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Francis of Assisi (1961)

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In 13th century Italy, Francis Bernardone, the son of an Assisi merchant, renounces a promising army career in favor of a monastic life and starts his own religious order, sanctioned by the Pope.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

Ludwig von Wohl (novel) (as Louis De Wohl), Eugene Vale (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bradford Dillman ... Francis Bernardone of Assisi
Dolores Hart ... Clare
Stuart Whitman ... Count Paolo of Vandria
Cecil Kellaway ... Cardinal Hugolino
Eduard Franz ... Pietro Bernardone
Athene Seyler ... Aunt Buona
Finlay Currie ... The Pope
Mervyn Johns ... Brother Juniper
Russell Napier Russell Napier ... Brother Elias
John Welsh ... Canon Cattanei
Harold Goldblatt Harold Goldblatt ... Bernard
Edith Sharpe Edith Sharpe ... Donna Pica
Jack Lambert Jack Lambert ... Scefi
Oliver Johnston ... Father Livoni
Malcolm Keen ... Bishop Guido
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Storyline

Francis Bernardone (Bradford Dillman) is the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, who gives up all his worldly goods to dedicate himself to God. Clare (Dolores Hart) is a young aristocratic woman who, according to the film, is so taken with St. Francis that she leaves her family and becomes a nun. By this time (1212 A.D.), St. Francis has a well-established reputation for his vows of poverty. The movie goes on to note miracles (such as the appearance of the stigmata on Francis's hands and feet) and other aspects of his life, up to and including his death on October 3, 1226. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

italy | stigmata | nun | death | saint | See All (72) »

Taglines:

how a Lusty, Fighting Young "Rebel With Cause" Exchanged his Sword for a Cross! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 July 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Francisco de Asís See more »

Filming Locations:

Assisi, Perugia, Umbria, Italy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,015,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Average Shot Length = ~10.6 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~10.3 seconds. See more »

Goofs

Several times in the movie, you can see the Basilica of Saint Francis in the background. It wasn't built before 1230, four year after Saint Francis' death. See more »

Quotes

Francis Bernardone of Assisi: This could be so, a voice told me to rebuild the Lord's house. I thought I had to work with stone and mortar, but perhaps I was wrong.
See more »

Crazy Credits

[Right before the closing title card] Pax et Bonum ("peace and all good [be with you]"). This Latin phrase is the traditional greeting and goodbye of the Franciscans, and it was established by Francis himself. See more »

Connections

Version of Francesco (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Just Saw It for the 2nd Time, After 52 Years
27 April 2013 | by thirteenprimeSee all my reviews

When I was in fourth grade in Catholic school, the nuns trooped us over to the local theater one sunny afternoon in the fall of 1961 to see this film. I remembered nothing about it, except for a vague notion that it had bored my sandals off. When I saw that Fox Movie Channel had it On Demand, I gave it another try, just to see. (I don't think I've ever had such an enormous gap between viewings of a film.)

And it's not bad at all. The first half-hour or so, unfortunately, is not good. It looks tacky and cheap, like a '60s TV-movie. There's a ludicrous battle scene early on, but this marks the point after which the film starts to get better. The Italian locations are beautiful. The film is overly reverential and was made for a general audience fifty years ago, so we don't really get to see how much of a party animal Francis was before his conversion. Bradford Dillman pulls off the near-impossible job of making this plaster saint interesting. The incredibly lovely Dolores Hart plays Clare, the noblewoman who becomes the first Franciscan nun (and Dolores actually did enter the convent the year after this film, and is still there today, and remains as lovely as ever). There is a subtlety in the relationship between Francis and Clare that often works, but occasionally you get the feeling that the two are behaving in such a restrained way that they might actually be 13th-century Vulcans. Of course, the director here, Michael Curtiz, is responsible for the most romantic movie of all time, Casablanca. Whatever is there between Francis and Clare is left subtle enough for us to appreciate while not peeving the more conservative members of the audience. Stuart Whitman, the nobleman who loves Clare and serves as the third member of this non-triangle, seems miscast here. Stu was never really the nobleman type.

Interestingly, the film takes a dim view of the Crusades, as it shows Christian forces raping and pillaging their way to the Holy Land. There's a scene with Francis meeting the leader of the enemy Saracens that shows their Sultan in a much more civilized light. The film also states that Francis felt his mission from God was to save the Church from its own materialism and heresy, pretty much along the lines of what Martin Luther would try to do two and a half centuries later. I'm not sure the nuns of 1961 really understood what was going on here.

My non-Catholic wife says that Francis has always been well thought of outside the Catholic religion, mainly because he loved animals and is generally felt to have been kind and modest. Not too many reputations have survived eight centuries of questioning and doubt intact. I really didn't expect to like this film, or to get all the way through it, but I was happily surprised to find that I rather enjoyed it.


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