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The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)

G | | Drama | 14 November 1968 (USA)
Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Premier Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
The Elder Pope (as Sir John Gielgud)
Rosemary Dexter ...
Chiara (as Rosemarie Dexter)
Igor Bounin
Chairman Peng
Gelasio (as Arnoldo Foa')
Gorshenin (credit only)
Tovarich Vucovich


Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. The world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota's genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now deal with his own self-doubt, the struggle of his friend Fr. Telemond who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, and find a solution to the crisis in China. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In a last desperate effort to prevent World War III, one man is chosen to succeed where all the world's leaders have failed. That man was once a prisoner in a Russian labor camp. He is now the Pope. See more »




G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

14 November 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Sandálias do Pescador  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the scene where the conclave electrician call to his companion, the spanish dubbing changed the name from "Franco" to "Angelo". At that time of the film, in Spain the head of the state was the dictator Francisco ...Franco. See more »


When Dr. Faber starts to place her dying patient's arm under the bed sheets, he reaches under the covers by himself. See more »


Fr. David Telemond: It is strange.
Fr. David Telemond: When a president dies, he's replaced within an hour.
Fr. David Telemond: When a king dies, long live the king.
Fr. David Telemond: When a pope dies, everything stops.
See more »

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User Reviews

Great performances and little else
25 July 2002 | by (Trivandrum, Kerala, India) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film in 1971 and was in awe of the selection process of the Pontiff that the film presented in lengthy yet pleasing detail. Even today it would be difficult to access the locations within the Vatican the film showed. The real hero of the film is Morris L West, the author of the book, who could foresee the selection of a Pope from a Communist country, just as H G Wells predicted the landing on the moon.

The mainstay of the film beyond the story are the performers (in order of merit): Oscar Werner, Anthony Quinn, Leo McKern, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Vittorio De Sica, and David Janssen.

This was probably the finest performance of Oscar Werner. It is indeed unfortunate that he did not live to endear us long after this movie was made.

Quinn on the other hand had played somewhat similar roles; his "Barrabas" was very close to this one and probably a richer performance; so was his "25th Hour" where he has to suffer when he is mistaken for a Jew in a Nazi labour camp. Quinn finest moment, and probably the film's strongest scene, was the incognito Pope praying as a Jewish rabbi would at the bedside of a sick man. The lines following the scene with Barbara Jefford (the Doctor wife of a TV reporter) spoken by Quinn "You never mentioned the word love" is probably one of the few strong lines in a lackadaisical script that are truly uplifting.

Leo McKern is a good actor and I would rate this performance as his second best--second only to his Ryan in Lean's "Ryan's Daughter". The scene where he admits his guilt of being jealous is very well developed.

De Sica is good always great as an actor and as a director. After great scenes in the beginning of the film, De Sica's character vanishes which is a major flaw in the film. John Gielgud has played a Pope often ("Becket" for one) that he just slips into the role like a glove.

Laurence Olivier is great to watch but ridiculous to hear him deliver his lines. Even though he is able to play the role of the Russian leader well, his Russian English based on a heavy "th" sound only provides amusement. This would have succeeded had he persisted in bringing more Russian sounds in his speech. In comparison, Frank Finlay is more Russian than Olivier in this film. Actress Rosemary Dexter has proved her acting capability in Swedish films providing good foil to reputed actresses like Bibi Andersen; yet she has got insignificant roles in films like this one.

The screenplay and direction are weak but the subplots involving David Janssen and Oscar Werner add life to the listless screenplay. Though the movie has its strong moments, the intervention of international politics involving superpowers make the film and West's story unbelievable.

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