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 ...
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?


To prepare for his role in this film, actor Christopher Reeve researched religion and Catholicism by visiting the Centre for Alternative Religious Broadcasting in Washington, a Paulist's retreat in New Jersey and for six weeks, the Paulist Fathers Order's Archdiocese in New York City. See more »


At the end of his Requiem Mass in the field, Father Flaherty says "Requiescat in pace." The Mass, however, was clearly celebrated (as would be expected in a war zone) for more than one person (as indicated by plural pronouns in a previous prayer). In that case, the correct verb form would be "Requiescant" and not "Requiescat." See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Hellcats (1990) See more »


Serenade in Blue
Music by Harry Warren
Played at the wedding reception
See more »

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User Reviews

There aren't enough 'Hail Mary's in the world for this one...
11 January 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The tag-line for this film begins "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned".

And that's not so much being said by the protagonist of "Monsignor" but by the director, actors, writers, best boys, gaffers, caterers and the guys who swept the floor afterwards on this disaster.

As the "Monsignor" of the title, Christopher Reeve plays a man who moves his way up through the Catholic church through dubious means - murder, theft, the Black Market during WWII... you know, the usual stuff. And there's even enough time for him to seduce a nun (Bujold)!

I know next to nothing about Catholicism, so I cannot say what if any of this kind of activity holds any validity. But what does this mean: that those involved in the Vatican's business affairs are only bookkeepers who work under the guise of religion for otherwise nefarious means? I'd hope not, but this movie seems to think otherwise.

Reeve is a good actor, always will be. What he saw in this kind of film is beyond me. Maybe he thought (like Faye Dunaway did in "Mommie Dearest") that something so broad and unimaginably coarse could only be played as a comedy, so why not just go with the flow?

And if he thought that, he was right! "Monsignor" has scenes that play as out-and-out comedy; never have you seen so many (unintentional?) sight gags in your life, and the stony faces that permeate this film might make you believe that Buster Keaton must have been a busy man at one time or another.

So, "Monsignor" is a bad film, but it's also good for one of those nights when you have a few friends over, a few beers, lots of popcorn and nothing better to do than have a few laughs at someone else's expense.

Those involved in organized religion, say.

Two stars. Eight if you're an agnostic.

13 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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