(1960)3.5Mike CummingsIn its attempt to expose the marrow of the novel on which it is based, this film fails to penetrate the surface of its characters and the complexity of events motivating them. Jerking helter-skelter from one character to the next, or from one situation to the next, it tries to capture too much of the plot of the Leon Uris book and ends up with a bramble of episodes and flimsy character development. The acting is generally strong, however. Sal Mineo, in particular, is superb as 15-year-old Dov Landau, a fiery Jewish patriot and Auschwitz survivor who joins a group of extremist freedom fighters. Lee J. Cobb (portraying political conservative Barak Ben Canaan) and Jill Haworth (portraying Landau's girlfriend, Karen) also play their roles adeptly. Although Paul Newman performs well enough as Jewish leader Ari Ben Canaan (Barak's son), his physical attributes -- notably the blue eyes and light hair -- rob him of a small measure of credibility. Other important aspects of the film -- including the cinematography, the action sequences, and the Oscar-winning music -- are well worth the cost of renting the video and investing the three-and-a-half hours required to watch it. As a history lesson, Exodus comes up a little short in its occasional deviation from factual accounts about the birth of Israel, although it still presents enough of the real story to educate viewers about the basic facts.