As the story opens in Cyprus, several hundred Jewish refugees have just been taken off a boat headed for Palestine and incarcerated in a British prison camp. Jewish activist Ari Ben Canaan (Paul Newman) decides to stage a mass escape and send them all to Palestine on a new ship, which is dubbed "Exodus." On board the ship are teen refugees Karen and Dov (Sal Mineo) and Kitty Freeman (Eva Marie Saint), an American nurse.
It was a formidable task trying to transfer the huge novel to the screen, and it isn't completely successful. Newman is an odd choice, but gives a good performance as the stalwart hero. Saint is completely wrong for her part; she's unattractive and unappealing. The script doesn't help either; their so-called romance is practically non-existent. Sal Mineo was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his convincing portrayal of a child who survived the Warsaw ghetto.
The soundtrack by Ernest Gold is magnificent and the movie is actually filmed on location. While it may be a disappointment to those who have read the book, "Exodus" is still interesting and even inspiring.