The Cardinal is a 1963 American drama film which was produced independently and directed by Otto Preminger, and distributed by Columbia Pictures. The screenplay was written by Robert Dozier, based on the novel of the same name (1950) by Henry Morton Robinson.
Promotional poster by Saul Bass
|Directed by||Otto Preminger|
|Produced by||Martin C. Schute|
|Screenplay by||Robert Dozier|
Ring Lardner, Jr. (uncredited)
|Based on||The Cardinal|
|Music by||Jerome Moross|
|Edited by||Louis R. Loeffler|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The film was shot on location in Boston, in Stamford, Connecticut, and in Rome and Vienna. The music score was written by Jerome Moross. The Cardinal featured the final appearance by veteran film star Dorothy Gish as well as the last big-screen performance of Maggie McNamara.
Robinson's novel was based on the life of Cardinal Francis Spellman, who was then Archbishop of New York. The Vatican's liaison officer for the film was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI. The story touches on various social issues such as interfaith marriage, sex outside marriage, abortion, racial bigotry, the rise of fascism and war.
A newly ordained Irish Catholic priest, Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon), returns home to Boston in 1917. He discovers that his parents are upset about daughter Mona (Carol Lynley) having become engaged to marry a Jewish boy, Benny Rampell (John Saxon). Mona seeks Stephen's counsel as a priest.
Concerned about the young priest's ambition, the archbishop (John Huston) assigns Stephen to an out-of-the-way parish where it is hoped he will learn humility. There he meets the humble pastor, Father Ned Halley (Burgess Meredith), and Fermoyle observes the unpretentious way he lives his life and treats his parishioners. Father Halley is very sick with multiple sclerosis. Fermoyle learns humility from him and his housekeeper, Lalage (Jill Haworth).
Stephen and his Irish Catholic family will only permit Mona to marry her Jewish fiancé Benny if he becomes a Catholic or agrees to raise any children as Catholic. Benny does not agree and leaves to serve in World War I. Mona runs away and becomes promiscuous. She becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Stephen, his brother, and Benny find Mona in agony because her pelvis is too small for a large baby. She is taken to the hospital where the doctor tells Stephen that the head of the baby must be crushed to save Mona. Stephen will not allow the doctor to do this. According to Catholic doctrine, the baby may not be killed. Mona dies giving birth to the child Regina.
Racked with guilt over the death of his sister, Stephen suffers a crisis of faith, so he is transferred to Europe and made a monsignor but is unsure how committed he is to a life in the clergy and travels to Vienna, Austria, taking a two-year sabbatical. There he meets and enters into a relationship with a young woman, Annemarie (Romy Schneider). Stephen does not violate his vows.
Stephen's vocation calls him back to Rome and the church. The Vatican returns him to the United States on a mission in the American South to assist a black priest named Father Gillis (Ossie Davis) who is opposed by the Ku Klux Klan. After successfully handling that assignment, Fermoyle was consecrated as a bishop. Father Gillis was present for the consecration.
Stephen is sent back to Austria to persuade a cardinal there not to cooperate with the Nazis, with a threat of a world war looming over all. He and the cardinal ultimately must flee for their lives. He manages to see Annemarie one last time after she has been imprisoned by the Nazis. After the success of the missions the Vatican sent him on, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals.
- Tom Tryon as Stephen Fermoyle
- Carol Lynley as Mona Fermoyle / Regina Fermoyle
- Dorothy Gish as Celia Fermoyle
- Maggie McNamara as Florrie Fermoyle
- Bill Hayes as Frank Fermoyle
- Cameron Prud'Homme as Din Fermoyle
- Romy Schneider as Annemarie von Hartman
- Peter Weck as Kurt von Hartman
- Cecil Kellaway as Monsignor Monaghan
- Ossie Davis as Father Gillis
- Loring Smith as Cornelius J. Deegan
- John Saxon as Benny Rampell
- James Hickman as Father Lyons
- Berenice Gahm as Mrs Ramble
- John Huston as Cardinal Glennon
- Jose Duvall (as Jose Duval) as Ramon Gongaro
- Peter MacLean as Father Callahan
- Robert Morse as Bobby and His Adora-Belles
- Burgess Meredith as Father Ned Halley
- Josef Meinrad as Cardinal Innitzer
- Erik Frey as Seyss-Inquart
- Wolfgang Preiss as SS major
- Jill Haworth as Lalage Menton
- Raf Vallone as Cardinal Quarenghi
- Tullio Carminati as Cardinal Giacobbi
Box office performanceEdit
The film won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama, marking the third time, following East of Eden (1955) and Spartacus (1960), and the last time (as of 2014[update]) a film won that category without later being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.Preminger was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director; John Huston was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture. Huston's role as Cardinal Glennon was his official debut as an actor although he had previously played bit roles in several films including his own The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Other Academy Awards nominations were for Best Cinematography (Leon Shamroy), Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler and set decorator Gene Callahan), Best Costume Design (Donald Brooks), and Best Film Editing (Louis R. Loeffler).
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- Box Office Information for The Cardinal. The Numbers. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- The Cardinal review by Frank Miller, Turner Classic Movies
- "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is theatrical rentals accruing to distributors, not total gross.
- The Cardinal at AllMovie
- "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-06.