John Brown’s Body at San Quentin Prison
Award-winning editor and filmmaker Joe De Francesco’s astonishing film of the three-years in the making live-stage production at San Quentin prison of Stephen Vincent Benet’s
dramatic poem, John Brown’s Body. Benet’s epic work is one of the finest pieces of its kind in American literature. At its core is the striking revelation of the roots of endemic American racism. De Francesco captured this stunning perspective and directed the 1st-ever dynamic staging of John Brown’s Body, with all inmate actors under often bizarre circumstances. (Charles Laughton adapted and created a highly-regarded Broadway staged-reading of the poem in 1953
with Tyrone Power, Raymond Massey, Judith Anderson et al. ) De Francesco gave it life — movement and visual composition and he included the live music that Walter Schumann originally composed for Laughton. The San Quentin performance is as contemporary today as Benet’s masterpiece was in 1928.