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Monday, March 13, 2017

The Cardinal (1963)

As the clouds of war hover over Europe, a newly appointed Cardinal (Tom Tryon) in the Catholic church reflects back to 1917 when he was first ordained a priest and his long journey to the position he now holds. Based on the novel by Henry Morton Robinson and directed by Otto Preminger. The film crams a lot into its lengthy running time (three hours with an intermission): the priest's sister's (Carol Lynley) romance with a Jew (John Saxon), the church's weakness when dealing with racism in the 1930s South, the priest falling in love with a woman (Romy Schneider), Hitler's rise to power and the Church's concessions to Nazism etc. It's a lot for one movie to handle and the heavy handedness weighs down the movie. The one character that we stay with through out the entire movie is, of course, the priest and poor Tom Tryon just isn't a strong enough actor to carry the burden which fatally compromises the film. All in all, the film comes across as much an advertisement for the Catholic church as GOING MY WAY or THE EXORCIST although it was made before all the skeletons in the church's closet came tumbling out. There's a powerful score by Jerome Moross. The large cast includes Burgess Meredith, Raf Vallone, Robert Morse, Jill Haworth, Maggie McNamara, Patrick O'Neal, Ossie Davis, Murray Hamilton, Cecil Kellaway and in an Oscar nominated performance, John Huston.   

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