The Story of Ruth

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The Story of Ruth
The Story of Ruth original theatrical release poster.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Henry Koster
Produced by Samuel G. Engel
Written by Norman Corwin
Based on Book of Ruth
Starring Stuart Whitman
Tom Tryon
Peggy Wood
Viveca Lindfors
Jeff Morrow
Elana Eden
Narrated by Eduard Franz
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Arthur E. Arling
Edited by Jack W. Holmes
Samuel G. Engel Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
Running time 132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,930,000[1]
Box office $3,000,000[2]
(North American rentals)

The Story of Ruth is a 1960 American historical romance film directed by Henry Koster, shot in CinemaScope (color by DeLuxe Color), and released by 20th Century Fox.[3] The screenplay, written by Norman Corwin, is an adaptation of the biblical Book of Ruth. The film stars Stuart Whitman as Boaz, Tom Tryon as Mahlon, Peggy Wood as Naomi, Viveca Lindfors as Eleilat, Jeff Morrow as Tob, and introduces Elana Eden as Ruth.[4]


The first part of the film revolves around Ruth, visualized as a pagan idolatress in her youth who serves as the spiritual teacher of a young Moabitess girl, Tebah, who is being prepared to be sacrificed to Chemosh, a Moabite deity. High-priestess Eleilat, along with Ruth, instruct Mahlon, a Judean artisan, to polish Tebah's ritual crown. Mahlon delivers the crown to Ruth at the temple and he begins to question her about the existence of Chemosh. Ruth becomes doubtful of her religion and ultimately falls in love with Mahlon, sharing an interest in monotheism. This fictional non-biblical part ends with the sight of the Moabite girl being sacrificed, from which a frightened, astonished Ruth flees and seeks refuge with Mahlon and his family. The Moabites condemn Mahlon, his father, and brother. Chilion and Elimelech die in the prison, while Mahlon's punishment is to work at the quarries for the rest of his life. Ruth, however, attempts to escape with Mahlon but he is wounded before he flees the quarries and dies in a cave afterwards, marrying Ruth just prior to his death. The biblical storyline begins as Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth are widowed. The second part is based more on the Book of Ruth, although a subplot is added, that of the Bethlehemites' initial disapproval of Ruth's pagan past and Naomi's closest kinsman rejecting Ruth as his wife. As the next of kin after him, Boaz successfully obtains Ruth's hand in marriage. As the film concludes, the final verses of the Book of Ruth are quoted.



Title card

Director Henry Koster originally wanted Susan Strasberg for the role of Ruth, but 20th Century Fox did not agree with Koster and decided to cast Elana Eden, an Israeli stage actress, instead.[5]


  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. p252
  2. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  3. ^ "The Story of Ruth" (1960) Retrieved 2-20-11
  4. ^ "Elana Eden - The Private Life and Times of Elana Eden". Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Davis, Ronald L. (2005). Just Making Movies: Company Directors On The Studio System. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 21. ISBN 9781617033643. 

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