Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Keys of the Kingdom

Now moving on to something more wholesome...

If I made a list of my top ten favorite actors I believe that Gregory Peck would undoubtedly make that top ten. Movies like The Keys of the Kingdom are a good reason why, too. However, the main reason would be because his first name was actually Eldred. Full name: Eldred Gregory Peck. It would have been awesome if Cary Grant and Gregory Peck could have starred in a movie together so I could say that Archibald Leach and Eldred Peck had been in a movie together, but that was not the case. I do say that they probably had two of the coolest names of any actors.

That bit of silliness aside let's dish out the goods. 

The Keys of the Kingdom was Gregory Peck's second film and it earned him an Oscar nominee for Best Actor. It was released in 1944 and co-starred Vincent Price, Thomas Mitchell, and Edmund Gwenn. You can also see a cameo of a young Roddy McDowall at the beginning of the film as the younger version of Peck's character. 

Add in a screenplay co-written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the directorial effort of John M. Stahl (a vastly underrated director) and what we have here is a film that is incredibly well put-together. 

Peck is Francis Chisholm, a catholic priest that has the honor of being transferred from his hometown of Tynedale, Scotland, to a small village in China where he is supposed to set up a Catholic parish. There are not many open-minded christian types (I admit I chuckled as I typed that) in China so Father Francis has his work set out for him. He doesn't even have a proper building. His initial reception in China is also a bit frosty and it is a while before he can form any kind of congregation or even have anything to house a congregation in. 

The movie takes place over a series of decades. It starts us out at the end when Francis is old and gray and back at home before going way back the Francis's childhood and then working forward from there. 

This film is a based off of a religious fiction book. So it can feel kind of preachy. This is where I insert my inevitable smartass "duh, the main character is a Catholic priest" comment. I'm not really the most religious guy, but this didn't bother me. Of course, it's not like I didn't know what the movie was going to be about before I started watching it, either.

Peck's character represents the archetypal good guy character and I think that only the most cynical asshole would want him to fail. So probably most people, these days. He is a "goody, goody," but if there were more people like him in real life I probably wouldn't be so distrusting and disliking of people in general.

This is a very inspiring movie and it's worth watching if you get a chance to see it.

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