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Based of the Graham Greene novel about a revolutionary priest in Central America. A priest who is The Fugitive is trying to getaway from the authorities who have denounced Christianity and want anyone linked to it dead. The Fugitive finds shelter with an Indian Woman (The Woman), a faithful parishioner, who gives the priest directions to Puerto Grande, where he could then board a ship and sail to freedom in America. On his journey to Puerto Grande, he meets up with a man who says he will protect him. In reality, he is the Police Informer and once The Fugitive realizes this, he is back on the run, but the Police Informer is never far behind along with the authorities. Written by
Better than anything out "Butler's Lives of the Saints"
Hmmm, let's see... we've got a movie about a Catholic priest trying to exercise his ministry in a Latin American country whose government has been taken over by an anticlerical revolutionary party,... he administers the sacraments to the devoutly believing people while trying to stay one step ahead of the law, which has hunted down every other priest in the country,... what do you this movie will be like?
In the hands of the crusty but sentimental John Ford, you might expect this movie to be some kind of hagiography, showing the priest as he performs his pastoral labors with fierce courage as well as with patient devotion, and anticipates his fate with Christian resignation. (This would be particularly apt if Pat O'Brien or Spencer Tracy played the priest.) You might also expect the people he serves will be portrayed as simple God-fearing people with stout hearts and no illusions about the true intentions of their political leaders. The government and its agents will be portrayed as cruel and cynical tyrants, ever ready to beat on the simple folk in the name of the greater good.
Fortunately, this is not the movie that Ford made. The actual movie is a good deal more complicated (and much, much better) than that. This is a balanced, intelligent account of a tragic situation born of centuries of misrule and oppression by tyrannical government working, sad to say, hand in glove with the Church that is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Pedro Amendariz in particular gives a great performance as the revolutionary government official, who, whatever his opinions may be, passionately loves his country, and sincerely wants the best for his beleaguered people. Henry Fonda, as the priest, gives at one point a stunning assessment of his motives for what he does which turns any picture of a heroic shepherd on its ear.
This is one of John Ford's lesser known pictures - an unknown masterpiece.
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