This movie is the most pious and overly devotional (POD) movie I have ever seen. The liturgical footage is phenomenal. If you want Tridentine eye-candy this film will keep you busy counting the embroidered fiddleback chasubles.
But the best part is the story. I must begin with a caveat. The last and final scene is essentially a political speech for the Kennedy political machine. It’s basically an apology that Catholics are real Americans and are the greatest advocates of democracy. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pappa Kennedy wrote the Cardinal’s speech. Given that this move was released in 1963, Catholicism and American politics were still on their honeymoon.
But enough of that. The move traces the life of a man from his ordination to the Priesthood to his elevation as a Cardinal. Along the way it gets very interesting. I’ll share two of my favorite scenes.
At one point, the priest’s sister is about to die due to labor. She is not only not married but also an apostate from the Faith. The doctor informs the priest that the must abort the baby in order to save the mother. Anguish enters his face. The doctor says, “Is this some sort of religious scruple?” The priest fires back, “NO! It’s a commandment. Though shall not kill!” I won’t tell you what happens.
Another great scene is when the Nazis are storming the Archbishop of Vienna’s palace. As they begin to destroy images of Christ and break down the door, our beloved priest (now a bishop) shouts out, “Save the Blessed Sacrament!” The run to the Cardinal of Vienna’s private altar and open the tabernacle. They very piously consume the hosts just as the Nazis barge in and begin abusing the attending priests. Anyway, the whole thing is just so POD. They care not for their lives, but only that the Blessed Sacrament might not be desecrated. You’ve got to see this movie.