This sprawling 70mm epic, based on Leon Uris’s chronicle about the formation of the state of Israel, offered some exciting moments with the struggling settlers. Unfortunately, the direction was often heavy-handed, with some wooden performances distracting from the flow.
A shorter version might have worked better – After three and a half hours it ended on a tiresome note.
As well remembered now for its off-screen politics – director Otto Preminger hired (and credited) blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo – as for those on screen, it is a well-intended historical film which received Academy Award nominations for best supporting actor (Mineo) and cinematography.
It was a modest hit on release, despite comedian Mort Sahl’s protestations against its length at the premiere, where he stood and shouted mid-film, “Otto, let my people go!”
Ari Ben Canaan
Eva Marie Saint
Barak Ben Canaan
Lee J. Cobb
David Ben Ami
Dan Ben Amotz