After an extensive talent search, producer-director Otto Preminger selected a 17-year-old unknown from Iowa, Jean Seberg, to play Joan of Arc, a role traditionally portrayed by actresses twice to three times Seberg's age. Seberg is cast opposite such venerable pros as Richard Todd (as Dunois), Anton Walbrook (the Bishop of Beauvais), John Gielgud (Earl of Warwick) and Felix Aylmer (The Inquisitor). Cast as the vacillating Dauphin is Richard Widmark. Graham Greene's screenplay refashions the original Shaw text in the form of a flashback. Seberg eventually became an accomplished actress by virtue of her appearances in such nouvelle vague films as Breathless, but it was too late to salvage Saint Joan, which was figuratively burned at the stake by critics and filmgoers alike.
by Hal Erickson synopsis