Following the rules and doing the right thing are not always synonymous, an observation which forms the backbone of writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s odd little drama that hovers somewhere between heart-warmer and farce. With Hume Cronyn playing a jealous Judas to Grant’s smugly self-assured Christ, Jeanne Crain giving a demure Mary Magdalene as an unwed mother-to-be, and Finlay Curries’ Shunderson going for Lazarus (his not-quite-believable backstory giving the film an unexpected bite), Mankiewicz’s satire about a charming maverick bucking authority must have hit a chord or two when it was released during America’s McCarthy era. Premarital sex may not be the scandal it once was, and the role of women in Praetorius’ life seems trite in these liberated times (where would those gals be without him?!) but the dialogue still crackles with witty insights and Grant’s underdog is still worth cheering. Character actor Walter Slezak co-stars as a jovial physics professor whose wisdom stretches beyond atoms; Sidney Blackmer plays Crain's dad, a failed everyman figure whose hopes and dreams now reside in his daughter; and an uncredited Margaret Hamilton plays a wicked witch of a different kind.

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