The Story of Ruth (1960)

132 mins | Epic | June 1960

Director:

Henry Koster

Writer:

Norman Corwin

Producer:

Samuel G. Engel

Cinematographer:

Arthur E. Arling

Editor:

Jack W. Holmes

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Franz Bachelin

Production Company:

Samuel G. Engel Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film opens with the following written prologue, which appears before the opening credits: "Across the centuries, many legends have grown around the Biblical Story of Ruth. All of them begin in the ancient land of Judah." According to a Jan 1958 DV news item, Fay and Michael Kanin were initially slated to write the screenplay, but according to information in Twentieth Century-Fox corporate files, the Kanins wrote treatments for the project, but no completed scripts. The Fox files also reveal that Frank G. Slaughter wrote a script for the project, based on his 1954 book The Song of Ruth: A Love Story from the Old Testament . Neither the Kanins' work nor Slaughter's were incoporated into the script by Norman Corwin, who came onto the project in summer 1958. Information in the Fox files confirm that Corwin's final draft of the script was submitted to the studio on 1 Sep 1959.
       HR news items yield the following information about the film: In 1957, Simon Windelberg was announced to write the screenplay. Susan Strasberg, Diane Baker, Millie Perkins and Susan Kohner were all tested for the role of "Ruth," according to Jul and Sep 1959 news items. In Oct 1959, Stephen Boyd was cast as "Boaz." Although a Feb 1960 HR news item places Gloria Moreland in the cast, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. An Apr 1960 DV news item notes that Michael Balcon was planning to produce a film called Ruth, the Moabite , but canceled the project because it would conflict with the Twentieth Century-Fox production.
       ... More Less

The film opens with the following written prologue, which appears before the opening credits: "Across the centuries, many legends have grown around the Biblical Story of Ruth. All of them begin in the ancient land of Judah." According to a Jan 1958 DV news item, Fay and Michael Kanin were initially slated to write the screenplay, but according to information in Twentieth Century-Fox corporate files, the Kanins wrote treatments for the project, but no completed scripts. The Fox files also reveal that Frank G. Slaughter wrote a script for the project, based on his 1954 book The Song of Ruth: A Love Story from the Old Testament . Neither the Kanins' work nor Slaughter's were incoporated into the script by Norman Corwin, who came onto the project in summer 1958. Information in the Fox files confirm that Corwin's final draft of the script was submitted to the studio on 1 Sep 1959.
       HR news items yield the following information about the film: In 1957, Simon Windelberg was announced to write the screenplay. Susan Strasberg, Diane Baker, Millie Perkins and Susan Kohner were all tested for the role of "Ruth," according to Jul and Sep 1959 news items. In Oct 1959, Stephen Boyd was cast as "Boaz." Although a Feb 1960 HR news item places Gloria Moreland in the cast, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. An Apr 1960 DV news item notes that Michael Balcon was planning to produce a film called Ruth, the Moabite , but canceled the project because it would conflict with the Twentieth Century-Fox production.
       The Story of Ruth marked the American film debut of Israeli actress Elana Eden. According to the pressbook contained in the films production file at the AMPAS Library, director Henry Koster signed Eden to a long-term contract after seeing her screen test for The Diary of Anne Frank (see above). The film received scathing reviews in Israel, although American reviews were mixed. The Var review described it as a "moth-eaten, misleading mishmash of biblical hysterics," but the LAT review praised its presentation of a simple story, devoid of sex and violence. A Jul 1961 HR news item adds that writer Herbert Kline filed a breach of promise suit against Twentieth Century-Fox and Charles K. Feldman Group Productions, alleging that money was due him from original story material that he submitted to Feldman which was then subsequently transferred to Fox. The outcome of that suit is unknown. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Jul 60
pp. 420-21, 438-40.
Box Office
13 Jun 1960.
---
Box Office
20 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1958.
---
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1960.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jun 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Jun 60
p. 6.
Filmfacts
1960
p. 141.
Hollywood Citizen-News
1 Jul 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 57
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 59
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 59
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 59
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 59
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 60
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 60
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1961.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Jun 60
p. 741.
New York Times
18 Jun 60
p. 12.
Time
4 Jul 1960.
---
Variety
8 Jun 60
p. 6.
Variety
19 Oct 1960.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Dir of pub
Historical adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on "The Book of Ruth." Old Testament. The Bible.
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1960
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 June 1960
Los Angeles opening: 30 June 1960
Production Date:
late November 1959--mid February 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel G. Engel Productions, Inc. and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 June 1960
Copyright Number:
LP17414
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
132
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19575
SYNOPSIS

Sickness and poverty force the parents of young Ruth to sell their daughter to the Moabite temple where she will be trained to become a priestess to the pagan god Chemosh. The Moabites believe in human sacrifice and when the girl Ruth is chosen as the next victim, a blemish mysteriously appears on her arm, rendering her unacceptable as a sacrifice. Now grown to adulthood, Ruth is initiated as a priestess, and one day, meets the Judean Mahlon when the artisan delivers a golden crown he has forged for the next human sacrifice. When Mahlon speaks out against the worship of stone idols and their thirst for human blood, Ruth teases him about his invisible god, known as Jehovah. Intrigued by Mahlon, Ruth summons him to meet her in the temple courtyard, but becomes frightened by his strange ideas and runs away. After Mahlon criticizes Ruth's harsh treatment of her slave Kera, Ruth softens and begins to treat her subordinates with compassion. While accompanying the king on a tour of his quarries, Ruth watches in horror as a huge statue of Chemosh topples over and crushes three slaves. When Ruth recounts the incident to Mahlon, he questions the king's unfeeling response to the deaths and then gives her a golden tablet containing the Ten Commandments. Ruth's discussions with Mahlon make her question the idea of a savage god who demands human sacrifice. Consequently, when Ruth is instructed to lead the virgin child to the sacrificial altar, she cries out in protest and runs into the watching crowd as the executioner is about to disembowel his victim. Soon after, the king's soldiers ... +


Sickness and poverty force the parents of young Ruth to sell their daughter to the Moabite temple where she will be trained to become a priestess to the pagan god Chemosh. The Moabites believe in human sacrifice and when the girl Ruth is chosen as the next victim, a blemish mysteriously appears on her arm, rendering her unacceptable as a sacrifice. Now grown to adulthood, Ruth is initiated as a priestess, and one day, meets the Judean Mahlon when the artisan delivers a golden crown he has forged for the next human sacrifice. When Mahlon speaks out against the worship of stone idols and their thirst for human blood, Ruth teases him about his invisible god, known as Jehovah. Intrigued by Mahlon, Ruth summons him to meet her in the temple courtyard, but becomes frightened by his strange ideas and runs away. After Mahlon criticizes Ruth's harsh treatment of her slave Kera, Ruth softens and begins to treat her subordinates with compassion. While accompanying the king on a tour of his quarries, Ruth watches in horror as a huge statue of Chemosh topples over and crushes three slaves. When Ruth recounts the incident to Mahlon, he questions the king's unfeeling response to the deaths and then gives her a golden tablet containing the Ten Commandments. Ruth's discussions with Mahlon make her question the idea of a savage god who demands human sacrifice. Consequently, when Ruth is instructed to lead the virgin child to the sacrificial altar, she cries out in protest and runs into the watching crowd as the executioner is about to disembowel his victim. Soon after, the king's soldiers come to arrest the outspoken Mahlon, along with his brother and father Elimelech, who are considered Judean outcasts in the land of Moab. In prison, Mahlon's father and brother are slain in a skirmish with the guards, and Mahlon is interrogated about his indoctrination of Ruth. When Mahlon denounces human sacrifice, he is sentenced to work in the quarries for the rest of his life. For her transgressions, Ruth is banished to solitary confinement for six months and her hair shorn. At the end of her confinement, Ruth is reinstated as a priestess and ordered to enter the household of the king. That night, Ruth visits Mahlon's mother Naomi, who blames her for her family's misfortune. After laying out a plan to free Mahlon, Ruth goes to the quarry with her emissary to help Mahlon escape, but as Mahlon scrambles up the stone walls to freedom, he is stabbed by a guard. After eluding the guard, Ruth and her emissary carry Mahlon to safety, and as Mahlon precariously clings to life, he and Ruth are wed. After exchanging vows, Mahlon kisses Ruth and dies. Ruth then grants Kera her freedom and, after embracing the Judean god, insists on accompanying her mother-in-law Naomi home to Bethlehem stating "Where you go, I will go, where you lodge, I will lodge, your people shall be my people and your God my God." Upon reaching the Judean border, the women come across a herd of poisoned sheep, their shepherd slaughtered by Moabite soldiers in pursuit of Ruth. Just then, Boaz, a brash, prosperous farmer and community leader, arrives with a captured soldier and forces the man to drink from the poisoned water hole. When Ruth and Naomi reach their family farm, they find the well dry and the property in ruins from an unending drought. Naomi then decides that she must turn to her husband's kinsmen, Tob and Boaz for help, but Ruth disagrees and insists on supporting herself by gleaning the leftover wheat from the fields. One day, Boaz sees Ruth gleaning in his field and confronts her about being a Moabite. Defiant, Ruth reproaches him for poisoning the soldier. Ruth's tart tongue causes Boaz to relent, but when he sends a shipment of provisions to the farm, she rejects it. In an effort to help the destitute women, Boaz appeals to Tob, who is unresponsive until he sees the beautiful Ruth and, feigning solicitude, offers the women the labor of his workmen and bounteous supplies. Later, Ruth revises her opinion of Boaz when he defends her against the villagers' accusations of being an idolater. After explaining the Judean hate toward all Moabites, Boaz begs Ruth to leave Bethlehem, but she steadfastly resolves to stay. Soon after, Ruth is formally charged with idolatry and summoned before the Council of Elders. Ruth turns to Boaz for help, but, bound to an oath he has made to bring her to trial, Boaz is unable to shield her. When all seems lost, Naomi prays to God to spare Ruth, and soon after, the holy man Jehoam appears at the farm and prophesizes that Ruth will thrive, and that from the loins of her child's child will be born David, a great King and prophet of the Judean people. The skies then open and rain pours down, bringing an end to the drought. At Ruth's trial, two Judeans testify that they witnessed her worship an idol of Chemosh, but Ruth exposes them as Moabite spies when she challenges them to recite the Ten Commandments and curse Chemosh. Acquitted of all charges, Ruth is finally welcomed into the community. Soon after, Tob visits Naomi and reminds her that as Mahlon's closest kin, he is entitled to his widow. Ruth, who has fallen in love with Boaz, is devastated by the news of her impending marriage to Tob. Their engagement is to be announced at the harvest celebration that evening, and to thwart Tob, Naomi instructs Ruth to return late that night after the men are asleep on the threshing room floor and lie in Boaz' bed. Awakening to find Ruth at his side, Boaz declares his love for her and proposes, certain that Tob will renounce his marital claim for a price. When Tob insists on marrying her, Ruth publicly announces at the ceremony that she spent the night with Boaz, and scandalized, Tob rejects Ruth. After she and Boaz attest that they remained chaste that night, they are married by the elders, thus fulfilling the holy man's prophesy. +

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

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