Monsignor (1982)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, War  |  22 October 1982 (USA)
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An ambitious priest seduces a nun and leads the Vatican into shady business during and after World War II.



(novel) (as Jack Alain Leger) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father John Flaherty
Cardinal Santoni
Don Vito Appolini
Ludovico 'Lodo' Varese (as Joseph Cortese)
Cardinal Vinci
The Pope
Father Francisco
Bishop Walkman (as Robert J. Prosky)
Pvt. Joe Musso
Sister Verna
Ian Danby ...
Gregory Snegoff ...
1st Soldier
Harrison Muller Jr. ...
2nd Soldier
David Mills ...


John Flaherty is a young and ambitious American priest who arrives in the Papal sovereign city state of the Vatican in 1944 to take his holy orders as a Catholic priest. After distinguishing himself in combat in the World War II battlefields of northern Italy, he's assigned as the Vatican treasurer. With the Vatican strapped for money during the war, Flaherty soon makes illegal business deals with a corrupt U.S. Army sergeant named Varese, who deals goods on the local black market, which is connected to a ruthless Sicilian mobster named Don Appolini. Appolini agrees to fund Flaherty's operation for profit through his Swiss bank connections. Flaherty's mentor, Cardinal Santoni, the secretary to the elderly but powerful Pope, learns of Flaherty's business deals, but covers for Flaherty in order for them to rise in the ranks of the church against Santoni's rival, Cardinal Vinci. But Flaherty's double life as a black marketeer and priest takes a turn when he falls in love with a young ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

priest | catholic | nun | money | sicilian | See All (58) »


Forgive me, Father for I have sinned. I have killed for my Country, I have stolen for my Church, I have loved a Woman, and I am a Priest.


Crime | Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 October 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monseñor  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Apparently, producer Frank Yablans's didn't read Jack-Alain Léger's 'Monsignor' source novel before he decided to make this movie, Yablans allegedly "fell in love with the concept" and decided to make the film purely on the basis of an English synopsis of the French book. See more »


At Fr. Flaherty's ordination, the presiding bishop speaks of "several of the young priests we have today ordained" enlisting as military chaplains. The shot then shows him and his fellow ordinands listening to the bishop's address, but all of them are wearing wearing their stoles over their left shoulders. This is the style appropriate to deacons; if they had been ordained, their stoles should be hanging around their necks. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Rocketship X-M (1990) See more »


(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo
Music by Harry Warren
Played at the wedding reception
See more »

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User Reviews

Could have been great
12 February 2015 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

As Christopher Reeve said himself, this movie could have been really good but the bad editing ruined it. And I wholeheartedly agree. It was a pretty bold movie, even for the bold 80's: a tale of a Vatican priest who deals with the mafia, seduces a nun and takes up arms in the war, bloodying his hands. This was clearly still a taboo, any kind of negative portrayal of the Catholic church and the Vatican. But somewhere during its 2 hours this movie lost its boldness and became just another failed experiment with an interesting idea.

In the year 1982, Reeve was clearly looking to establish himself as a serious actor and it couldn't have been easy for a guy who so convincingly looks like a superhero and who came to prominence as THE superhero. He was in Deathtrap that same year and did well in that part. One might say that this role has something in common with that one, because he plays an opportunist who is morally unclean. This movie has a really top notch cast, with Jason Miller, Fernando Rey and Genevieve Bujold as the brightest part of it. Miller, though somewhat miscast in the role of the Sicilian mafioso, brings the dark intensity similar to the one in his role as Father Karass. Only difference is, here he has a mustache. Joe Cortese is also good in the part of Reeve's old friend who becomes his business partner and the link with Miller. Fernando Rey plays the part of cardinal Santoni, who represents the political side of Vatican, the ambitious and power-hungry priest who is willing to close an eye to illegal stuff in order to achieve his own goals.

Anyway, this movie is interesting to follow but sometimes it can't decide whether it wants to be a drama about corruption and moral or a love movie. Some scenes are well shot and gripping, like the scene where the nun played by Bujold discovers Reeve's true identity and occupation. It is the dramatic highpoint of the film. But the love story lasts too short to really give the movie the edge it needs, another angle. Christopher Reeve is one of the film's bright points because he really does make his character believable. He's a priest who tried to be both a priest and a man. I guess you can say that this is the ultimate theme of the film, how hard it is to be a priest and give up the good things in life in order to serve God.

I think it's a great shame that this film has been largely forgotten and scorned by the critics and by the audiences. For despite it's editorial flaws and despite the screenplay not holding up till the very end, it still can be an interesting watch and a spiritual lesson.

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