The Pilgrimage Play (1949)

90 mins | Drama | 1949

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HISTORY

Opening credits include the following written statement: "Based on the Life of Jesus Christ as presented by the Hollywood Bowl Association through the Pilgrimage Play Foundation in Hollywood, California." Author Christine W. Stevenson, who was heiress to the Pittsburgh Paint Co. fortune, also contributed to the creation of the Hollywood Bowl. The play was first performed on 27 Jun 1920 in an open-air amphitheater across from the Hollywood Bowl. When a fire destroyed that area, a permanent theater was constructed in 1931 and was eventually donated to Los Angeles County. With the exception of a few years, the play was performed annually until 1964, when a lawsuit challenged the County's involvement in religious theater. The 1949 rendition of the play marked actor Nelson Leigh's ninth season in the role of Christ.
       In May 1949, HR announced that Ralph Ravenscroft had completed a deal with the Hollywood Bowl Assocation to film a 35mm color version of the stage play. Arthur Pierson was announced as the film's director at that time. Ravenscroft's contribution to the completed picture, if any, has not been determined. Most of the cast of the stage play, including Leigh, Stephen Chase, Leonard Penn, Richard Hale and Fiona O'Shiel, recreated their roles in the film version. The onscreen credit for the theological advisor was not readable in the viewed print, but may have been Dr. William Pruitt. Although the picture was shot in 16mm and was intended primarily for showings in churches, the HR review announced that 35mm prints were being made for screenings in "art theatres in this country and possibly in England." One-third of the film's profits were to ... More Less

Opening credits include the following written statement: "Based on the Life of Jesus Christ as presented by the Hollywood Bowl Association through the Pilgrimage Play Foundation in Hollywood, California." Author Christine W. Stevenson, who was heiress to the Pittsburgh Paint Co. fortune, also contributed to the creation of the Hollywood Bowl. The play was first performed on 27 Jun 1920 in an open-air amphitheater across from the Hollywood Bowl. When a fire destroyed that area, a permanent theater was constructed in 1931 and was eventually donated to Los Angeles County. With the exception of a few years, the play was performed annually until 1964, when a lawsuit challenged the County's involvement in religious theater. The 1949 rendition of the play marked actor Nelson Leigh's ninth season in the role of Christ.
       In May 1949, HR announced that Ralph Ravenscroft had completed a deal with the Hollywood Bowl Assocation to film a 35mm color version of the stage play. Arthur Pierson was announced as the film's director at that time. Ravenscroft's contribution to the completed picture, if any, has not been determined. Most of the cast of the stage play, including Leigh, Stephen Chase, Leonard Penn, Richard Hale and Fiona O'Shiel, recreated their roles in the film version. The onscreen credit for the theological advisor was not readable in the viewed print, but may have been Dr. William Pruitt. Although the picture was shot in 16mm and was intended primarily for showings in churches, the HR review announced that 35mm prints were being made for screenings in "art theatres in this country and possibly in England." One-third of the film's profits were to go to the Pilgrimage Play Foundation, which funded the play's annual production, according to the May 1949 HR item. The Copyright Catalog indicates that a "Catholic version" of this "Protestant version" was released as Upon This Rock . More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 49
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 49
p. 4.
International Photographer
Jan 50
p. 16.
International Photographer
May 50
p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
Jul 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
17 May 1997.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Pilgrimage Play by Christine W. Stevenson (Los Angeles, 27 Jun 1920).
SONGS
"Hosanna," words and music by Martha Gaston Bigelow
"Onward, Christian Soldiers," words by Sabine Baring-Gould, music by Sir Arthur Sullivan.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Upon This Rock
Release Date:
1949
Production Date:
late August--early September 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Preferred Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 January 1950
Copyright Number:
LP999
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
gauge
16mm
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the year 64 AD, Emperor Nero of Rome begins persecuting Christians for their beliefs and sentences one of Christ's apostles, Simon Peter, to death. For the benefit of two other prisoners in his cell, Simon Peter recounts some of the events of Christ's life, beginning with His birth: After being baptized by John the Baptist, Christ goes into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the Devil. Having resisted temptation, Christ then goes into Judea, where He restores a blind man's sight. Those who witness this miracle become the first of Christ's apostles. Christ then goes to the city of Samaria, but does not fear for His safety despite the intense hatred that the Samaritans feel toward the Jews. Thirsty, Christ goes to Jacob's Well for a drink of water, when a deranged man approaches Him. After Christ brings peace to the man, word begins to spread about His amazing powers. Soon, the pharisees begin to worry that Christ may undermine their power as religious authorities. Nicodemus, one of the pharisees, but a seeker of truth, is converted by Christ. Later, King Herod kills John the Baptist, and Christ prophesies that He, too, will be killed, but that He will rise again after three days. After Christ learns from Mary and Martha, the sisters of His friend Lazarus of Bethany, that their brother has sickened and died, Christ travels to Bethany with His apostles and prays for Lazarus to be raised from the dead. Later, the pharisees hear reports that Lazarus has been resurrected and offer Christ's apostle, Judas Iscariot, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, to deliver Christ to them. During Passover ... +


In the year 64 AD, Emperor Nero of Rome begins persecuting Christians for their beliefs and sentences one of Christ's apostles, Simon Peter, to death. For the benefit of two other prisoners in his cell, Simon Peter recounts some of the events of Christ's life, beginning with His birth: After being baptized by John the Baptist, Christ goes into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the Devil. Having resisted temptation, Christ then goes into Judea, where He restores a blind man's sight. Those who witness this miracle become the first of Christ's apostles. Christ then goes to the city of Samaria, but does not fear for His safety despite the intense hatred that the Samaritans feel toward the Jews. Thirsty, Christ goes to Jacob's Well for a drink of water, when a deranged man approaches Him. After Christ brings peace to the man, word begins to spread about His amazing powers. Soon, the pharisees begin to worry that Christ may undermine their power as religious authorities. Nicodemus, one of the pharisees, but a seeker of truth, is converted by Christ. Later, King Herod kills John the Baptist, and Christ prophesies that He, too, will be killed, but that He will rise again after three days. After Christ learns from Mary and Martha, the sisters of His friend Lazarus of Bethany, that their brother has sickened and died, Christ travels to Bethany with His apostles and prays for Lazarus to be raised from the dead. Later, the pharisees hear reports that Lazarus has been resurrected and offer Christ's apostle, Judas Iscariot, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, to deliver Christ to them. During Passover in Jerusalem, Christ finds the temple overrun by money changers, and angrily expels them while Lord Zadok and other pharisees attempt to have Him incriminate Himself by defying their laws. At Mount Zion, Christ gathers His apostles for the Passover celebration and tells them that He has already been betrayed. Christ then asks Judas to go and complete his act of betrayal. When Judas returns a short time later to the garden of Gethsemane, he is accompanied by the pharisees, who arrest Christ and decide to put Him on trial immediately. The terrified apostles flee, and Christ is taken to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas. Ashamed about deserting his Savior, Simon Peter tries to find Him, but is arrested by centurions after denying knowledge of Him. Although Nicodemus attempts to defend Him, He is tried and convicted. Christ is then taken to the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, and although Pilate's wife begs her husband not to torture Christ, Pilate has Him whipped and orders his execution. Meanwhile, a totally repentant Judas returns the silver and later hangs himself. After He is crucified at Golgotha, Christ's body is placed in a tomb. Three days later, His followers go to the tomb and find that the stone blocking the entrance has been moved aside. Christ then appears to His apostles on the Mount of Olives and before He leaves them for the last time, asks His followers to go forth and preach His word to the world. +

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

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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.