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
[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 »
A St. Francis story with historical proportion worth seeing
Contrary to scant reviews of this movie as rather mediocre, several interesting aspects make it worth a viewing. Perhaps aside, there is the amazing parallel of movie-to-reality of lovely Dolores Hart, who plays the noble woman Clare. Clare forsook marriage to an earnest noble (Stuart Whitman) and followed Francis (Bradford Dillman), founding the Poor Clares order of nuns. Hart was on the verge of marriage in 1963, when she decided to become a nun. The acting is good enough to keep one interested. And seeing some of the last appearances of old guard like Finlay Currie, Cecil Kellaway, and irascible director Michael Curtiz (who directed many of Errol Flynn's swashbuckler movies and other Warner Bros. fare in Hollywood hey days) sufficiently tempts the serious movie buff. The movie itself has the looklots of color but also the lingering epic Hollywood scale--of historical yarns of the late 40s on through the 50s. Like the better efforts of this genre, the life of Francis progresses with a competent scriptparticularly in Francis's struggles against the establishment church. Thus it is historically preferable to Zeffirelli's minimalist Brother Sun, Sister Moon which frames Francis and Clare as more akin to 60s hippies than inhabitants of the 13th centurywith a plot that meanders like a music videoand Donovan's music to prove it (Zeffirelli also wanted the Beatles to appear in the movie!). This reviewer is perhaps tainted with some nostalgic bias, since as a small boy I saw the Southern California premiere of Francis of Assisi (in Downeysoutheast LA county suburb--of all places!) that included a live appearance and short commentary on stage by Stuart Whitman, who in his rough out style played Francis's friend-turned-antagonist (having been jilted by Clare) Count Paolo of Vandria. Years later at Universal I worked with Whitman, who, crusty as ever, recalled memories of the movie shoot as a tolerably pleasant experience.
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