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Peale used persuasion and magnified the messages of Jesus. He was criticized for interpreting the messages as a way to use God instead of letting God use men. He probably lifted more souls than any other Christian in the 20th Century altho I am sure the Popes gave hope to many, the path of papal influence was more predictable and dependent on prior teachings than the energized and focussed positivism of Peale. If the numbers are correct his church in NYC increased 20 fold within a short period of time and it was due entirely to the freshness and vigor of his message and not to the time honored tradition and influence of the Church which had 1900 years lead time on Peale. Murray does a wonderful job as Peale. And the Hyland character is genius too. Well scripted and composed. Would like to know what others think of the story and what place it holds for our world today.
Although I have not seen the film in quite a while, I still remember the Rev. Peale's sermon on death and dying from it. Just as appropriate today as it was then, Rev.Peale spoke about parents of a dying child trying to comfort and prepare him for death. Likening it to awakening in a different place, they told him "Mommy and Daddy will see you in the morning" The memorable line was again replayed upon Dr.Peale's death in the movie, with his devoted wife telling their son that they indeed would "see him in the morning" A message of hope in a troubled world! Don Murray does an excellent job in portraying arguably the greatest prelate of our time, displaying not only his strengths but his faults as well.
By many standards Norman Vincent Peale might have been the most
successful Protestant minister of the last century. In one instance he
has my respect, at least he wasn't one of those reverends with the
pompadour hair constantly begging for money to spread the gospel. As
pastor of one of the largest and oldest Protestant main line churches
he had a lot of rich parishioners and his collection plate was never
His book The Power Of Positive Thinking sold and still sells well today. I read it years ago. Basically it says if you have faith and confidence you can overcome all. Many have called it Coueism laced with Jesus and a lot in the mental health field derided its message. That was one of the many controversies surrounding his life.
The film takes us from his childhood where young Mickey Sholdar tells his minister father William Windom that no way is he going to grow up and be a minister. Then after a try at journalism Peale now played by Don Murray goes into his father's profession and after a long campaign woos and wins Diana Hyland as his wife. Along the way we see Don Murray do a mean Charleston.
Stopping after the success and controversy of The Power Of Positive Thinking it does not deal with the more political aspects of his ministry. Peale was a thorough going Republican whose endorsement of Dwight D. Eisenhower was a highly prized thing. Peale and Adlai Stevenson had quite a set to during the 1956 campaign when Stevenson quipped after the Ike endorsement that he found "Paul appealing and Peale appalling". Adlai's divorce upset Peale, he felt a divorced man should not be president.
Stevenson had occasion to repeat his quip in 1960 when Peale made his biggest faux pas ever by joining a group of Protestant ministers who signed denounced John F. Kennedy for his Catholicism and said he wasn't equipped for the job with divided loyalties that Catholics by nature have to have. Peale never recovered from that and its significant that this biographical tribute film which came out in 1964 didn't go into that part of Peale's career. After the Kennedy debacle he eschewed politics for the rest of his life.
Murray and Hyland made a fine pair of leads and this film is certainly the way Dr. Norman Vincent Peale saw himself and his place in the world.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like 1955s "A Man Called Peter" and 1961s "The Hoodlum Priest", 1964s
"One Man's Way" is a tightly focused study of one man and his
unshakable faith in God and himself. Collectively this trio of films
affirms for all believers, but most especially for those in full time
service, the paramount necessity of those twin pillars of faith if one
is to survive, to adapt from William Shakespeare, the slings and arrows
of outrageous society. Individually each film deals with unique yet
often similar personalities, providing us with some interesting
insights as to what motivated whom and why.
In "A Man Called Peter", we are first introduced to a young boy seized with the notion of going to sea. Years later an adult Peter Marshall, walking in a blinding fog across the Scottish moors, believes it is the voice of God that saves him from a perilous tumble into a lime pit. A life-changing event, that experience inaugurates his unshakable belief that 'The Chief' would always guide him to wherever he was meant to be.
"The Hoodlum Priest", Father Charles Dismas Clark was a Roman Catholic cleric whose equally unshakable faith propelled him into efforts to ensure that ex-convicts got a chance for a better life upon release from prison. The payoff was Dismas House, a halfway house established in St. Louis, Missouri, mandated to ease the transition from regimented prison routine to rehabilitated ex-con able to move beyond his criminal past.
"If the Lord ever calls me, I'm not going." So says a a very young Norman Vincent Peale in "One Man's Way", a film based upon the book "Minister To Millions" by Arthur Gordon. Somewhat loosely based upon Dr. Peale's life, the man became, like Dr. Marshall, a charismatic orator who filled empty churches. Unlike Dr. Marshall, he also went on to author a number of best selling books, most famously led by "The Power of Positive Thinking."
Sadly (at least for me) "One Man's Way" lacks the gravitas of the other two. Oscillating between synthetic biography and near Billy Graham polemic sans altar call, it never really establishes Peale as an either likable or interesting character about whom we should care. Playing off more as a cheapie made-for-television movie-of-the-week than compelling, theatrical motion picture, its only saving grace is the screen debut of Diana Hyland as Peale's hard-to-get, reluctant girlfriend/eventual spouse. But even there, we have no sense of how this woman with the notable lack of faith (a) handled the presumably ever present demons of her past thinking when those inevitable challenges/troubles arose or (b) more importantly, the transition from rebellious, near non-conformist to dutiful minister's wife dealing with the ladies who lunch and go to Dr. Peale's church. (Dr. Marshall's wife Catherine seems to have had no such issues mainly because she seemingly grew up a more conforming believer who went regularly to church.) Regrettably, William Windom and Virginia Christine as Peale's parents are, unsurprisingly, quagmired as one dimensional cardboard cutouts who deserved much better.
Interestingly, actor Don Murray essays the very disparate Father Dismas Clark and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale with the sort of unassailable sincerity he always brought to such endeavours. It's just too bad he didn't have as much to work with in this one because he showed in earlier efforts like "Bus Stop", "The Bachelor Party", "A Hatful Of Rain", "These Thousand Hills" and most especially "From Hell To Texas" a lot more depth and range than he gets to display in "One Man's Way." Indeed, because he also lacked the vocabulary of Richard Todd's Dr. Peter Marshall, Murray's preaching scenes are often annoying and long winded. An actor I have long admired, I am only sorry that I can't give this film more than a civil five.
Finally, three other titles worth checking out, "Dead Man Walking" with Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn and "Romero" with Raul Julia, both of which, also focus on specific full time service believers and social justice concerns. Also "The Cross and the Switchblade", the story of the Rev. David Wilkerson (portrayed by Pat Boone, directed by Don Murray) and Wilkerson's work with troubled street kids.
Boowah, you got your movies messed up. The movie you described was "A Man called Peter" starring Richard Todd. It was about Dr. Peter Marshall, NOT Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. The scenes you described for "One Man's Way" do not exist. At the time I saw "One Man's Way," I was beginning ministerial studies. In "One man's Way," Norman Peale couldn't decide for the first 20 minutes what he was going to do with his life. When he decided to pursue the ministry, it took him 10 minutes to get through seminary. Fifteen minutes later he had his doctorate. I thought, "Wow, if it's this easy, I'll have it made." Trust me, it takes a lot longer and it isn't that easy. Anyway, I'm glad one of these movies made a favorable impression on you.
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