Monsignor is a 1982 American drama film directed by Frank Perry about a Roman Catholic priest's rise through the ranks of the Vatican, during and after World War II. Along the way, he involves the Vatican in the black marketeering operations of a Mafia don, and has an affair with a woman in the postulant stage of becoming a nun. He eventually repents and returns to his faith, attempting to make right the things he has done wrong. The cast includes Christopher Reeve, Geneviève Bujold, Fernando Rey, Jason Miller, Joseph Cortese, Adolfo Celi, and Leonardo Cimino.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Perry|
|Produced by||David Niven Jr.|
by Jack-Alain Léger
|Music by||John Williams|
|Edited by||Peter E. Berger|
Frank Yablans Presentations
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$12.4 million|
The film was not well received by critics and performed poorly at the box office; Reeve later blamed this on poor editing. Supporting actors Miller and Rey were singled out for their strong performances. The film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Musical Score, the only Razzie nomination John Williams ever received in his career to date.
On November 29, 1982, the film was banned from showing in the country of Ireland; the Irish Film Censor Board cited its conflation of religion and adultery, as it features an affair between a priest and a postulant nun. The decision was overturned by the Film Appeals Board on December 17; this caused controversy among members of Fianna Fáil – chairman Ned Brennan believed the majority of the Irish public didn't want it to be released and said "standards must be maintained", wanting it banned on "moral grounds".
Father John Flaherty does indeed have a good head for figures, but also believes in any means to an end. To raise money for the church, he is willing to enter into a black market operation with the Mafia, selling cartons of cigarettes by the tens of thousands for a percentage of the take.
The priest's morals are strained further when he develops a romantic interest in Clara, a young nun who is having a crisis of faith. They begin an affair, but Flaherty does not confess to her his true identity. One day during a papal audience, Clara catches sight of Flaherty in his clerical robes. Her love and trust are shattered.
Flaherty's methods may be overlooked, but his success at raising funds is appreciated by some of his superiors as he rises to become a monsignor, then a cardinal. When an ill-advised stock investment costs the Vatican millions, however, Flaherty must pay the price for his deeds.
- Christopher Reeve as Father Flaherty
- Geneviève Bujold as Clara
- Leonardo Cimino as the Pope
- Fernando Rey as Cardinal Santoni
- Adolfo Celi as Cardinal Vinci
- Jason Miller as Don Appolini
- Tomas Milian as Father Francisco
- Robert Prosky as Bishop Walkman
- Joe Pantoliano as Musso
- Joseph Cortese as Ludovico 'Lodo' Varese
- Milena Vukotic as Sister Verna
- Joe Spinell as Bride's Father
- Ettore Mattia as Pietro
- Gregory Snegoff as Soldier
- Pamela Prati as Roman Girl
- Darin Berry as Altar Boy
The score of the film is composed and conducted by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. The soundtrack was released in 1982.
In 2007, Intrada releases a limited edition of Williams' score of the film and an expanded version was released on June 4, 2019.
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p260
- "Monsignor (1982)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
- Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
- "Films banned in Ireland". boards.ie. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Ex-TD criticises film about priest". The Irish Times. 6 January 1983.
- Comiskey, Ray (15 January 1983). "'Monsignor' fails to excite". The Irish Times.