Born Again (film)

Born Again is a 1978 American biographical film depicting the involvement of Charles W. Colson in the Watergate scandal, his subsequent conversion to Christianity, and his prison term stemming from Watergate. It starred Dean Jones as Colson, Anne Francis as his wife, Dana Andrews as Tom Phillips, Harry Spillman as President Nixon, former Senator Harold Hughes as himself, and George Brent in his final film. The director was old Hollywood classic filmmaker Irving Rapper, and the film was released by Avco Embassy Pictures. The cinematography was by Harry Stradling Jr.

Born Again
Film poster
Directed byIrving Rapper
Produced byFrank Capra Jr.
Written byWalter Bloch
Based onBorn Again
by Charles Colson
Music byLes Baxter
CinematographyHarry Stradling Jr.
Edited byAxel Hubert Sr.
Distributed byAVCO Embassy Pictures
Release date
  • September 29, 1978 (1978-09-29) (Washington, D.C.)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million

The film's title theme song "Born Again", with music by Les Baxter and lyrics by Craig Johnson, was sung by Larnelle Harris.


As President Richard Nixon's Special Counsel, Colson had his own office in the White House, with power and prestige. After Watergate, he had a prison record and a strong faith. Colson, played by Dean Jones, pleads guilty to Watergate-related charges and is sent to prison. The experience leaves him radically changed, and he decides to establish Prison Fellowship – a ministry that now reaches around the world.[1]


Production notes

Born Again was filmed from December 14, 1977, to February 8, 1978, at these locations in Washington, D.C.: the Capitol Building, the White House, the Executive Office Building, the Justice Department, the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, and the Watergate complex.

Some on-location exteriors were filmed in California; the Los Angeles County Superior Court stood in for Judge Gesell's Washington courtroom, and the Chino penitentiary known officially as the California Institution for Men doubled as the federal prison camp on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, where Colson served his sentence. Soundstage interiors filmed at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, California included replicas of the offices for H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Colson, to which Colson donated several items.[2]

At the time, Born Again had the highest budget for any religious film and was the first to be released by a major distributor.


The world premiere of Born Again was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on September 24, 1978; in attendance at the premiere were Charles Colson, actors Dean Jones and Jay Robinson, associate producer Paul Temple, and former senator Harold Hughes.

Two hundred prints of the film were released over a series of two-week periods in three successive regional waves:

The film's producers partnered with a religious public-relations expert to promote the film in the Christian community nationwide. The outreach campaign included premieres to benefit Colson’s charity, Prison Fellowship.


Jones's performance was well received.

From the TV Guide review: "In Born Again Colson (played by Jones) realizes the error of his ways and is born again. His faith sustains him through his prison term. In this sympathetic script, Colson emerges as an innocent who is drawn into the devious machinations of Washington without his actually engaging in anything untoward."[3]

DVD release

On January 13, 2009, a 30th-anniversary edition of the film was released on DVD in Region 1 by Crown Movie Classics.


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