7.8/10
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The Scarlet and the Black (1983)

Vatican efforts, lead by Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, to save Allied POWs and downed Allied airmen as the Nazis invade Rome.

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Pope Pius XII (as Sir John Gielgud)
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Father Vittorio
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Capt. Hirsch (as Ken Colley)
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Gen. Max Helm
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Minna Kappler
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Angelo Infanti ...
Father Morosini
Olga Karlatos ...
Francesca Lombardo
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Reinhard Beck
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Count Langenthal
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Lt. Jack Manning
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Sir D'Arcy Osborne
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Storyline

Fr. Hugh O'Flaherty is a Vatican official in 1943-45 who has been hiding downed pilots, escaped prisoners of war, and Italian Resistance families. His diplomatic status in a Catholic country prevents Colonel Kappler from openly arresting him, but O'Flaherty's activities become so large that the Nazis decide to assassinate him the next time he leaves the Vatican. O'Flaherty continues his work in a variety of disguises. Based on a true story. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

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Details

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Release Date:

2 February 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Vatican Pimpernel  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of three occasions in his film career where John Gielgud played a pope. The other two were The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), where he played the fictional Pope Pius XIII, and Elizabeth (1998), where he played the real-life Pope Pius V. See more »

Goofs

When the priest, disguised as a Sturmbahnführer, is eluding his pursuers, the film is shown reversed; medal ribbons and collar insignia are on the wrong sides. See more »

Quotes

Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty: Colonel, do I get the idea that you're tryin' to put a crimp in my social life?
Col. Herbert Kappler: Damn you and damn your social life, priest!
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Connections

References Massacre in Rome (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Inspiring true-life adventure
8 April 2005 | by (Scarborough, England) – See all my reviews

I tuned to this by accident one evening on TV when it seemed there was nothing else worth watching and it grabbed my attention for over two hours.

This is the true story of a man whose conscience will not let him stand by while the world goes to hell around him. Gregory Peck plays an O'Flaherty whose quaint 'Oirish' charm hides a cunning and resourceful leader who has to balance the demands of his conscience with his role as an official in the Vatican government.

Pope Pius makes it clear he understands O'Flaherty's motivation while warning him that if he is arrested, the Pope will not compromise Vatican neutrality to save him. The film does its best to restore Pius XII's reputation - he has been called "Hitler's Pope" - but it is unclear how much he knew of, or even condoned, O'Flaherty's activities. O'Flaherty cannot compromise, and continues with his work despite the Gestapo having orders to shoot him on sight if he is found outside the Vatican, and suffering a failed assassination attempt in St Peter's itself.

Christopher Plummer is always worth watching and his performance here is no exception. Shown first as an arrogant man who feels the Nazis now "own Rome... it's ours", we later see that Kappler is at the mercy of this ruthless regime even as he plays his part in it. Finally the only person he can turn to is his arch-enemy from the Vatican. This is a fairly conventional irony, but during the course of the film Plummer also suggests how Kappler is losing his soul to his inhuman work, becoming isolated from his family as he begins to loathe what he is doing. You feel Kappler hates O'Flaherty not simply because of what he does, but because O'Flaherty represents the better part of himself.

I would give the film more stars but it is about 15 minutes too long and becomes rather episodic towards the end. However, it's a great story, well-acted by a strong cast, and can be viewed and enjoyed many times.


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