John Wesley (film)

John Wesley is a 1954 British historical film directed by Norman Walker and starring Leonard Sachs, Neil Heayes and Keith Pyott.[1] It depicts the life of the father of Methodism, John Wesley.[2] The film was financed by J. Arthur Rank, a prominent Methodist layman, and with contributions from the church.[3]

John Wesley
Directed byNorman Walker
Produced byClifford Jeapes
Screenplay byLawrence Barrett
StarringLeonard Sachs
Neil Heayes
Keith Pyott
Music byHenry Reed
CinematographyHone Glendinning
Edited byDuncan Spence
David Powell (as Dave Powell)
G.H.W. Productions
Radio and Film Commission of the Methodist Church in co-operation with J.Arthur Rank
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 20 April 1954 (1954-04-20) (US)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Rescued from a burning house as a child, John Wesley (Leonard Sachs) believes the experience marked him for a higher purpose, a ‘brand from the burning.’ The film follows Wesley's years at Oxford and as a clergyman, his disagreements with the church over the social position of the clergy, his mission to America, the founding of Methodism, and his bringing of the Gospel into the lives of ordinary people.


Critical reception

Allmovie wrote, "the budget didn't allow for a professional cast, thus many potentially worthwhile scenes are laid low by amateurish acting. On the other hand, the film is quite slick and accomplished on a technical level, thanks to the first-rate cinematography of Hone Glendenning and the assured direction of Norman Walker";[4] while TV Guide gave the film three out of five stars, noting, "This handsomely mounted biography of the title Methodist leader was originally conceived as a short black-and-white film, but was expanded to include more of Wesley's life and work...The plot is minimal, focusing on the young Wesley's studies and the development of his principles, but the production values are excellent and Leonard Sachs' Wesley is superb. The initial release of the film went to some 500 churches that contributed to the $200,000 budget in return for first rights on viewing."[3]


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