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Sunday, June 1, 2008


Pin-headed global politics meets pin-headed religious dogma meets pin-headed journalistic ethics meets pin-headed marital woes in this pin-headed prestige ‘roadshow’ item from the dying days of the old Hollywood studio system. The basic idea, from a Morris West bestseller, sounds fun (dissident Russkie Cardinal is named Pope as the world heads toward nuclear Armageddon) but dreary megging from Michael Anderson gets little out of those famous Vatican locations, and the studio mock-ups for secular Rome and inside the Kremlin are atrocious for a film of this scale. Laurence Olivier pulls out a bad Russian accent & watches lots of newsreels as the leader of the USSR while Anthony Quinn, Oscar Werner & Leo McKern furrow their brows & struggle manfully with their priestly robes. Only John Gieglud & Vittorio De Sica get comfortable in clerical drag, especially Gielgud who shows off the elegant swag of his white cassock. David Janssen, playing a dour reporter, is around for audience identification, but he’s stuck with some of the worst written, worst staged scenes in the history of big-budget pics.

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