review for The Story of Ruth on AllMovie

The Story of Ruth (1960)
by Craig Butler review

The Story of Ruth deserves points for trying to be something different, namely an intimate Biblical spectacular. Most films in this genre, whether they are beloved or reviled by a particular viewer, are notable for their lavishness: even those who can't stand them tend to get caught up at least in the sheer spectacle. Since this emphasis on spectacle often causes the film to lose track of character development, it's laudable that Ruth, while hardly a cheap picture, makes a concerted effort to keep its crowds manageable and its special effects in hand so that its story and the characters involved can be thrown into focus. Unfortunately, Ruth's Biblical source is slight and very thin, necessitating the creation of a history and a backstory for all the characters involved, and here the filmmakers fall short of their goals. Rather than concocting a vivid story and human characters, they fall back on trite situations and flimsy personalities. Still, the earnestness and sincerity of director Henry Koster and screenwriter Norman Corwin does comes through, and that will be more than enough for many viewers. In the title role, Elana Eden is very attractive but doesn't score many dramatic points; although he's better, much the same could also be said of Tom Tryon. Stuart Whitman is much better as Boaz, and Peggy Wood is excellent as Ruth's mother-in-law.