The Reluctant Saint (1962)

Article 2176 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-1-2007
Posting Date: 7-28-2007
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Featuring Maximilian Schell, Ricardo Montalban, Lea Padovani

The story of Saint Joseph of Cupertino is told here. At the beginning of the movie, he amounts to what would be called the village idiot, and his mother pulls strings to have him accepted as a lay worker by the monastery. By an amazing chain of events, he manages to take holy orders and become a priest. It is then discovered that he can levitate when he is in the throes of religious ecstasy.

This movie opens with a statement saying that the story the movie tells is “in essence” true to the facts, which I interpret to mean that some liberties were taken with the story. After having seen the movie, that didn’t really bother me; I found it a fascinating, moving, and sometimes comic experience. What really makes this inspirational movie come to life are the performances, especially from Maximilian Schell (I was flabbergasted that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar for his acting in the title role), Akim Tamiroff as an archbishop (his scenes with Schell are the highlights of the movie), and Ricardo Montalban, who I didn’t even know was in the movie until I saw his name in the final credits; his ability to disappear into his role here is simply amazing. I didn’t anticipate really enjoying this movie, but from the beginning I was hooked. This is one of those rare inspirational movies that really does inspire, even if you’re not particularly religious. Highly recommended.



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