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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')
Paul Rogers ...
George Pravda ...
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


All the dramatic power of the best-selling novel is now on the screen! See more »




G | See all certifications »

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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?


One of three occasions in his career where John Gielgud played a pope. The other two were The Scarlet and the Black (1983), where he played Pope Pius XII, and Elizabeth (1998), where he played Pope Pius V. 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 »


George Faber: It's the Russian. Kiril Lakota. They've elected a Russian Pope.
See more »


Featured in MGM: When the Lion Roars: The Lion in Winter (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

one of my favorite films
6 May 2002 | by (Kansas City, KS) – See all my reviews

Technically, this is not a great film, but I'm still a sucker for Shoes of the Fisherman. I love its idealism. As a Catholic, I love the vision of courage that this film holds out for the Church -- it is the way I wish it really were. This film has an epic quality to it, with expansive, lavish settings and a rich texture. This is one of the few films I can watch again and again and enjoy every time.

This movie is not without its flaws. The editing is awkward and the film could have been tightened a bit (okay, a lot!). One of the things that bugs me is how the character of Cardinal Rinaldi (the Vatican Secretary of State played by Vittorio De Sica, who is pivotal in the early part of the movie) disappears in the second half without any explanation.

Also, the sub-plot with David Janssen as a philandering television reporter is annoying and superfluous. His only redeeming contribution is in how, during his reports, he provides good exposition about the traditions involved in burying one pope and electing the next.

But these things pale next to Oskar Werner's wonderful, understated perfomance as a philosopher/archeologist/priest who becomes friends with the soon-to-be Pope Kiril. (This character, Fr. David Telemond, is clearly based on Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.) The relationship of suspicion and affection between these two men is very engaging.

Werner has one of the best lines in the film when, after his character is censored by a pontifical commission, he says, "The Church. I hate her, still I cannot leave her. I love her, still I cannot live in her in peace." I think that line is beautiful and sums up the way many Catholics feel!

Finally, I have to say that I am not a big Anthony Quinn fan. I usually found him to be hammy. (I think he got a little too much mileage out of his Zorba schtick!) But in this film, he is wonderfully restrained. He gives a soulful performance as a reluctant hero who has suffered much and now only wants to be left in peace, but who also feels the call of his God and his fellow human beings. In my opinion, even though it is largely ignored by the critics, Quinn gave his best performance in Shoes of the Fisherman.

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