Cast & Crew
In Arabia during the first century, Princess Fara celebrates her eighteenth birthday with her sweetheart, Prince Voldi, inciting the jealousy of suitor Prince Deran. Deran is the firstborn son of King Zendi, who married Fara's mother Arnon after her divorce from her first husband, Judean nobleman Herod-Antipas. Although the haughty Deran insists that Zendi facilitate his marriage to Fara, Zendi has promised Arnon to allow the girl to choose her own husband. After Voldi declares his love to Fara, Deran presents her with a costly necklace and proposes, stating that he will change the laws forbidding a king from marrying a princess who is not of pure blood. Fara, who has believed herself of pure blood, is shocked to hear from Deran that her father is a corrupt and hated Judean who has disgraced her mother. She runs to her ailing mother, who reluctantly explains to her daughter about her early marriage: Herod-Antipas convinces his father Herod that a marriage to Arnon will form an alliance between the ancient enemies of Judea and Arabia, thus preventing an attack on Judea by Rome. After the wedding, Herod-Antipas ignores Arnon but impregnates her with Fara, whom he calls Esther. One day, Arnon witnesses her playboy husband's legendary brutality, when he kills two bearers for losing a footrace. Soon after, Emporer Tiberius forces Herod to divide his kingdom, naming Herod-Antipas Tetrarch of Galilee. At the ceremony in Rome, Arnon catches her husband making love to his sister-in-law, Herodias, and renounces him. The shame of the ensuing divorce enrages the Arabians, who declare eternal opposition to Galilee and call for the assassination of the younger Herod. Back in the present, Arnon tries to temper her daughter's fury, reminding her of the kindness of men such as Voldi, but now Fara realizes that marrying Voldi will harm his chances of ever becoming king. Fara despairs over her inferior social status, causing Arnon to become distressed, which leads to her death. Determined to avenge her mother, Fara disguises herself as a boy, signs an oath to kill Herod and sets off alone, soon stopping for the night at an inn. When Zendi discovers the oath and the shorn locks of her hair, he sends Voldi after her. That night at the inn, three thieves attack Caesarian proconsulate Mencius, and when Voldi arrives searching for Fara, he helps Mencius escape. Grateful, the Roman offers to aid Voldi in his search for an Arabian "boy," but then jails the prince to protect him from the Romans, who assume he is scheming to kill Herod. Meanwhile, Fara continues on her treacherous journey, but one night, after she is beaten and her horse and coat are stolen, she must struggle to reach the next town on foot. There, she is treated kindly by wandering prophet John the Baptist, who counsels her to seek The Preacher, a Nazarene who says he is the son of God. After switching clothes with a beggar boy to avoid further notice, Fara seeks shelter from a storm under an overturned boat. Just off the coast, fisherman Simon-Peter battles the elements and manages to save his catch, with the help of his crew, John, James and Peter's brother Andrew. In the morning, Peter discovers a bedraggled Fara and, assuming she is a boy, offers her food. Later, when John and James irritate Peter by whispering about The Preacher, he impulsively fires them, leaving him no choice but to hire Fara. He takes her with him to sell his catch in Galilee, where the locals chafe under Herod's harsh treatment, and asks his mother Hannah to bathe the filthy "boy." Upon seeing Fara's silk underthings, Hannah deduces that she is a girl, and clothes her in her late daughter's lovely dresses. Fara, hoping to pass as Judean, calls herself Esther and pretends that she has come to hear The Preacher. In the nearby palace, Herodias, grown depraved and aloof, convinces the increasingly paranoid Herod to fete visiting Romans to improve his reputation with Pontius Pilate, who spurned them after Herod's divorce from Arnon and the subsequent rift with Arabia. Just then, an Arabian attempts to stab Herod, and although the ruler's armor protects him, his fears intensify. Meanwhile, Peter sees that Fara is female and demands that she leave his home, but later, when Herod notices Fara in the town square and sends an underling to see if she is single, Peter defends her as a member of his household. She soon secures employment as a translator of Greek prophesies at the palace, where Herod's proximity allows her to plot his murder in detail. Over the next weeks, Peter is tormented by his cynicism toward religion in the face of The Preacher's growing esteem. Although he gruffly denounces this latest holy man, he finds himself drawn to the hill where The Preacher speaks. Outside the palace one day, newly arrived John the Baptist embarrasses Herod in front of his Roman guests by proclaiming his imminent downfall. Herod has him jailed, arousing the antipathy of the Galileeans, including Fara, who sneaks into the cell and offers to help the prophet escape. John refuses, however, instead again encouraging Fara to seek The Preacher. The next time The Preacher speaks, Galileean magistrate David Ben-Zadok gathers the leaders of the local competing churches, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, to listen. Also in the crowd are Fara, who runs away when The Preacher urges nonviolence, and Peter. Although moved by the speech, Peter is still unconvinced until he carries a blind baby to The Preacher, who heals the baby and touches Peter's shoulder, transforming him into a devoted believer. That night, however, when his fellow townsmen taunt Peter, he responds with violence and then berates himself for being a weak sinner. The next morning, The Preacher calls to him, and after Peter identifies him as the true Christ, he calls Peter the rock upon which he will build his church and names him, John, James and Andrew to be his disciples. In Caesarea, meanwhile, Voldi attempts to gain release from captivity, and when Mencius refuses, still hoping to guard his friend, Voldi attacks him and escapes. At the same time, Herod vaguely recognizes Fara and approaches her, but she deflects his attention by reading a prophecy that declares a curse on Herod's kingdom. After overhearing Herodias plan John the Baptist's beheading, Fara tries to warn him, but is too late and instead witnesses a violent wind suddenly whip through the palace. Galilee is outraged at John's murder, and although Peter counsels Fara to turn the other cheek, her fury also grows. Soon after, Voldi arrives in town, and when he asks after an Arab boy, Peter brings him to Fara. As the lovers embrace, Voldi informs Fara that Zendi has died and Deran, now partially paralyzed, has ascended to the throne. David, realizing Esther is Princess Fara, tries to hide the pair when the Romans arrive, but they arrest Voldi and send him, under guard, back to Arabia. Upon hearing from Fara that Deran will surely kill Voldi, Peter offers to sail her to Arabia in advance of the Roman guard, who are traveling on horseback. Just then, Hannah is struck ill and calls to them. Fara urges Peter to pray for help, and to their wonderment, Christ appears and lifts Hannah from her deathbed. Still, Fara cannot overcome her desire to avenge her mother, and sneaks off to the palace. There she reveals her true identity to Herod who, though weakened by paranoia, tries to reconcile with her. Resigned to die at her hand, Herod urges her not to ruin her own life by becoming a murderer, and as Peter arrives and watches from the doorway, Fara recalls Christ's words and puts down the knife. Peter embraces her, declaring her free from her own chains, and they race to Arabia as the Romans arrive with orders from Pontius Pilate to arrest Herod. On the shore of Arabia, the guards recognize Fara and bring her to Deran, who is in the process of whipping Voldi to death for failing to rescue the princess. Fara stops the beating and convinces Deran to trade Voldi's freedom for Peter's healing powers. Deran vows to transform his brutal ways in exchange for the use of his legs, but despite Peter's warning that a worse fate awaits him, he soon retracts his promise and orders his guards to pursue Fara, Peter and Voldi, who have fled the city. The guards refuse, however, and Deran, in a rage, falls to his death. As the trio reaches Peter's boat, the guards inform Voldi that the counsel has named him the new king. Fara, realizing that marriage to her will jeopardize his rule, sails away from her beloved, promising to live her life spreading the word of peace. As they reach the open sea, Peter and Fara hear Christ's message: to love God with all their souls and love their neighbors as themselves.
Joe Di Reda
Glen Anderson Jr.
William M. Andrews
John De Cuir
Ann Del Valle
C. H. Hutchins
George M. Lamsa
Mary K. Leaken
Rowland V. Lee
Rowland V. Lee
Albert Hay Malotte
Eric G. Stacey
Frank H. Wilkinson
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
The Big Fisherman (1959)
Opening title for The Big Fisherman
There's love aplenty in the heart of Simon Peter (Howard Keel) in this biblical epic, but the search for some hate to generate conflict leads to his being relegated to a supporting role in what amounts to a Shakespearean Arabian Nights tale. More's the pity, since Keel's simple, sincere performance suggests that he could have continued as a major leading man long after the big-screen musical fell out of fashion. Nor did it help that despite beautiful cinematography, this old-fashioned biblical epic had the bad luck to come out in 1959, the same year as Ben-Hur, the film that revolutionized the genre.
Lloyd C. Douglas's novel is often considered a follow-up to his best seller The Robe. Simon Peter is a supporting character in the earlier book, but takes center stage in the later novel, where his redemption through belief in the risen Christ is paralleled to the conversion of an Arabian princess who masquerades as a boy in her quest for vengeance against her father, Herod. When her hunt for the man who had ruined her mother's life takes her to Israel, she ends up working on Peter's boat as he struggles with the call to give up fishing to follow Christ.
Producer Rowland V. Lee, best known for his stylized direction of Son of Frankenstein (1939), first heard of the book from Douglas shortly before its 1948 publication. Lee had been hoping to produce a film based on the life of Christ and was seeking funding from the Ford Foundation. When he read the novel, however, he decided to adapt it to the screen. With no financial backing immediately available, it would take him a while. In fact he almost lost the project when another producer, Bryan Foy, picked up a one-year option on the book in 1954. By that point, the 20th Century-Fox adaptation of Douglas's The Robe (1953) had become a smash hit, prompting Hollywood to look for the next big biblical epic. When Foy's option expired, the title passed through several other companies until Lee finally bought the rights in 1957.
He then took the project to Walt Disney, but the pioneering animator initially passed because of a longstanding policy against overtly religious material. Instead, his brother Roy backed the production but still released it through Disney's Buena Vista. With his backing, Lee lavished $4 million on the production, sparing no expense as he used almost 4,000 actors and extras and almost 6,000 historically accurate props. When overseas filming proved too costly, Lee decided to shoot in California, with location footage on his own ranch in the San Fernando Valley as well as the Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth and the area around La Quinta. Interiors were shot at Universal, which also arranged the loan of John Saxon to play the Arab prince in amorous pursuit of the leading lady.
The first director signed for the film was Michael Curtiz, a Warner Bros. stalwart of the '30s and '40s. When a scheduling problem forced him to drop out, Lee hired Frank Borzage, one of Hollywood's most revered directors of the late silent and early talkie era. He won the first Oscar® for Best Directing for 7th Heaven (1927), with a second for Bad Girl (1931). He also helmed such classics as A Farewell to Arms (1932), History Is Made at Night (1937) and Three Comrades (1938). This was only Borzage's second film after ten years of inactivity as a victim of the Hollywood blacklist and would prove to be his last. Though critics have found evidence of his populist humanism in his comeback film, China Doll (1958), they have been hard-pressed to find any signs of his personal style in The Big Fisherman, possibly because of the film's epic scope. It would be the only biblical epic ever directed by the Hollywood legend and would turn out to be his final film.
For the title role, Lee signed Howard Keel, the towering baritone who had been a mainstay of MGM musicals in the early '50s. With the decline of the musical and the failure of his last MGM film, Kismet (1955), the actor had not appeared in a U.S. film in four years. Leading lady Susan Kohner had just completed the film for which she is best known, Imitation of Life (1959), in which she plays a rebellious, light-skinned black woman. The supporting cast was filled with familiar faces, including Herbert Lom as Herod, Martha Hyer as Herodias and Beulah Bondi as Simon Peter's mother. Also notable was Marian Seldes as Kohner's mother. Seldes has become a stage legend since her Broadway debut as an attendant in Judith Anderson's 1947 production of Medea. The Big Fisherman was made during a brief tenure in Hollywood to pursue film and television work. She returned to Broadway in 1961, where she began a long association with playwright Edward Albee. She also starred in such hits as Albee's A Delicate Balance, for which she won a Tony Award, Equus and Deathtrap. As a teacher at Juilliard, she helped train a generation of future stars, including Robin Williams, Laura Linney and Patti LuPone.
During scripting, Lee and co-writer Howard Estabrook stayed close to Douglas's novel with one major exception. They decided to cut Salome from the story, even though it included the beheading of John the Baptist. Lee felt the character was too erotic for a family film. Lee also decided early on not to show Christ's face on screen. In fact, the character was referred to throughout the film as "The Preacher." Christ's voice was used, however, though Lee kept the speaker's name out of the credits. According to an item in The Hollywood Reporter, the voice was supplied by the Rev. Dr. Donald Curtis, who had acted in such films as Spellbound (1945) and The Ten Commandments (1956). Curtis had studied world religions before becoming ordained in the Church of Religious Science and was minister-director at the Science of Mind Church in Los Angeles at the time of filming.
The Big Fisherman was the first film shot in Super Panavision 70, a process Panavision had refined from the MGM Camera 65 system they had developed for Ben-Hur. Veteran cameraman Lee Garmes had already mastered the widescreen format on Howard Hawks's Land of the Pharaohs (1955), but would outdo himself this time with what he always considered his best work, modeled on the look of Rembrandt's paintings. The soundtrack was produced in a new six-channel recording system that provided an enhanced sense of directionality. Enhancing the sound recording was a devotional score by Albert Hay Malotte, best known for his religious music, particularly his 1935 setting of The Lord's Prayer. Malotte also had worked extensively for Disney, providing scores for such popular cartoons as "Ferdinand and the Bull" and "The Ugly Duckling."
With all the talent on hand, The Big Fisherman should have done better. In some ways, however, the mammoth production proved too much for Borzage and Lee, who let the film go into release with visible boom shadows in some shots and an unintentionally hilarious shot of Hyer with an anachronistic vaccination scar clearly visible. The film opened to mixed reviews. While many critics praised its epic scope, they quibbled over the acting and script. A. H. Weiler of the New York Times called it "honestly reverential but rarely moving...the screen play has a disconcerting effect as authentic, scriptural passages are interspersed with contemporary dialogue and the stiff, theatrical speech of historical dramas." Keel and Lom got the best notices, but the film was eclipsed by the release of Ben-Hur later in the year. It managed to score Oscar® nominations for its art direction, cinematography and costumes, but lost all three categories to the more popular and acclaimed biblical epic.
By Frank Miller
Producer: Rowland V. Lee
Director: Frank Borzage
Screenplay: Howard Estabrook, Rowland V. Lee
Based on the novel by Lloyd C. Douglas
Cinematography: Lee Garmes
Score: Albert Hay Malotte
Cast: Howard Keel (Simon Peter), Susan Kohner (Fara), John Saxon (Voldi), Martha Hyer (Herodias), Herbert Lom (Herod Antipas), Ray Stricklyn (Deran), Marian Seldes (Amon), Alexander Scourby (David Ben-Zadok), Beulah Bondi (Hannah), Rhodes Reason (Andrew), Jonathan Harris (Lysias)
The Big Fisherman (1959)
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th
PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)
War Wagon (1967)
"MGM Parade Show #14"
(Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955)
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004):
Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85.
He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager.
After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom.
After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films.
Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical.
By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show.
Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Important Milestones on Howard Keel:
Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate)
Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe
Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival
Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California
Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma"
Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma"
Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice"
Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun"
Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable
First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat"
First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search"
Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"
Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet"
Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear"
Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk"
Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers"
Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate)
Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson
Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks"
Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific"
Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell
Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow
Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So"
Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s
Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Although the onscreen credits include a copyright statement, it was illegible in the viewed print, and the film was not registered for copyright. The opening credits include the following statement: "Made in Hollywood, USA. With deep appreciation to the other members of the cast, all of the highly trained extras, and skilled technicians." The following written title precedes the film: "Love and hate, the two greatest forces in the heart of man...today or yesterday. In Arabia...during the memorable years of the first century." The incidents in Lloyd C. Douglas' novel and the film are based on passages in the New Testament of the Bible and Christian religious traditions.
Press notes report that producer Rowland V. Lee, who had stopped making films thirteen years earlier, first gained interest in the book when Douglas, who had at that point just completed writing The Robe, told Lee of his plans to write The Big Fisherman. (For information about the screen adaptation of The Robe, see record below.) Lee, who, according to a October 12, 1958 New York Times article, had earlier considered producing a film on the life of Jesus Christ and discussed its financing with the Ford Foundation, read Douglas' book upon its publication in 1948.
On May 10, 1954, Hollywood Reporter reported that Bryan Foy had purchased a one-year option on the screen rights to the novel and planned for Douglas' daughter, Ginger Douglas Dawson, to write the screen adaptation. On May 9, 1955, Hollywood Reporter noted that Century Films, Inc. had purchased the rights, and on October 24, 1957, Daily Variety stated that Lee had negotiated the purchase of the rights from The Centurion Corp. and Douglas' estate, as Douglas had died in 1951. According to an February 11, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Walt Disney provided some of the picture's financing.
Hollywood Reporter reported on July 9, 1958 that Lee had hired Michael Curtiz as director, but on August 4, 1958, it was announced in Daily Variety that Curtiz had dropped out of the production due to scheduling conflicts. On August 21, 1958, Hollywood Reporter stated that Dennis Hopper had turned down a role in the film. On September 15, 1958, Hollywood Reporter reported that Lee was negotiating with MacDonald Carey for a starring role. Lee originally considered shooting the film abroad, but, as noted in a October 3, 1958 Daily Variety article, he decided to shoot it entirely in California, partly due to "skyrocketing" foreign production costs and partly due to a lack of appropriate overseas locales. That article stated that the filmmakers would shoot for six weeks at the Rowland V. Lee Ranch in the San Fernando Valley of CA, a frequent site of movie location shooting, and two weeks in La Quinta, as well as nine weeks at the Universal-International lot.
Studio press notes state that the film's final cost was $4 million and state that, because Lee believed that Jesus was "beyond the comprehension of man," the figure of Jesus would not be seen in the film; even the name of the actor providing his voice was kept a secret. However, an December 8, 1958 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that the voice belonged to Rev. Donald Curtis.
The Big Fisherman was the first picture to be filmed using Panavision 70mm, which allowed for superior depth of focus and definition. In addition, the filmmakers used a new six-channel, directional hi-fidelity sound system. Press notes describe the extreme care lavished on the production, from casting (3,746 actors appear in the film) to costumes to the authenticity of the set (6,000 props were used). 300,000 feet of film was shot and then reduced to 16,000 for the final version. Historical accuracy was overseen by technical advisor George M. Lamsa, who was a renowned Bible expert, as noted in a December 7, 1958 Los Angeles Examiner article.
Lee borrowed actor John Saxon from Universal for his role in this film. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Ned Weaver, Gordon Jones, Dee Carroll, Gloria S. Marshall, Nan Boardman, Paul Burns, Ken Christy, Joan Bradshaw, Maria Korda, Maria Stevens, Joseph Abdullah, David Bond, Austin Green, Charles Horvath, Bob Hoy, Alex Sharpe, Gordon Clark, Ken Terrill, Joe Hayworth, Minta Durfee, Paul Fierro, Paul Weber, Peter Damon, Lynne Allen, Richard Gaines, William Blakewell, Jason Lindsey, Art LaForest, Claire James, Dan White, Ann Dore, Mary McCarty, Sylvia Lewis, Karen Kandler, Richard Mitchell, Dud Leonard, Marshall Bradford and ex-prizefighters Mushy Callahan, Billy "Sailor" Vincent, Abe Bain, Bobby Michaels and Phil Bloom. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Upon The Big Fisherman's release, critics had mixed reactions to the film. While many praised its scope and ambition, the Newsweek reviewer stated: "The acting is properly atrocious [for a parody], the settings magnificently tasteless, the dialogue a splendid refresher course in the use of the cliché, and the production a study in minor technical errors." Several contemporary sources remarked on the film's departures from the novel, including the elimination of the historical figure of Salome. A 1959 Worship and Arts article stated that this omission was due to the "eroticism and licentiousness" commonly associated with Salome.
The Big Fisherman was nominated for the following 1960 Academy Awards: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color), John DeCuir and Julia Heron; Best Cinematography (Color), Lee Garmes; and Best Costume Design (Color), Renie.
Released in United States 1959
Released in United States 1959