For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies IV: The Shoes of the Fisherman


The Papal Conclave is upon us, and we’re smack in the middle of a fight for religious liberty. Did I mention North Korea is rattling their nuclear sabre too?

So as the fourth installment of Lenten Friday Night at the Movies gets underway, we’re going to go back to a time when the Cold War was raging, and a new Pope was selected who has more than a little in common with Blessed Pope John Paul II. Did I mention it’s another film I’ve never seen, nor ever heard of? Need I mention Anthony Quinn?

Here’s the IMDb synopsis of the film,

Set in a futuristic vision of the late 1980′s (ed. I don’t think so), Ukrainian Archbishop Kiril Lakota is set free after two decades as a political prisoner in Siberia. He is brought to Rome by Fr. David Telemond, a troubled young priest who befriends him. Once at the Vatican, he is immediately given an audience with the Pope, who elevates him to Cardinal Priest. The world is on the brink of war due to a Chinese-Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade restrictions brought against China by the U.S. When the Pontiff suddenly dies, Lakota’s genuine character and unique life experience move the College of Cardinals to elect him as the new Pope. But Pope Kiril I must now deal with his own self-doubt, the struggle of his friend Fr. Telemond who is under scrutiny for his beliefs, and find a solution to the crisis in China.

On to the trailer!

YouTube Preview Image

We’ve got an All Star cast here, if nothing else,

Laurence Olivier – Premier Kamenev
Anthony Quinn – Pope Kiril Lakota
David Janssen – George Faber
Vittorio De Sica – Cardinal Rinaldi
Oskar Werner – Father David Telemond
Leo McKern – Cardinal Leone
John Gielgud – The Elder Pope
Barbara Jefford – Ruth Faber
Rosemarie Dexter – Chiara
Peter Copley – English Cardinal

Olivier, Quinn, Geilgud. And looky here, I haven’t seen David Janssen in a movie since he played the journalist in The Green Berets.

This film has tension galore, global ramifications, and we get to see a conclave in action, to boot. What’s not to love? For $1.99 it’s available at YouTube through Google Wallet.

What’s for dinner? Just a beer, as I’m fasting for religious liberty on this particular Friday. Just a bottle of beer and this here film, suitable for the entire family.

  • Arizona Mike

    Oskar Werner’s character was reportedly based on Fr. Teilhard de Chardin. If true, this was the second movie priest to use to be based on him, as Max Von Sydow’s Father Merrin in “The Exorcist” also was.

    • Frank Weathers

      Hmmm, I found this instead.

      Aspects of the character Father Merrin were based on the British archaeologist Gerald Lankester Harding, who had excavated the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found and whom Blatty had met in Beirut. Blatty has stated that Harding “was the physical model in my mind when I created the character [of Merrin], whose first name, please note, is Lankester.”

  • The Byzantine Bandit

    I would advise not watching this one.
    For starters, it goes on FOREVER.
    The one priest is a bit of a heretic, and one of the pope’s actions at the end of the movie, I’m not sure he’s allowed to do.
    Did I mention it goes on FOREVER?

    • Frank Weathers

      I enjoyed it, mainly. Lots of great Vatican footage and it’s probably the closest you can come to seeing how a conclave works (better stove now, and no wet straw for black smoke). Plus, I hadn’t seen Oskar Werner in a movie since “Fahrenheit 451,” or Leo McKern since he was in “Help!” and “A Man For All Seasons.”