April 2, 2021

Studio One, "Pontius Pilate" (1952)

It's become kind of an occasional tradition here to share something seasonal on Good Friday. We've looked at a few Good Friday programs by Bishop Sheen, and one year it was a 1961 Hallmark Hall of Fame story "Give Us Barabbas," starring James Daly in the title role.

This year's presentation, from the CBS anthology Studio One, was originally broadcast on April 7, 1952, and concerns one of the most important yet enigmatic figures in the Bible. To say that Pontius Pilate plays a pivotal role in the story of Christ's Passion is an understatement; he is, after all, the one who pronounced the sentence of death. As a historial figure, his record is well-documented. 

And yet, from the very beginning, there has been speculation as to the actual role Pilate played; some prefer to transfer blame from him to the Jews, portraying Pilate as something of a bureaucrat stuck in a no-win situation. Others speculate that, prior to his death, Pilate experienced a conversion and became a Christian. In all likelihood, the story is probably just what it seems to be: a ruthless, politically-minded governor who sought to curry favor with Rome, made a grievous error in judgement, lost control of the territory over which he ruled, and was eventually recalled in disgrace.

Here, however, we have a provocative piece of speculation, portraying Pilate as a man who was forever haunted by the decision he made and the effect it had, not only on him but on his wife. The program stars Cyril Ritchard as Pilate and Geraldine Fitzgerald as Claudia. Here is "Pontius Pilate," presented without commercial interruption.


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