The action is set in the "duck and cover" epoch.All fear the "atomic attack".
Bill Bowdern teaches at the Faculty of Theology,at "SLU";he was in the war and has his subsequent traumas;he drinks a little,knows much about comics and football.Bowdern defends the faith by fighting racism and gets arrested after punching a policeman.He's not afraid to use some bad language.One day,Bowdern is shown a house of the Alexian Brothers,as a terminus for the misfits.
Robbie,eleven years old,is interested mainly in comics and tricks.He learns to be a ventriloquist.One day,at school,objects begin to move themselves by the boy;Robbie becomes morose,violent.He is seen by Rev. Roland Eckhardt ("a man of reason,a man of science,and a man of God",as he defines himself),who takes Robbie at his home and nearly gets killed by the boy.
At first,Fr. Bowdern considers Robbie's "abnormal behavior" as "a lot of hearsay","mass hysteria".Then,he is asked to investigate the case.He does some research,finds out about Surin (as a Jesuit professor,he should have known already about Father Surin,at least as much as he knew about Lois Lane,I think).
This movie is not frightful,lugubrious,scary,nor creepy,etc.;it seldom tries to be so,and in a naive,clumsy and conventional way.As a matter of fact,it bases upon facts,not upon fantasy.It tries to suggest the sinister,the horrible violence,the horrid,the fearful of the situation,by means of the reactions of those implied (W. Bowdern,Phyllis,etc.).I think it refuses to resort to cheap means in order to scare.
The best actors of the show are Timothy Dalton,Shannon Lawson,Czerny and Christopher Plummer.Dalton utters sonorously,plainly,in his affected and theatrical way.
W. Bowdern has a rough line:"Too many jackasses have made our decisions".
On a TV in this movie we see a bit of a Bp. Sheen show ("higher than Milton Berle").
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