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The Story of Ruth

The Story of Ruth (1960) starring Elena Eden, Peggy Wood, Viveca Lindfors, Tom Tryon, Stuart Whitman

Synopsis of The Story of Ruth

Inspired by the Biblical story. Moabitess priestess Ruth is drawn both to a Judean man and to his talk of a forgiving God. After tragedy strikes, she begins a new life in Bethlehem.

Ruth, a young Moabite woman, marries Mahlon the Judean, who believes in a merciful God. When he dies, she leaves her own culture to be with her mother-in-law, Naomi. They journey to Judea where Ruth faces hostility as a stranger. She wins the hearts of two powerful men, Boaz and Tob, who vie for her affections, but Ruth’s first loyalties are to Naomi and her faith.

Review of The Story of Ruth

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by The Story of Ruth.  It begins with Rush, a young priestess in the temple of Chemosh.  She lives among the cruel, pagan people of Moab.  When she hears of a god that is merciful, and loving, it runs counter to all that she knows.  And the sacrifice of a young child to Chemosh is coming soon.  And she begins falling in love with the young Hebrew that tells her of his invisible God with many names.

The Story of Ruth (1960) starring Elena Eden, Peggy Wood, Viveca Lindfors, Tom Tryon, Stuart WhitmanThen comes the sacrifice of the young child.  Ruth flees the ceremony weeping, as the child is killed.  Her Hebrew love, Mahlon is taken a prisoner, as is his brother and father.  The father and brother are murdered by the Moabites, and Mahlon put on trial.  He is sentenced to hard labor for the rest of his life, and Ruth is removed from her position.

After six months in solitary confinement, Ruth is released, in order to join the king’s “household” the next day.  She plans a daring escape for Mahlon, but he is mortally wounded.  They marry shortly before his death.  Ruth, Naomi and Orpah (Naomi’s other daughter-in-law) flee for Judah.

Once in Judah, there’s anti-Moabite bigotry to conflict with, and two relatives – Tob and Boaz – to fight over Ruth.  There’s also the rumor mill to contend with, and the inevitable courtship.

In short, I’m very pleasantly surprised by this Biblical epic.  There’s a lot of things added to the original story, but unlike others (such as Solomon and Sheba) the movie stays true to the spirit of the original story.  The acting is very good, as is the cinematography, sets, etc.  I recommend The Story of Rush highly.

Editorial review of The Story of Ruth courtesy of Amazon.com

Inspired by the tale from Hebrew scriptures and the Christian Bible, the Moabitess child Ruth is sold to the temple of Chemosh. Years pass and she serves as a priestess to the idol. While arranging a temple ritual, she encounters a Judean family of artisans: Elimelech, his wife Naomi, their sons Chilion and Mahlon, and daughter-in-law Orpah. Ruth is curious about their God, and begins to meet secretly with Mahlon. After tragedy strikes, Ruth follows Naomi and begins a new life in Bethlehem.

Cast of characters in The Story of Ruth

  • Ruth (Elana Eden).  The Moabitess, taken as a child into the pagan temple, who is introduced to the values of kindness, mercy, and love by Mahlon.  A very beautiful lady, and a very good actress.
  • Mahlon (Tom TryonThe CardinalThe Longest Day).  The goldsmith who meets Ruth when he’s hired to make a crown for the young girl – who is to be sacrificed.  He gradually changes Ruth’s mind, and then her heart.  An excellent performance.
  • Naomi (Peggy WoodThe Sound of Music).  Mahlon’s mother, who loses both of her sons and her husband.  She flees with Naomi to Judah, and has to deal with her loss, and Naomi’s trials.  A very good performance.
  • Tob (Jeff MorrowThis Island EarthThe Creature Walks Among Us).  Naomi’s nearest relative, who stands up for Ruth during her trial.  And contends with Boaz for Ruth’s affection.  
  • Boaz (Stuart WhitmanThe ComancherosNight of the Lepus).  At first his bitterness towards the Moabites causes conflict, but he eventually falls in love with Ruth’s character, and her beauty.