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The Detective (1954)

Father Brown (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 1 November 1954 (USA)
Works of art are disappearing, stolen by a master thief, a master of disguise. Father Brown has two goals: to catch the thief and to save his soul.



(stories), (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Father Brown
... Lady Warren
... Gustave Flambeau
... The Bishop
... Inspector Valentine
... Bert Parkinson
... Inspector Dubois
... Bishop's Secretary
Aubrey Woods ... Charlie
John Salew ... Station Sergeant
Sam Kydd ... Scotland Yard Sergeant
... Inspector Wilkins
Jack McNaughton ... Railway Guard
Hugh Dempster ... Train Passenger in Bowler
... French Cavalry Officer


Amateur detective Father Ignatius Brown defies his Bishop and decides to transport to Rome a holy relic from his church - a cross that once belonged to St. Augustin - rather than allow the more elaborate plans to proceed. On the channel crossing he becomes suspicious of a fellow traveler, a Mr Dobson, whom Brown quickly determines is not the automobile salesman he claims to be. He does befriend another priest whom he takes into his confidence but soon realizes that his suspicions should have been reversed. The fake priest is in fact Gustave Flambeau a professional art thief and an expert at disguise. After he gets away with the cross, Brown refuses to work with the police, insisting that he wants to save the man's soul, not put him in prison. With the assistance of his friend Lady Warren, Father Brown sets a trap for Flambeau but Brown realizes that his work is only just beginning. Written by garykmcd

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When Guinness turns private eye - it's a public scandal! See more »


Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 November 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Detective  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Alec Guinness was spotted in costume when walking home through the French countryside. A young boy ran up to him, yelling "Mon père! Mon père!" ("My father! My father!") Guinness did not speak French, so he could not correct the young boy's mistake, but was touched that the young boy apparently immediately bonded to him on the assumption that he was a priest. Soon after the film was released, Guinness converted to Catholicism. See more »


In the stained-glass window behind the (catholic) bishop, there is a portrait of Henry VIII (second from left). Given that Henry was the first king to oppose the pope and separate the Church of England from the catholic church, his face would never be tolerated in this place. See more »


Flambeau: What are you really after, your cross or my soul?
Father Brown: Both, of course.
Flambeau: Well, come and find us. I'll make you a bargain: whatever you can find you shall have.
Father Brown: I accept your bargain.
Flambeau: It would have been an interesting encounter. Pity it will never take place.
See more »


Version of Father Brown (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

Will Catholicism solve all of our problems?
8 September 2005 | by See all my reviews

The thesis of Father Brown is that a good dose of Roman Catholicism will solve all of life's problems. A little proselytizing I don't mind, but this gets a bit ridiculous at times.

Some fine actors have played Father Brown over the years, Kenneth More and Barnard Hughes are two good examples. Alec Guinness plays him in this film and does all right by him, but you didn't see any great demand for future Father Brown films.

I suppose if you are a committed Roman Catholic it all makes perfectly good sense. It's far more important to catch the thief and convert him to your religion than see he's brought to justice.

But that's what were asked to accept here. In fact there is a preliminary story before the main action of the film. Guinness in clerical garb is caught trying to put back stolen articles that one of his parishioners Sidney James had heisted during a robbery.

That's the story he gives the local cops and of course this is something that James has confided in him so he can't break the confessional.

Now on to bigger game. Master thief Flambeau, played by Peter Finch has stolen a cross that is entrusted to Father Brown and was said to belong to St. Augustine back in the day. But Father Brown is more interested in getting Flambeau to go back to his faith than seeing him brought to justice. So he misleads the cops so he can accomplish his mission.

I'm sorry but this whole thing was just too much for me to swallow. Father Brown I'd hate to say it was guilty of obstruction and ought to have been arrested. And he was under no obligation not to reveal anything he knew about Flambeau, the man had not come to him as a penitent seeking absolution and spiritual advice.

Author G.K. Chesterton, a very noted Catholic lay person in his day, finds all this very reasonable. Carried to his logical conclusion we should replace all police forces with an army of priests.

Guinness borrows from his own Reverend Ascoyne D'Ascoyne from Kind Hearts and Coronets and from Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way to create Father Brown. Granted though Brown is a lot shrewder than the other two. There's also a bit of Colonel Nicholson in this portrayal. In The Bridge on the River Kwai, Guinness also was playing a character who's rather weird interpretation of the rules caused him to lose sight of what was important in the situation Nicholson was in.

Father Brown's an entertaining fellow when he's solving mysteries and making the authorities look foolish. We've enjoyed Brother Cadfael do it in a medieval setting and American audiences liked Father Dowling played by Tom Bosley a few years back.

This film should have stuck to being entertaining.

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