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Bad preachers


skimpole
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Watching the Diertele/Laughton The Hunchback of Notre Dame I was reminded that there was some controversy over the Disney animated version about whether the plot had been changed to more implicate a priest. Which leads me to my question. There are movies with unpleasant religious leaders. The Saint Bartolemew's Day Massacre sequence in Intolerance may only involve soldiers. And Robert Mitchum and Burt Lancaster are only pretending to be clergymen in The night of the Hunter and Elmer Gantry, which Barbara Stanwyk in The Miracle Woman is more ambiguous. So what would be the first Hollywood movie in which a contemporary clergyman is clearly villainous?

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Sadie Thompson (1928) & the first remake Rain(1932) both feature preachers who are not what they seem to be. I tgink there may also be a Lon Chaney film with him using a mission as a front for nefarious activities, but I can't remember the name. There's also The Scarlet Letter (1926).

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Edward Drayton, played by Bernard Miles, is the villainous minister in The Man Who Knew too Much (1956). The character is not just a minister, but most pointedly an evangelical, non-Anglican, non-RC clergyman -- a Wesleyan.

 

Interesting note in theater: almost all Shakespeare's clergy are not very nice. Exceptions are the Bishop of Carlisle in Richard II and maybe one or two others.

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{color:black}{font:Calibri}Skimpole wrote: The Saint Bartolemew's Day Massacre sequence in Intolerance may only involve soldiers.{font}

{font:Calibri}In the massacre scene Brown Eyes' little sister escapes from Catherine deMedici's soldiers and is hidden by a priest who then lies to them about where she is. The fact that he's Catholic and she's Hugenot does not matter to him; she is an innocent child caught up in a war she has no part in. It's the only bight light in this brutal darkness that's not about religion but a vicious woman's use of it to hold on to her power.

 

There are charlatans in the clergy as there are in every other walk of life. Movies reflect this as well as show them at their best. It's they, not the faithful or their beliefs who are at fault. {font}

 

 

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If we're also going to mention PRETEND clerics;

 

 

Humphry Bogart poses as a priest in *The Left Hand of God* .

 

 

Harry Belefonte as a NOT so holy man in *Buck And the Preacher* .

 

 

James Garner posing as a preacher in *The Skin Game* .

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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I dunno, skim.

 

 

I think the good Rev. Harry Powell in "Night of the Hunter" (1955) really did think he was a man of you-know-who.

 

 

For my money, he's the baddest of the bad preachers . . . creepy, sinister, cold, calculating sociopath.

 

 

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*La Reine Margot* (1994) is a great film about the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. There are several clergymen in it, although I don't remember how they are depicted. There are plenty of films with bad nuns, but that's another story.

 

Perhaps Shakespeare's most villainous religious figure is Henry Beaufort, Bishop (later Cardinal) of Winchester, in the *Henry VI* plays. Although they have been filmed for television, I don't think a movie has been made of them -- though they would make a great film!

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<*La Reine Margot* (1994) is a great film about the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. There are several clergymen in it, although I don't remember how they are depicted. There are plenty of films with bad nuns, but that's another story.>

 

 

I was thinking about that one, too (which I love and have on DVD). Nope. It's all Mama de Medici who corners the market on BAD!

 

 

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Really, thestick? Do you think the Rev. Shannon was "bad?" I saw him as perpetually trying to do better whilst under the influence of a disease known as alcoholism.

 

 

I'm not an organized religion kinda person, but I think that axiom "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" fits here.

 

 

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Although Paul Muni's brother, a priest, in I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, is a good man, every bit of advice he gives Muni--which is mainly to trust the people in positions of authority to do the right thing--is wrong. I think this is clearly intended as a criticism of the clergy generally.

 

 

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> {quote:title=darkblue wrote:}{quote}I believe the most evil clergyman in cinematic history just might be Father Barre, as played by Michael Gothard, in Ken Russell's 'The Devils' (1971)

 

That's the truth, and there are a lot sick and twisted nuns, too. I wish WHV would finally restore it, and release it on DVD.

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A headline in today's Financial Times : *"Muni Warning Issued."* I thought it had something to do with Paul Muni and "I steal..." but it was related to downgrades on investors who have "piled into US municipal debts." They face downgrades on their bonds, or something like that.

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*Swithin wrote:* Perhaps Shakespeare's most villainous religious figure is Henry Beaufort, Bishop (later Cardinal) of Winchester, in the *Henry VI *plays. Although they have been filmed for television, I don't think a movie has been made of them -- though they would make a great film!

 

Henry Beaufort was an ancestor of Henry Tudor-Henry VII-through his mother, Margaret Beaufort. Since Elizabeth I was Henry's granddaughter and had plenty of daddy Henry VIII in her this was a pretty gutsy thing for our man Willie to write.

 

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Well, yes, but they were all more or less related, and Henry VII turns up at the end of Richard III, which is part of the series, as the Lancastrian savior. Most of the Lancastrians are good, apart from Cardinal Beaufort, who was complicit in killing one of his relatives, good Duke Humphrey.

 

When I was in college, one of my favorite novels was Melmoth the Wanderer, by Charles Robert Maturin. Written in 1820, it is a very long horror/Gothic novel, filled with soul-selling, evil monks, pristine landscapes, etc. It was the fashion at that time to use a phrase at the start of every chapter. The phrase at the head of Chapter I is, "Alive again? Then show me where he is. I'll give a thousand pound to look on him. -- Shakespeare" There was no Internet in those days, and that's not a famous quote, so there was really no way for me to find out which play it came from. Until I saw a production, over three nights, of the Henry VI/Richard III plays, performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with Ralph Fiennes as Henry VI. That's when I learned that the evil Cardinal, after helping kill the good Duke, becomes delerious with guilt over what he has done, and says those words before he dies (I find this one of the most powerful scenes in Shakespeare):

 

CARDINAL

 

O, torture me no more! I will confess.

Alive again? then show me where he is:

I'll give a thousand pound to look upon him.

He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them.

Comb down his hair; look, look! it stands upright,

Like lime-twigs set to catch my winged soul.

Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary

Bring the strong poison that I bought of him.

 

KING HENRY VI

 

O thou eternal Mover of the heavens.

Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch!

O, beat away the busy meddling fiend

That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul.

And from his bosom purge this black despair!

 

WARWICK

 

See, how the pangs of death do make him grin!

 

SALISBURY

 

Disturb him not; let him pass peaceably.

 

KING HENRY VI

 

Peace to his soul, if God's good pleasure be!

Lord cardinal, if thou think'st on heaven's bliss,

Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.

He dies, and makes no sign. O God, forgive him!

 

WARWICK

 

So bad a death argues a monstrous life.

 

KING HENRY VI

 

Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.

Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close;

And let us all to meditation.

 

Exeunt

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I'm clearly thinking about real clergymen, not people pretending to be clergymen. And I'm thinking of people as unpleasant as the Bishop in Fanny and Alexander or as uninspiring as the pastor of Winter Light. And it occurs to me that Joan of Arc in The Passion of Joan of Arc is being tried before an ecclessiastical court, and they don't really look like a nice bunch of guys.

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}A headline in today's Financial Times : *"Muni Warning Issued."* I thought it had something to do with Paul Muni and "I steal..." but it was related to downgrades on investors who have "piled into US municipal debts." They face downgrades on their bonds, or something like that.

That's hilarious !

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