Sanctuary (1961 film)

Last updated
Sanctuary (1961 film).jpg
Directed by Tony Richardson
Written by
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Cinematography Ellsworth Fredericks
Edited by Robert L. Simpson
Music by Alex North
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
April 18, 1961
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1,915,000 [1]

Sanctuary is a 1961 drama film directed by Tony Richardson. The film, based on the William Faulkner novels Sanctuary (1931) and Requiem for a Nun (1961), is about the black maid of a white woman who kills the latter's newborn in order to give her employer a way out of a predicament, and then faces the death penalty. [2]



In 1928, in the county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi, Nancy Mannigoe, a 30-year-old black woman, is condemned to death for the willful murder of the infant son of her white employer Mrs. Gowan Stevens, the former Temple Drake. On the eve of the scheduled execution, Temple tries to save Nancy by telling her father, the governor, of the events leading up to the murder.

Six years earlier, Temple was a pleasure-loving college girl carrying on a flirtatious romance with young Gowan Stevens. One night, Gowan got drunk and took her to a backwoods still where she was raped by Candy Man, a Cajun bootlegger. The next morning, although in a state of semi-shock, she willingly submitted to more of his lovemaking, and then agreed to live with him in a New Orleans brothel. Nancy became her personal maid, and Temple reveled in her new life, until Candy Man was reported killed in an auto accident and Temple was forced to go home. Marriage to Gowan followed; but for Temple it was a dull life, and she hired Nancy as a servant to remind her of the brothel life she had loved so much. Suddenly, Candy Man returned, and Temple decided to abandon her home and marriage and once more run off with him. To bring Temple to her senses and prevent her from ruining her life, Nancy sacrificed the infant child by smothering it to death.

Though shocked by the candor of his daughter's confession, the governor is unable to grant a pardon for Nancy. The next morning Temple visits Nancy in her cell. As the two women beg each other's forgiveness, Temple realizes that it is only through Nancy's sacrifice that she has been able to find salvation.

E. Pauline Degenfelder of Worcester Public Schools estimated that thirty percent of the plot takes place in the present time with the remainder in flashback; of that seventy percent flashback material, she attributed forty percent to the original novel, eight percent to the sequel novel, and the remainder to "a transition between Sanctuary and Requiem". [3] The Lee Goodwin/Tommy element is not included. [4] A car accident was used as a plot device for Temple to be discovered as, due to the absence of the aforementioned element, [5] Horace Benbow is not in this version and therefore cannot track her down. [6]


Richard D. Zanuck produced the film. [7] He made it an adaptation of both Faulkner novels because there were more commercial opportunities and because he believed the sequel novel alone could not be properly adapted into a film. [8] Zanuck acquired the filming rights to both novels, and as part of this he spent $75,000 on the rights to The Story of Temple Drake as he was required to do so to get the said rights to the original novel. [3]

James Poe wrote the script, [9] using an outline and prologue made by Zanuck because the latter was unable to contact Faulkner through employees sent to visit the author. [3]

Richardson stated that he wished to work on the film partly due to the depiction of the 1920s and 1930s United States in the original script, but he disliked the editing process for American films at the time and therefore he disliked the completed film. [10]


Horace Benbow, Lee Goodwin, and Tommy do not appear in this version. [4]

Degenfelder wrote that the merging of characters results in "ludicrous coincidence" being a feature of the plot. [3]


Phillips characterized the reaction from the general audiences and from film critics as "lukewarm". [10]

Crowther wrote that the film "no more reflects or comprehends the evil in the Faulkner stories or the social corruption suggested in them than did" the previous adaptation, and that Sanctuary was a "melodrama of the most mechanical and meretricious sort" that lacked the explanation for Temple's behavior. [9] Crowther praised Remick's acting. [9]

Degenfelder argued that the source material was poorly combined and adapted, with the work "woefully deficient in movement", resulting in "an artistic disaster." [3] In addition she felt this version was misogynistic. [11]

Phillips argued that the film does have "much of the flavor of Faulkner" and that it would be difficult to depict the original novel's events in a film that would be acceptable for general audiences. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Gentlemans Agreement</i> 1947 film by Elia Kazan

Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 American drama film based on Laura Z. Hobson's best-selling 1947 novel of the same name. It concerns a journalist who poses as a Jew to research an exposé on the widespread distrust and dislike of Jews in New York City and the affluent communities of New Canaan, Connecticut and Darien, Connecticut. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won three: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director.

Trigger may refer to:

<i>Laura</i> (1944 film) 1944 American film noir directed by Otto Preminger

Laura is a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb along with Vincent Price and Judith Anderson. The screenplay by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Betty Reinhardt is based on the 1943 novel Laura by Vera Caspary.

<i>Kings Row</i> 1942 film directed by Sam Wood

Kings Row is a 1942 film starring Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, and Ronald Reagan that tells a story of young people growing up in a small American town at the turn of the twentieth century. The picture was directed by Sam Wood.

Temple Drake is a fictional character created by William Faulkner. She appears in the novels Sanctuary (1931) and Requiem for a Nun (1951). The 1962 play Requiem for a Nun and the films The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and Sanctuary (1961) also feature the character. In the two films she is played, respectively, by Miriam Hopkins and Lee Remick.

<i>As I Lay Dying</i> Novel by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying is a 1930 Southern Gothic novel by American author William Faulkner. Faulkner's fifth novel, it is consistently ranked among the best novels of 20th-century literature. The title derives from Book XI of Homer's Odyssey, wherein Agamemnon tells Odysseus, "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades."

<i>Oliver Twist</i> (1948 film) 1948 British film by David Lean

Oliver Twist is a 1948 British film and the second of David Lean's two film adaptations of Charles Dickens novels. Following his 1946 version of Great Expectations, Lean re-assembled much of the same team for his adaptation of Dickens' 1838 novel, including producers Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan, cinematographer Guy Green, designer John Bryan and editor Jack Harris. Lean's then-wife, Kay Walsh, who had collaborated on the screenplay for Great Expectations, played the role of Nancy. John Howard Davies was cast as Oliver, while Alec Guinness portrayed Fagin and Robert Newton played Bill Sykes.

<i>Pickup on South Street</i> 1953 film by Samuel Fuller

Pickup on South Street is a 1953 Cold War spy film noir written and directed by Samuel Fuller, and released by the 20th Century Fox studio. The film stars Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, and Thelma Ritter. It was screened at the Venice Film Festival in 1953. In 2018, Pickup on South Street was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

<i>Sanctuary</i> (Faulkner novel)

Sanctuary is a novel by the American author William Faulkner about the rape and abduction of a well-bred Mississippi college girl, Temple Drake, during the Prohibition era. It is considered one of his more controversial works, given its theme of rape. First published in 1931, it was Faulkner's commercial and critical breakthrough, establishing his literary reputation. It is said Faulkner claimed it was a "potboiler", written purely for profit, but this has been debated by scholars and Faulkner's own friends.

"That Evening Sun" is a short story by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1931 in the collection These 13, which included Faulkner's most anthologized story, "A Rose for Emily". The story was originally published, in a slightly different form, as "That Evening Sun Go Down" in The American Mercury in March of the same year.

<i>Requiem for a Nun</i>

Requiem for a Nun is a work of fiction written by William Faulkner which was first published in 1951. It is a sequel to Faulkner's early novel Sanctuary, which introduced the characters of Temple Drake, her friend Gowan Stevens, and Gowan's uncle Gavin Stevens. The events in Requiem are set in Faulkner's fictional Yoknapatawpha County and Jackson, Mississippi, in November 1937 and March 1938, eight years after the events of Sanctuary. In Requiem, Temple, now married with a child, must learn to deal with her violent, turbulent past as related in Sanctuary.

<i>On the Riviera</i> 1951 film by Walter Lang

On the Riviera is a 1951 Technicolor musical comedy film made by 20th Century Fox. Directed by Walter Lang and produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by Valentine Davies and Phoebe and Henry Ephron, it is the studio's fourth film based on the 1934 play The Red Cat by Rudolph Lothar and Hans Adler. This version stars Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet, with Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal and Sig Ruman.

<i>The Sun Also Rises</i> (1957 film) 1957 film by Henry King

The Sun Also Rises is a 1957 film adaptation of the 1926 Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name directed by Henry King. The screenplay was written by Peter Viertel and it starred Tyrone Power, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, and Errol Flynn. Much of it was filmed on location in France and Spain in Cinemascope and color by Deluxe. A highlight of the film is the famous "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, Spain and two bullfights.

<i>The Story of Temple Drake</i> 1933 film by Stephen Roberts

The Story of Temple Drake is a 1933 American pre-Code rape and revenge film directed by Stephen Roberts and starring Miriam Hopkins and Jack La Rue. It tells the story of Temple Drake, a reckless woman in the American South who falls into the hands of a brutal gangster and rapist. It was adapted from the highly controversial 1931 novel Sanctuary by William Faulkner. Though some of the more salacious elements of the source novel were not included, the film was still considered so indecent that it helped give rise to the strict enforcement of the Hays Code.

<i>The Grissom Gang</i> 1971 film by Robert Aldrich

The Grissom Gang is a 1971 American crime neo noir directed and produced by Robert Aldrich from a screenplay by Leon Griffiths. The film is the second adaptation of the 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase; a previous version had been made in Britain in 1948. The cast includes Kim Darby, Scott Wilson, Tony Musante, Robert Lansing, Irene Dailey, Connie Stevens, Wesley Addy, Joey Faye and Ralph Waite.

<i>No Orchids for Miss Blandish</i> (film) 1948 British film

No Orchids for Miss Blandish is a 1948 British gangster film adapted and directed by St. John Legh Clowes from the 1939 novel of the same name by James Hadley Chase. It stars Jack La Rue, Hugh McDermott, and Linden Travers, with unbilled early appearances from Sid James, as a barman, and Walter Gotell, as a nightclub doorman. Due to the film's strong violence and sexual content for its time, amongst other reasons, several critics have called it one of the worst films ever made.

<i>The Sound and the Fury</i> (1959 film) 1959 film by Martin Ritt

The Sound and the Fury is a 1959 American drama film directed by Martin Ritt. It is loosely based on the 1929 novel of the same name by William Faulkner.

<i>No Orchids for Miss Blandish</i> (novel) Novel by James Hadley Chase

No Orchids For Miss Blandish is a 1939 crime novel by the British writer James Hadley Chase. The novel was influenced by the American crime writer James M. Cain and the stories in the pulp magazine Black Mask. Chase reportedly wrote the book as a bet to out-do The Postman Always Rings Twice. The 1948 novel The Flesh of the Orchid by the same author is a sequel to this novel.

Gavin Stevens is a lawyer and the county attorney in Jefferson in Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. He was educated at Harvard and Heidelberg universities.

Popeye is a character in William Faulkner's 1931 novel Sanctuary. He is a Memphis, Tennessee-based criminal who rapes Temple Drake and introduces her into a criminal world which corrupts her.



  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN   978-0-8108-4244-1. p253
  2. TCM Database entry
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Degenfelder, 554.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Phillips, "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"," p. 269. Note that the article says "Ira Stevens" is the new name even though credits state the name is "Ira Bobbitt".
  5. 1 2 Phillips, Gene D. Fiction, Film, and Faulkner: The Art of Adaptation. University of Tennessee Press, 2001. ISBN   1572331666, 9781572331662. p. 82.
  6. Phillips, "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"," p. 269-270.
  7. Degenfelder, 553.
  8. Degenfelder, 553-554.
  9. 1 2 3 4 Crowther, Bosley (1961-02-22). "The Screen: 'Sanctuary':Adaptation of Faulkner Novels Has Premiere". The New York Times . Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Phillips, "Faulkner And The Film: The Two Versions Of "Sanctuary"," p. 271.
  11. 1 2 Degenfelder, p. 555.
  12. 1 2 Phillips, Gene D. Fiction, Film, and Faulkner: The Art of Adaptation. University of Tennessee Press, 2001. ISBN   1572331666, 9781572331662. p. 80.
  13. Phillips, Gene D. Fiction, Film, and Faulkner: The Art of Adaptation. University of Tennessee Press, 2001. ISBN   1572331666, 9781572331662. p. 82-83.