Joan of Arc (1950)

145 or 150 mins | Biography | 2 September 1950

Director:

Victor Fleming

Producer:

Walter Wanger

Cinematographer:

Joseph Valentine

Editor:

Frank Sullivan

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

Sierra Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Life of Joan of Arc , Joan of Lorraine and Joan . For its general release in Sep 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 Oct 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 23 May 1430 and burned at the stake on 30 May 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 ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Life of Joan of Arc , Joan of Lorraine and Joan . For its general release in Sep 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 Oct 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 23 May 1430 and burned at the stake on 30 May 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 Jan 1940, David O. Selznick announced plans to produce a "Joan of Arc" picture starring Ingrid Bergman. By Jan 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 Aug 1944 by Gabriel Pascal. In Apr 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 Jul 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-Sep 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 Sep 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 (See Entry). The imitation stone cathedral front used in RKO's 1940 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also employed for this picture. In late Oct 1947, production was shut down for ten days due to Fleming's bout with the flu. Added scenes were shot in mid-Feb 1948. Shortly after the film's premiere in Nov 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 Oct 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 Dec 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 Feb 1950, NYT 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. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
May 48
pp. 160-71, 175.
Box Office
30 Oct 1948.
---
Daily Variety
24 Apr 47
pp. 1-2.
Daily Variety
10 Sep 47
p. 1, 10
Daily Variety
26 Feb 48
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Oct 48
p. 3.
Daily Variety
18 Oct 50
p. 7.
Film Daily
20 Oct 48
p. 3, 7
Hollywood Citizen-News
31 Jul 1947.
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
1 Oct 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Aug 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 47
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 47
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 47
p. 1, 15
Hollywood Reporter
12 Sep 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 47
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 47
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 47
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 47
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 47
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 48
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 48
p. 1, 10
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 48
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 48
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 48
p. 5, 9
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 49
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 49
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 50
p. 2.
Life
15 Nov 1948.
---
Look
23 Nov 1948.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
22 Dec 48
p. 11.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Oct 48
p. 4335.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Oct 48
p. 4366.
New York Times
6 Jul 1947.
---
New York Times
10 Aug 1947.
---
New York Times
21 Dec 1947.
---
New York Times
25 Apr 1948.
---
New York Times
12 Nov 48
p. 30.
New York Times
19 Feb 1950.
---
New York Times
6 Mar 1962.
---
Today's Woman
Dec 1948.
---
Variety
20 Oct 48
p. 11.
Variety
5 Dec 1951.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
At Domremy, Joan's birthplace in Lorraine, December 1428:
At Vaucouleurs, February 1429:
The Court of Charles VII at Chinon, March 1429:
With the army at the Battle of Orleans, May 1429:
The trial at Rouen, February 21st, to May 30th, 1431:
Charles Waggenheim
Alex Harford
Raymond Saunders
George Bruggerman
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Victor Fleming Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Assoc dir
Asst dir
2d unit asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Coat of arms, tapestry and religious banners des
Drapery des and painting
Furniture des
Saddle des in battle seq
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost des
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
Orch arr
Vocal dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Research
Research
Tech adv on cost and customs
Tech dir for livestock
Casting dir
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Armor constr supv
Armor builder
Armor builder for Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman's dresser
STAND INS
Riding double
Running double
Armor double
Armor double
Double
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor photog
Technicolor photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Joan of Lorraine by Maxwell Anderson, as produced by The Playwrights' Company (New York, 18 Nov 1946).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Joan
Joan of Lorraine
The Life of Joan of Arc
Release Date:
2 September 1950
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 11 November 1948
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1948
Production Date:
16 September--mid December 1947
addl shooting: 16 February--25 February 1948 at Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Sierra Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 November 1948
Copyright Number:
LP2050
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
145 or 150
Length(in feet):
13,098
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13017
SYNOPSIS

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, ... +


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." +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.