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Stephen Fermoyle has grown up in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century knowing that his destiny lies with the Catholic priesthood. Finally finishing his studies in Rome, he returns to America full of certitude and ambition to one day join the College of Cardinals. But his road to that office is a long one, paved with crises. In Boston, he must decide whether to save the life of his sister or her unborn child, conceived out of wedlock. In Austria, he confronts the question of whether to remain with the priesthood or abandon his oath so that he can be with the woman he loves. In Georgia, he contends with Rome's indifference in the face of racial bigotry. And in Austria, he finds himself personally involved in the church's dealings with the Third Reich. Written by
Shannon Patrick Sullivan <email@example.com>
The movie includes one real-life character and incident. In 1938, Bishop Fermoyle is sent to Vienna to deal with Cardinal Theodor Innitzer (played by Josef Meinrad), the real-life Archbishop of Vienna. Innitzer's public support for the "Anschluss" annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany put him at odds with the Vatican, who ordered him to retract his statement of support. In the months following the annex, the Nazis reneged on their earlier agreements with the Church of Vienna, and prohibited Church institutions and Catholic newspapers. Afterwards, Innitzer became a critic of the Nazi regime. In October, 1938 (as seen in the film), Innitzer held a Catholic rally in Vienna, in which he proclaimed, "There is just one Führer: Jesus Christ." The following day (also seen in the film), a Nazi mob stormed Innitzer's Vienna offices and ransacked the Archbishop's residence. See more »
As Father Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon) crosses the street to enter a Boston pawn shop (approximately 00:52), the shadows of an arc light and grip stand are seen on the pavement during a sweeping pan. See more »
We've never had a priest working with the Mafia before. But I suppose you made some interesting contacts in Rome.
I had no choice, Your Eminence. I had to work my way through the seminary by selling opium in St. Peter's Square.
You're not afraid of me.
Why not? Most people are.
I think it's because you remind me of my father. He was known as "Den the Down Shouter," but I soon learned his roar was the only fierce thing about him.
He's a lucky man to have a son who's not afraid of him.
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Episodic View of Catholicism in the Early 20th Century
Based on an early 1950's bestseller, producer/director Otto Preminger's lush religious spectacle pits a Catholic priest from Boston against many of the controversies that dogged the Church during the first half of the 20th century. As the young priest rises in rank to Monsignor, Bishop, and eventually Cardinal, he must tackle abortion, inter-faith marriage, racial discrimination, Nazism, and self-doubts about his own religious calling before the nearly three-hour film reaches the closing credits. Despite its episodic nature, "The Cardinal" is an entertaining film, generally well acted, and filmed by master cinematographer Leon Shamroy against some of the most beautiful landscapes and interiors that Rome and Vienna can offer. The Jerome Moross score enhances the beauty of the visuals and provides an appropriate mood that is haunting and liturgical in tone. While Tom Tryon as the Cardinal, Stephen Fermoyle, does his best, a stronger actor with greater screen presence might have anchored the film and given it greater stability. Tryon at times appears colorless and unconvincing as a man who could rise so quickly and to such heights in the Italian-dominated Church bureaucracy. The film's acting honors instead go expectedly to such veterans as John Huston, Raf Vallone, and Burgess Meredith. Also, the film has dated somewhat as the conflicts depicted between events and Church dogma have been for the most part left in the past, abortion excepted. Perhaps a sequel is in order with Cardinal, or maybe Pope by now, Stephen Fermoyle faced with pedophile priests, gay marriage, and a Church that has lost many of its followers over the decades. But, despite the diminished relevance, "The Cardinal" remains a comforting old fashioned view of the Roman Catholic Church during a period when the mass was said in Latin, the celibacy of a priest was unquestioned, fish was eaten on Fridays, the sacraments were taken seriously, and a poor son of Irish immigrants could rise from Boston curate to Cardinal without showing any more signs of aging than a light dusting of powder on his full head of thick hair.
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