Screen Pilates: Richard Boone

Richard Boone

 

The second of our series on screen portrayals of Pontius Pilate is Richard Boone in the film The Robe (1953).  ( The portrayal of Pilate by Rod Steiger in Jesus of Nazareth (1977), the first in our series, is reviewed here.)  Descended from a younger brother of Daniel Boone, Boone, a Navy veteran of the Pacific during World War ii, studied acting on the GI bill.  Boone assayed the role of Pilate only three years into his career, but he already had the three traits that made him stand out as an actor:  a commanding presence, a deep gravelly voice and an ability to suggest that a character he is portraying is not as simple as we think at first glance.  Boone went on to be a western television star in the hit show Have Gun Will Travel (1957-1963) in which he played Paladin, a West Point graduate who fought for truth and justice in the old West, as long as his $1,000.00 fee was paid.  Boone portrayed Paladin as a well-educated man who would often draw upon his knowledge of history to win the day.  It was the favorite show of a very small Donald McClarey and no doubt helped inspire a love of history in me.  Here is the Paladin theme song which could be sung by almost all schoolboys in the early Sixties:

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Alright, that is quite enough Memory Lane!  Back to the task at hand.   Go here to view the video clip of Boone as Pilate.  We see Pilate washing his hands.  Tribune Gallio, portrayed by Richard Burton, has been ordered to report to Pilate.  Gallio is being summoned back to Rome.  However, Pilate has one task for him to perform before he leaves.  A routine assignment, the execution of three criminals.  One of them is a fanatic, who has a following and Gallio is told by Pilate to bring enough men to deal with trouble.  Pilate gives these orders in a clipped military style, wasting not a syllable.

Then, the unexpected happens.  Pilate confesses, almost talking to himself, that he had a miserable night, bedeviled by factions and no one agreeing with anyone, with even his wife having an opinion. (“Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him.”). Pilate then shakes off his reverie, and wishes Gallio good luck.  He then asks a slave to bring water to wash his hands, and is reminded that he has just washed his hands.

It is a small gem of a performance.  Boone portrays Pilate as a no nonsense military man who is beginning to be haunted by what he has just done in sentencing Jesus.  It is a minimalist performance that conveys much in a very brief scene.

I can’t let the video go without directing readers to 29:26 where there is a very powerful scene involving Judas and the poison of doubt.

18 Responses to Screen Pilates: Richard Boone

  • “Have gun. Will travel.” Pretty much says it all: solve a ton of problems. Great line for a business card.

    I watched that on TV when I was a kid, too.

  • I liked Gunsmoke better. Marshall Dillon did his job for free. As for Boone, not bad as Pilate. Victor Mature was an underrated actor, too. Liked him in Samson and Delilah. Not to threadjack but this could make an interesting topic, Don: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42215497/ns/us_news-life/
    The U.S. bishops apparently back a new Bible translation that’s PC, which is another reason I have trouble being a Catholic. Whatever happened to tradition?

  • “Marshall Dillon did his job for free.”

    Nope. Dillon did it for his government salary. I always preferred deputy Festus on that show, one of the great comedic television creations.

  • Well, it wasn’t a grand, Don. Palladin was mercenary.

  • As for some bishops making fools of themelves Joe, a cursory look at Church history would demonstrate that has been a problem from the beginning, yet the Church has endured for 20 centuries.

  • “Palladin was mercenary.”

    No, he was a better negotiator than Dillon.

  • Actually Dillon would have received $90.00 a month, not a bad salary in 1870. (A Union private made $14.00 a month during the Civil War and Army privates in WW2 made $50.00 a month in combat pay.) Deputies like Festus made zip in salary. They got six cents a mile when they were out pursuing a fugitive and got $2.00 a head when they brought in a prisoner. (Festus was being ripped off.) Of course this does not include the “cuts” that law enforcement routinely got in the West from businesses to “supplement” their salaries. The Long Branch alone each month could have brought in several hundred dollars more to Dillon. That would explain the reason why he spent so much time in there, leaving aside the beer and the charms of Miss Kitty! :)

  • “…the Church has endured for 20 centuries.”

    Don, there are many religions that precede Christianity. Here are scores to pick and choose from:

    http://meta-religion.com/World_Religions/Ancient_religions/ancient_religions.htm

  • Very few religions have begun Joe with their founder being put to death as a criminal. Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, is the only one I can think of offhand, but his religion has been a casualty of Time, the fate of most religions. Christianity has been written off as dead time and again, and the movements that proclaimed it dead have usually suffered the same fate as Manichaeism. Christianity is unique in its long term success when it began with so many initial disadvantages: no religion of a peculiar nation, no control of a powerful nation, up against well-established religions, the subject of bitter persecution from its inception, its ranks drawn disproportionately from the poor and humble and the list could go on at considerable length.

  • Granted, Don, but claimed uniqueness, which is refutable, does not necessarily confer validity. There’s no gainsaying Christianity’s staying power. However, consider that the Virgin Birth was typically an Eastern idea that had been familiar from Egypt to Mesopotamia for at least 2,000 years, and nearly all the prophets and wonder-workers who swarmed in the vast and murky region had been “sons of the gods.”

    Equally, the idea of Atonement was also Eastern, as was that of Original Sin and the Resurrection of the Body. Christianity, then, was in large part a syncretism, an outgrowth of Judaism, which accepted, on the one hand, a concept of immorality that came from the East, and, on the other, a concept of God that gradually become almost more Greek than Jewish.

    Nor can one ignore the constant rewrites of Scripture (which continue to this day) as theologian after theologian looked for new interpretations of old texts. By the 4th Century, Jerome was saying that there were “as many readings as texts.”

    Augustine, Origen, Irenaeus, Cyprian. Justian differed widely on meanings and matters and we are to be content with Tertullian’s “I believe because it is incredible.” Clearly a sign he began life as a lawyer, as HL Mencken quipped. (with all due respect, my barrister friend).

    While 20 centuries old, it wasn’t under 325 a.d. that the Church picked up steam by establishing the divinity of Jesus, purging it of the Arian heresy, and getting the house in order. Three centuries prior there was free-for-all chaos. More than anyone perhaps, Christianity owes its durability to Constantine, who gave it status as an official faith.

    The 17 centuries that followed resist analysis in this short space, but suffice it to say that theological shifts were seismic, resulting in a Church today that bears little resemblance to what was merely another Jewish sect from the start.

    I leave for now with this quote from Eric Hoffer: “Though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious. The true believer is everywhere on the march, shaping the world in his own image. Whether we line up with him or against him, it is well we should know all we can concerning his nature and potentialities.”

  • Because you live in Illinois, Don, I have to share a parody song to the tune of the PALADIN theme that a U of I classmate made up in the 60’s:

    Champaign-Urbana is the name of a town,
    A place without honor on a prairie mound.
    The flicks they are lousy but the girls oh-boy,
    Sodom and Gomorrah of the State of Illinois.

    Illinois, Ilinois, Why are we here?
    To get PhD’s and drink more beer.

  • First rate Sandra! We sang similar parody songs at the U of I in the Seventies when I attended, although none of them to the tune of Paladin, and most of them with lyrics that should not be mentioned on a family friendly blog! :)

  • “Virgin Birth was typically an Eastern idea that had been familiar from Egypt to Mesopotamia for at least 2,000 years, and nearly all the prophets and wonder-workers who swarmed in the vast and murky region had been “sons of the gods.””

    Yep Joe and such concepts were anathema to Jews. Hence the ferocious attacks on the early Christians by some Jews who viewed them at best as heretics and at worst as pagans. Now ask yourself this question Joe, “Why would the Jews gathered around Jesus come up with such ideas about Jesus unless they were doing their best to explain a reality that their co-religionists would find shocking?” By doing this they subjected themselves to immense persecution and exile from their own people. Conversely, why would non-Jewish early Christian converts join with Jews to worship a dead Jew unless they were convinced by the testimony of the Apostles as to what they had seen? The fact that the pagans used similar concepts does nothing to explain the success of Christianity in its earliest stages.

    “Equally, the idea of Atonement was also Eastern, as was that of Original Sin and the Resurrection of the Body.”

    Atonement is a concept equally at home in Judaism Joe. As to the resurrection of the body, the Pharisees held to it generations before Christ and the pagans found it to be absurd. As to Original Sin, that is a purely Jewish concept. The Greeks had the idea of an original golden age, but that concept was not the same as Original Sin, as can be seen by the Greek cyclical view of history and a return to the Golden Age here on Earth. The poets of the time of Augustus thought that he was beginning a return to a Golden Age, and hence the “messianic” quality of some of that poetry which some of the early Church Fathers thought was an unconscious prelude to the birth of Christ.

    “Nor can one ignore the constant rewrites of Scripture (which continue to this day) as theologian after theologian looked for new interpretations of old texts. By the 4th Century, Jerome was saying that there were “as many readings as texts.””

    No Joe here we disagree. Most differences in the text are rather minor. Considering the number of books in the Bible, it is amazing how well the texts of these books, overall, have been transmitted, Bart Ehrman and other hysterics on the subject notwithstanding.

    A good article critiquing Ehrman is linked below.

    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2006/03/misanalyzing-text-criticism-bart.html

    “While 20 centuries old, it wasn’t under 325 a.d. that the Church picked up steam by establishing the divinity of Jesus”

    Completely untrue Joe. Christ was worshipped as God from the beginning. It was the Arians who were the innovators. Of course all we have to do is to look at the Gospels to see Christ referring to himself as “I AM”, which clearly idicates that Christ claimed to be God. The Council of Nicaea was merely reflecting the traditional belief of the Catholic Church.

    “but suffice it to say that theological shifts were seismic, resulting in a Church today that bears little resemblance to what was merely another Jewish sect from the start.”

    No Joe, in its essentials the Church is the same today as the Church that gathered around Christ at the first Mass that we commemorate on Holy Thursday.

    In regard to Eric Hoffer, I have a fondness for the late longshoreman philosopher, but he was mistaken about living in a Godless age. All times are God’s whether humans recognize it or not.

  • Great Apologetics, Don.
    I’ll have you on my team anytime :-)

  • Thank you Don. I am sure you have a very able team indeed.

  • Joe Green, with all due respect there is no religion that predated Christianity. True religion was the worship of the One God, and the Redeemer to come that began with Adam and Eve. God revealed more to Noah, Abraham, and Moses. But it was the same religion. The Hebrews of the Old Testament (and some non-idolatrous gentiles, like Job) believed in a Savior to come. We Catholic, true Christians, believe in a Savior who has come, and still abides with His Church, our Emanuel. The words “synagogue” and Church “ecclesia” mean the same thing in Greek and Hebrew. The Church was prefigured in the Old Testament in which all the rituals and sacrifices were a sign of what was to come in the one sacrifice that would actually atone for the sins of the world. Thus the Baptist identifies Christ as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

    I realize that you already know this and so much more, but you are confusing the aberrations of false religions, which were corruptions of the true, with the true religion revealed by God. Some Jewish leaders in the 12th century (Moses Maimonides among them), in their determination to undo Christianity, changed their own dictionaries to render the word “alma” to mean “young woman” instead of “virgin.” Thus, they rejected their own greatest scholars who translated the Hebrew scriptures in to Septuagint Greek in the 3rd century BC. These scholars translated Isaias 7:14 as “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emanuel.” And, too, why would the apostle Matthew, a Jew, use this text as proof of Jesus being the Messiah, if “alma” meant “young woman”? What scandal it is that the New American Bible mistranslates this passage based on a defective Hebrew dictionary, whose authors deleted the primary meaning of the word “alma.”

  • Brian, with all due respect, I suppose it depends on one’s definition of “religion.” which Webster’s firstly says is “the service and worship of God or the supernatural.”

    Before Christ it is incontrovertible that humans worshipped or otherwise acknowledged divinities, real or imagined. Whether they be “true” or “false” is another matter.

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