In 1858 France, Bernadette, an adolescent peasant girl, has a vision of "a beautiful lady" in the city dump. She never claims it to be anything other than this, but the townspeople all ... See full summary »
Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros.
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 »
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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