Agony and the Ecstasy, The (1965): Carol Reed Directs Charlton Heston as Artist Michelangelo

Based on Irvin Stone’s best-selling novel, lugubriously adapted to the screen by Philip Dunne, Carol Reed’s flawed film depicts the conflict of wills between Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison, right after his Oscar win for “My Fair Lady”) and the famed sculptor Michelangelo (Charlton Heston) about the Sistine Chapel.

Veering between the modern and the historical, the dialogue by Dunne is anachronistic, as when the Pope insists to know, “When will you make an end of it?” That said, Leon Shamroy’s color cinematography offers beautiful vistas as minor compensation.

Oscar Nominations: 5

Cinematography (color): Leon Shamroy

Art Direction-Set Decoration (color): John DeCuir and Jack Martin Smith; Dario Simoni

Sound: James P. Corcoran

Costume Design (color): Vittorio Nino Novares

Original Score: Alex North

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

Shamroy lost the Cinematography Oscar to Freddie Young, who won for David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago,” a blockbuster that also won awards for Art Direction, for Maurice Jarre’s Score, and for Phyllis Dalton’s costumes. Robert Wise’s musical “The Sound of Music” swept most of the Oscars in 1965, including Sound.