The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

140 mins | Melodrama | 8 October 1965

Director:

Carol Reed

Producer:

Carol Reed

Cinematographer:

Leon Shamroy

Production Designer:

John De Cuir

Production Company:

International Classics
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HISTORY

According to a 3 Jan 1962 DV news story, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. paid $125,000 for John Patrick to adapt Irving Stone’s bestselling novel The Agony and the Ecstasy about the life of Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Burt Lancaster was reportedly the first actor interested in the leading role, but items in the 22 Mar 1962 DV and 17 Apr 1963 LAT indicated that the studio also extended offers to Richard Burton and Marlon Brando before Charlton Heston signed on the following year. During this time, Philip Dunne stepped in for Patrick to write the script, for which he received “screenplay and screen story by” credit. The 29 Mar 1965 DV reported that Irving Stone filed a Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration to contest this decision, but the ruling was upheld because Dunne’s treatment of the characters had been “almost totally revamped” from the source material.
       The 19 Nov 1963 and 6 Dec 1963 DV noted that Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti and Peter Glenville were originally considered to direct, while the 27 Dec 1963 edition suggested that Irina Demick was in talks to portray one of Michelangelo’s models. Once director Carol Reed joined the project in early 1964, casting proceeded with the hiring of Rex Harrison, who received $500,000 to appear as “Pope Julius II,” according to the 21 Jan 1964 DV. Film castings in the 15 Jul 1964 and 4 Aug 1964 editions claimed that roles were given to Giovanna Cilento (sister of “Contessina de’ Medici” actress Diane Cilento) and Robert Easton.
       After a brief delay to allow Heston time to rest ... More Less

According to a 3 Jan 1962 DV news story, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. paid $125,000 for John Patrick to adapt Irving Stone’s bestselling novel The Agony and the Ecstasy about the life of Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Burt Lancaster was reportedly the first actor interested in the leading role, but items in the 22 Mar 1962 DV and 17 Apr 1963 LAT indicated that the studio also extended offers to Richard Burton and Marlon Brando before Charlton Heston signed on the following year. During this time, Philip Dunne stepped in for Patrick to write the script, for which he received “screenplay and screen story by” credit. The 29 Mar 1965 DV reported that Irving Stone filed a Writers Guild of America (WGA) arbitration to contest this decision, but the ruling was upheld because Dunne’s treatment of the characters had been “almost totally revamped” from the source material.
       The 19 Nov 1963 and 6 Dec 1963 DV noted that Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti and Peter Glenville were originally considered to direct, while the 27 Dec 1963 edition suggested that Irina Demick was in talks to portray one of Michelangelo’s models. Once director Carol Reed joined the project in early 1964, casting proceeded with the hiring of Rex Harrison, who received $500,000 to appear as “Pope Julius II,” according to the 21 Jan 1964 DV. Film castings in the 15 Jul 1964 and 4 Aug 1964 editions claimed that roles were given to Giovanna Cilento (sister of “Contessina de’ Medici” actress Diane Cilento) and Robert Easton.
       After a brief delay to allow Heston time to rest between projects, principal photography began 1 Jun 1964, as stated in a 24 Jul 1964 DV production chart. Interior and exterior filming took place entirely in Rome, Italy, both on locations and at the new Dino De Laurentiis Studios along the Via Pontina highway. According to a 10 Aug 1965 DV story, the facility boasted the world’s two tallest sound stages (each with an interior height of seventy-two feet), which housed a full-scale recreation of the Sistine Chapel. Although Fox originally planned to display the set at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, the partitions were too large to ship overseas and were eventually destroyed by the studio. A 7 Oct 1964 DV brief announced that production had recently been completed on time, and came in under the $8 million budget.
       A 26 May 1965 DV brief alleged that the final print would be released without an official producer credit even though Fox president Darryl F. Zanuck was responsible for overseeing production. The 11 Dec 1963 DV also indicated that Doc Merman served as an executive production representative under production manager Stanley Hough, but their participation could not be confirmed.
       According to the 23 Jun 1965 Var, the first of several special screenings for educators took place 10 Jun 1965 at Loew’s State Theatre in New York City, with more than 1,800 local school principals and department heads in attendance. The same venue also hosted the world premiere, scheduled for 7 Oct 1965, which benefitted the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 20 Oct 1965 Los Angeles, CA, premiere was held at the Carthay Circle Theatre, with proceeds donated to the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation. Regular screenings began the following day on a reserved-seat basis.
       The Agony and the Ecstasy received Academy Award nominations for Art Direction (Color), Cinematography (Color), Costume Design (Color), Music (Music Score—substantially original), and Sound, as well as Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Rex Harrison) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
22 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
19 Nov 1963
p. 8.
Daily Variety
6 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1964
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 May 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Jul 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1964
p. 8.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1965
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
26 May 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1965
p. 15.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1965
p. 19.
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1965
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
17 Apr 1963
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1965
Section A, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
19 Oct 1965
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1965
Section D, p. 10.
New York Times
9 Oct 1965
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
Screen story & scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
Choral mus comp & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prop master
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone (New York, 1961).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 October 1965
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 7 October 1965
New York opening: 8 October 1965
Los Angeles premiere: 20 October 1965
Los Angeles opening: 21 October 1965
Production Date:
1 June--early October 1964
Copyright Claimant:
International Classics
Copyright Date:
7 October 1965
Copyright Number:
LP32666
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
De Luxe
gauge
35 & 70
Widescreen/ratio
Todd-AO
Duration(in mins):
140
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1508, Pope Julius II, whose army is in constant warfare with neighboring states, has commissioned Michelangelo to create 40 statues for his tomb which is to be located in the new St. Peter's Basilica. The pope later asks Michelangelo to halt work on the tomb and decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but the artist argues that he is not a painter. Nevertheless, he begins at the pope's insistence, but, discouraged by the mediocrity of his drawings, he destroys them and runs away to the marble quarries in the mountains. While there, he sees visions from Genesis and decides to use them for the theme of the ceiling paintings. He returns to Rome and begs the angered pope to allow him to continue his work. Against many obstacles, including an accidental fall and temporary blindness from the dripping paint, progress continues slowly with constant encouragement from Julius. Fearful that he may not return from battle, the pope orders the artist to let him view the unfinished work, but Michelangelo refuses. While Julius is on the battlefield, however, Michelangelo goes to him at the insistence of the Contessina de' Medici and apologizes for his action. When the wounded pope returns to Rome and is believed to be dying, Michelangelo visits him and persuades him to go to the Easter mass in the chapel. At the mass, Julius is awed by the magnificence of the mural; and Michelangelo requests to continue work on the sculptures for the pope's ... +


In 1508, Pope Julius II, whose army is in constant warfare with neighboring states, has commissioned Michelangelo to create 40 statues for his tomb which is to be located in the new St. Peter's Basilica. The pope later asks Michelangelo to halt work on the tomb and decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but the artist argues that he is not a painter. Nevertheless, he begins at the pope's insistence, but, discouraged by the mediocrity of his drawings, he destroys them and runs away to the marble quarries in the mountains. While there, he sees visions from Genesis and decides to use them for the theme of the ceiling paintings. He returns to Rome and begs the angered pope to allow him to continue his work. Against many obstacles, including an accidental fall and temporary blindness from the dripping paint, progress continues slowly with constant encouragement from Julius. Fearful that he may not return from battle, the pope orders the artist to let him view the unfinished work, but Michelangelo refuses. While Julius is on the battlefield, however, Michelangelo goes to him at the insistence of the Contessina de' Medici and apologizes for his action. When the wounded pope returns to Rome and is believed to be dying, Michelangelo visits him and persuades him to go to the Easter mass in the chapel. At the mass, Julius is awed by the magnificence of the mural; and Michelangelo requests to continue work on the sculptures for the pope's tomb. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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