THE WORD (TV miniseries)

11/12-15/1978. Sunday-Wednesday, 9 pm. 8 hours.
CBS. Video: 188 minutes.
Code: WOR 11/1978


Dramatization of Irving Wallace's novel about the authentication dispute and publication rivalry surrounding a new Gospel purporting to show that Jesus survived the crucifixion and lived out his life in Rome. The story is entirely modern, with no Biblical scenes.


Writer: Dick Berg.
Director: Richard Lang.


David Janssen as Steve Randall
James Whitmore, Jr. as George Wheeler
Geraldine Chapman as Naomi Dunn
John Huston as Nathan Randall
Janice Rule as Barbara Randall
Eddie Albert as Ogden Towery
Nicol Williamson as Maertin de Vroome
Ron Moody as Robert Le Brun
Diana Muldaur as Claire Randall
Kate Mulgrew as Tony Nicholson
Christopher Lloyd as Hans Bogardus
Jonathan Banks as Young Le Brun, forger, convict. Listed 20 of 39.


Le Brun is a convict imprisoned on Devil’s Island. He is befriended and later feels betrayed by a priest (Christopher Cary), whom he strikes across the face. He is chained down, and flogged by the prison guards. Years later he forges the ‘Gospel’ papyrus as revenge for how he was betrayed.


Robert Le Brun (Moody) has forged the papyrus purporting to be a newly discovered gospel. After Steve Randall finds him, Le Brun tells his life story to give his motivation for doing so. Flashbacks are shown to his imprisonment on Devil's Island, French Guiana, c1935-1953. Jonathan Banks plays the younger Le Brun, including speeches, but no lines are heard; voiceover by Moody. Priest restores his faith, then betrays him; he is uncertain, trusting, then angry and motivated by massive revenge.


Recommended as an excellent vehicle for admiring JB. He is tanned, slender, and toned. There is a beautifully lit profile shot, too.


Devil's Island red-and-white striped baggy prison uniform. JB’s hair is very curly in this role.


"Sometimes slick and skillful and entertaining" but not worth the time. "Tries to be whodunit and soap opera, traditional thriller and theological mystery... surprisingly literate potboiler, despite its melange of bad and good." Arthur Ungar, Christian Science Monitor, 11/10/1978, p.22.


Le Brun is killed, but as the older man (played by Moody), so no death scene for JB.


Miniseries filmed in London, Amsterdam, Rome, California. (The cliffs on Devil's Island appear to have been filmed in Orange County, California.)


1 min, 45 seconds, in 8 scenes, plus two repeats, 7 hours into series. (In video version, 2 hours, 20 minutes in.)


James Whitmore, Jr. (RAG 9/1980; HMS 9/1985; HUNB 11/1985)