Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Keys of the Kingdom

Tonight I watched another movie recommended by Henry: The Keys of the Kingdom ...

a 1944 American film based on the 1941 novel, The Keys of the Kingdom, by A. J. Cronin. The movie was adapted by Nunnally Johnson, directed by John M. Stahl and produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The movie stars Gregory Peck, Thomas Mitchell, and Vincent Price, and tells the story of the trials and tribulations of a Catholic priest who goes to China to evangelize.

I liked the movie. The basic plot: in Scotland, an elderly Fr. Francis Chisholm gets a 'visitation' - the bishops sends a Monsignor to evaluate him for retirement after getting some complaints about the unorthodox priest. Overnight, the Monsignor happens to read Fr. Chisholm's journal which tells of his whole life: his being orphaned, his time in the seminary, his relationship with the woman he loved and her untimely death, his joining the priesthood, and his time as a missionary in China. After reading it all, he decides Fr. Chisholm should be allows to remain at his post.

Most of the movie is about Fr. Chisholm's time in China during the civil war and what makes it worth watching is Gregory Peck's portrayal of the priest as kind, humble, open-minded, and brave. Here he makes friends with Methodist missionaries ...

And he also made a friend of the Mother Superior at his Mission ...

And he raised this abandoned little girl to adulthood ...

He was castigated by his superiors as making few converts, but the ones he did make as a missionary in China were converted by his example of goodness :)

Here's the beginning of the review of the film by The New York Times ...

The subtle and spiritual story of a Catholic missionary priest which was told with such warmth and vitality by A. J. Cronin in his novel "The Keys of the Kingdom" three years ago has been imaged in pictorial outline by Twentieth Century-Fox in a long and mellow film of the same title which opened at the Rivoli yesterday. To pretend that the picture has anything like the original's significance or scope would be a stupendous injustice to Dr. Cronin and to the character he conceived. As is often the case with "screen versions," especially those of outspoken books, the film is but a surface shadow of the substance that was so finely wrought. And yet, in a loose and popular fashion, it does show a picture of a man of impressively saintly disposition and affecting humility ...


Anonymous Henry said...

Hi Crystal - I am glad you liked it - it is one of my favorite movies! The priest who instructed me in the Catholic Christian Faith was a bit like Fr. Chisholm.

It's also, in my opinion, a beautiful example of an important aspect of love.

I wish you and your sister a Happy New Year full of many blessings and a shower of palpable love.

7:11 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Henry,

Thanks for recommending it. :)

What aspect of love did you think it exemplified? I thought as I watched it that he was really a wonderful person, but that he could probably have done all the good stuff that he did as a priest instead as a married person, like the Methodist missionaries he meets, and he might have actually had a happier life that way.

7:16 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

And Happy New Year to you too :)

7:17 PM  

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