6.8/10
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51 user 18 critic

The Cardinal (1963)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 12 December 1963 (USA)
A young Catholic priest from Boston confronts bigotry, Nazism, and his own personal conflicts as he rises to the office of cardinal.

Director:

Otto Preminger

Writers:

Robert Dozier (screenplay), Henry Morton Robinson (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Tryon ... Stephen Fermoyle
Carol Lynley ... Mona / Regina Fermoyle
Dorothy Gish ... Celia
Maggie McNamara ... Florrie
Bill Hayes ... Frank
Cameron Prud'Homme ... Din
Cecil Kellaway ... Monsignor Monaghan
Loring Smith ... Cornelius J. Deegan
John Saxon ... Benny Rampell
James Hickman James Hickman ... Father Lyons
Berenice Gahm Berenice Gahm ... Mrs. Rampell
John Huston ... Glennon
Jose Duvall Jose Duvall ... Ramon Gongaro (as Jose Duval)
Peter MacLean ... Father Callahan
Robert Morse ... Bobby (as Robert {Morse} and His Adora-Belles)
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Storyline

Stephen Fermoyle has grown up in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century knowing that his destiny lies with the Catholic priesthood. Finally finishing his studies in Rome, he returns to America full of certitude and ambition to one day join the College of Cardinals. But his road to that office is a long one, paved with crises. In Boston, he must decide whether to save the life of his sister or her unborn child, conceived out of wedlock. In Austria, he confronts the question of whether to remain with the priesthood or abandon his oath so that he can be with the woman he loves. In Georgia, he contends with Rome's indifference in the face of racial bigotry. And in Austria, he finds himself personally involved in the church's dealings with the Third Reich. Written by Shannon Patrick Sullivan <shannon@mun.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A motion picture that spans two decades of conflict and drama as it tells the story of a young American and his rise to prince of the church.

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The reunion of Dorothy Gish an Otto Preminger after working together 17 years earlier in "Centennial Summer". See more »

Goofs

As Father Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon) crosses the street to enter a Boston pawn shop (approximately 00:52), the shadows of an arc light and grip stand are seen on the pavement during a sweeping pan. See more »

Quotes

Cardinal Glennon: We've never had a priest working with the Mafia before. But I suppose you made some interesting contacts in Rome.
Stephen Fermoyle: I had no choice, Your Eminence. I had to work my way through the seminary by selling opium in St. Peter's Square.
Cardinal Glennon: You're not afraid of me.
Stephen Fermoyle: No.
Cardinal Glennon: Why not? Most people are.
Stephen Fermoyle: I think it's because you remind me of my father. He was known as "Den the Down Shouter," but I soon learned his roar was the only fierce thing about him.
Cardinal Glennon: He's a lucky man to have a son who's not afraid of him.
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Connections

Referenced in Mickey One (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Jubilate Alleluia
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as Mozart)
Performed Wilma Lipp and The Wiener Jeunesse Chor
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User Reviews

 
On the Cutting Edge of Catholic History
20 November 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Otto Preminger's blockbuster film, The Cardinal, is kind of like an ecclesiastical Winds of War with its priest/protagonist seemingly on the scene of a whole lot of history from before World War I until just before the outbreak of World War II. The church of those times is vastly different than the Roman Catholic Church of today.

Tom Tryon plays Stephen Fermoyle whose parents, Cameron Prudhomme and Dorothy Gish as did so many Irish married couples, determined that one of their kids would be a priest. They put aside money for same and the film opens with young Tryon completing his ordination in Rome and coming back to be assigned to the Boston Archdiocese.

Tryon undergoes many crises of faith, both personal and historical. As The Cardinal is history as how the church would write it for itself, a lot of things are passed over and answers we might come up with today would not be what Catholic folks especially would have thought back then.

One thing that did get me, though maybe it was in the novel the film is based on, is the big event for American Catholics in that time period was the 1928 presidential campaign and the nomination of Alfred E. Smith by the Democrats, the first Roman Catholic to be nominated by a major party for president. I could not believe that Preminger made a film about the Catholic church in that period with an American protagonist and didn't mention that at all in the film.

Preminger assembled a truly international cast of players of the second and third tier. Note the absence of any big name box office stars. He also shot the film in various locations around the world, Boston, Rome, Vienna and other places where the odyssey of Tom Tryon takes him.

Fellow director John Huston got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in his role as Cardinal Glennon of Boston, loosely based on Archbishop of Boston at the time, William O'Connell. Preminger said that Huston was cooperative in every way and Huston said he resisted successfully the impulse to call his own shots on his performance remembering this was not his film.

Carol Lynley playing both Tryon's sister and niece does well in a dual role and Patrick O'Neal and Murray Hamilton play a contrasting duo of Ku Klux Klansmen in Georgia. Romy Schneider is fine as the Austrian woman who loves Tryon and nearly shakes him from his vows of celibacy. Austrian actor Joseph Meinrad is memorable as the only true figure portrayed by name in the film, Cardinal Imnitzer of Vienna who makes a devil's bargain with Hitler and has cause to regret it.

I think viewers will also like a pair of fine Italian players Raf Vallone and Tullio Carminati who play a pair Cardinals, the former the friend and mentor of young Tryon and the latter the Papal Secretary of State based on Cardinal Merry del Val.

My favorite moments in The Cardinal are with Burgess Meredith as the parish priest from a diocese in Northern Maine where Tryon is sent as a curate. He's a simple man of great faith who is dying of multiple sclerosis. He's an old friend of Huston's and their reunion scene on Meredith's death bed is touching and sublime. This may very well have been Meredith's best screen role and he never gets enough credit for it.

Curious also that in this day when there is so much controversy about openly gay actor Chad Allen playing a missionary, it's ironic that closeted gay actor Tom Tryon plays a prince of the church here. Tryon after he left acting and became a successful novelist came relatively out of the closet. Today there would be the same howls of indignation as there were for Chad Allen if The Cardinal were made now.

As this is history as the church would write it itself, The Cardinal misfires in making its main points. But the performances that Otto Preminger gets from his cast are dignified and in some cases very moving. Not a bad film, but definitely falls short of being a great one.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Latin

Release Date:

12 December 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cardinal See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Otto Preminger Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

6-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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