews and Richard Widmark (the critical lambasting he received is less that it doesn't work as he is integral to Otto's movie version) are fine. The times the movie seems inept (except for the costumes which look uncomfortable), the movie makes up for in genuinely rich vision. Otto keeps his love for Shaw's play in earnest. The fact that poor Jean Seberg was nearly seriously burnt when the initial igniting of the fires during her scene of being burned at the stake is again evidence of the hard work and impressive debut she gave. The music by Mischa Spoliansky is complementary and Saul Bass's titles are again a work of genius. But Otto the showman, (producer and director) (as a director Otto was always efficient, usually bringing in his pictures nearly under budget) provides another classic to a career of consistently fine films. It is my favorite depiction of St. Joan's story. (Mark Twain's "Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc" is another although unfilmed). I wish Otto were alive and working still. The Warner Archive DVD is as usual an excellent edition and well worth it.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The performances aren't universally good, but this is the only cinematic treatment of one of Shaw's most engaging plays and so is worth the time spent. The adaption is often perceptive and witty, with some genuine poignancy that cuts through Seberg's rather dull reading of France's most heroic and famous saint and martyr and Widmark's seriously campy Dauphin. The staging is very static and those looking for battle spectacle or any portrayal of Joan's very real military exploits will be disappointed. It is Shaw's apt observations on the human condition, put into the mouths of characters like Joan, Charles, and Warwick, that shine most brilliantly in Saint Joan.

One note on the DVD edition that might surprise others -- this disc leaves out the contemporary "Making Of" feature that was included as a bonus on the VHS version released long ago. It's a shame this was not included on the DVD -- there are no bonus features, in fact, not even subtitles. You'd think this would bring down the price, but no such luck -- a premium price charged for a bare-bones release, so make your purchasing decision accordingly.
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