7.7/10
2,267
34 user 6 critic

The Scarlet and the Black (1983)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | TV Movie 2 February 1983
Vatican efforts, lead by Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, to save Allied P.O.W.s and downed Allied airmen as the Nazis invade Rome.

Director:

Jerry London

Writers:

J.P. Gallagher (book), David Butler
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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty
Christopher Plummer ... Col. Herbert Kappler
John Gielgud ... Pope Pius XII (as Sir John Gielgud)
Raf Vallone ... Father Vittorio
Kenneth Colley ... Capt. Hirsch (as Ken Colley)
Walter Gotell ... Gen. Max Helm
Barbara Bouchet ... Minna Kappler
Julian Holloway ... Alfred West
Angelo Infanti Angelo Infanti ... Father Morosini
Olga Karlatos Olga Karlatos ... Francesca Lombardo
Michael Byrne ... Reinhard Beck
T.P. McKenna ... Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler
Vernon Dobtcheff ... Count Langenthal
John Terry ... Lt. Jack Manning
Peter Burton ... Sir D'Arcy Osborne
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Storyline

Fr. Hugh O'Flaherty is a Vatican official in 1943-45 who has been hiding downed pilots, escaped prisoners of war, and Italian Resistance families. His diplomatic status in a Catholic country prevents Colonel Kappler from openly arresting him, but O'Flaherty's activities become so large that the Nazis decide to assassinate him the next time he leaves the Vatican. O'Flaherty continues his work in a variety of disguises. Based on a true story. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK | Italy

Language:

English | German | Italian

Release Date:

2 February 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Vatican Pimpernel See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of three occasions in his career in which Sir John Gielgud played a Pope. The other two were The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), where he played the fictional Pope Pius XIII, and Elizabeth (1998), where he played the real-life Pope Pius V. See more »

Goofs

When Hugh O'Flaherty escapes from the Gestapo by disguising himself as a coal hauler, the SS officer who stops to question him wears rank insignia on the wrong side of the uniform collar. See more »

Quotes

Col. Herbert Kappler: You're alone?
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty: I am.
Col. Herbert Kappler: Not afraid I'll shoot you?
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty: No. If you were going to kill me, your man would have already done it in my room.
Col. Herbert Kappler: That is so.
[pause]
Col. Herbert Kappler: But believe me, at this moment, nothing would give me greater pleasure.
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty: Well, when it comes down to it, a bullet's your answer to just about everything, isn't it? The only argument you've got.
See more »

Alternate Versions

An edited version of approximately 110 minutes (120 minutes when broadcast with adverts) is sometimes shown on TV in the UK. See more »

Connections

References Massacre in Rome (1973) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Inspiring true-life adventure
8 April 2005 | by vaughan-birbeckSee all my reviews

I tuned to this by accident one evening on TV when it seemed there was nothing else worth watching and it grabbed my attention for over two hours.

This is the true story of a man whose conscience will not let him stand by while the world goes to hell around him. Gregory Peck plays an O'Flaherty whose quaint 'Oirish' charm hides a cunning and resourceful leader who has to balance the demands of his conscience with his role as an official in the Vatican government.

Pope Pius makes it clear he understands O'Flaherty's motivation while warning him that if he is arrested, the Pope will not compromise Vatican neutrality to save him. The film does its best to restore Pius XII's reputation - he has been called "Hitler's Pope" - but it is unclear how much he knew of, or even condoned, O'Flaherty's activities. O'Flaherty cannot compromise, and continues with his work despite the Gestapo having orders to shoot him on sight if he is found outside the Vatican, and suffering a failed assassination attempt in St Peter's itself.

Christopher Plummer is always worth watching and his performance here is no exception. Shown first as an arrogant man who feels the Nazis now "own Rome... it's ours", we later see that Kappler is at the mercy of this ruthless regime even as he plays his part in it. Finally the only person he can turn to is his arch-enemy from the Vatican. This is a fairly conventional irony, but during the course of the film Plummer also suggests how Kappler is losing his soul to his inhuman work, becoming isolated from his family as he begins to loathe what he is doing. You feel Kappler hates O'Flaherty not simply because of what he does, but because O'Flaherty represents the better part of himself.

I would give the film more stars but it is about 15 minutes too long and becomes rather episodic towards the end. However, it's a great story, well-acted by a strong cast, and can be viewed and enjoyed many times.


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