In 1456, French King Charles VII recalls the story of how he met the seventeen-year-old peasant girl Joan of Arc, entrusted her with the command of the French Army, and ultimately burned her at the stake as a heretic.
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 <email@example.com>
Romy Schneider, Peter Weck and Vilma Degischer had previously work together in the Sissi trilogy. See more »
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 »
Tom Tryon's rise to Cardinal is just not compelling enough...
TOM TRYON has the central role in Otto Preminger's majestic looking film version of THE CARDINAL, but he's one of those handsome actors with an impassive face whose emotions never come to the surface. Instead, we get a hint of what he might be thinking without any real clue. And since the film is all about the moral and personal issues facing him as he enters the College of Cardinals, an actor with more emotional capabilities would have been more impressive.
The other flaw is the three hour length for a film in which the story is simply not that compelling. Furthermore, director Preminger has chosen to direct whole scenes at medium length lensing (no close-ups inserted) which gives a flat affect to the dynamics involved.
Aside from these weaknesses, the film has a lot about it to commend. All the interiors of church activities are impressively staged and photographed in beautiful WideScreen photography. The performances around Tryon range from good to excellent, including John Huston, Carol Lynley, Bill Hayes, John Saxon and Burgess Meredith. Huston is particularly commanding as the brusque Cardinal Glennon, who confronts Tryon with: "You're not afraid of me, are you?" when the young man speaks his mind.
All of the technical aspects of the film are professional, giving the story more credibility than it deserves from a rather lumbering script. The icing on the cake is the rich musical score by Jerome Moross.
Holds the interest despite the length as it deals with a young man confronting bigotry, Naziism, and his own personal beliefs as he ascends the ladder of success in the Catholic Church.
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