Leo McCarey

Int.: Padre James G. Keller, Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, Jack Benny, Ann Blyth, Bing Crosby, Paul Douglas, Irene Dunne, William Holden, Bob Hope, Loretta Young (se stessi). Prod.: William Perlberg per Christopher Films · 16mm. Bn. D.: 27’.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Father James G. Keller was a charismatic Catholic priest whose message of personal responsibility for social justice and of America as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles found surprising resonance in the early years of the Cold War, as a “compassionate conservative” response to Communism. The media-savvy priest attracted many followers among Hollywood’s religious community, including McCarey, who apparently saw him as a real-life version of Going My Way’s Father O’Malley. This intriguing 30-minute film, produced by William Perlberg (The Song of Bernadette) for Father Keller’s charity, The Christophers, was distributed without charge for television and theatrical showings, and represents McCarey’s principled response to the Red Scare: before an unlikely group of celebrities gathered in Jack Benny’s home, the good father lays out his method for achieving an America free of racial and religious prejudice, where poverty will be eliminated by individual acts of kindness (as in Good Sam) rather than a radical redistribution of wealth. McCarey had testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, but declined to ‘name names’ on the eminently democratic grounds that, while the Communist Party was clearly a malignant agent of a foreign government, party membership was not against the law. A fascinating companion piece to McCarey’s 1952 My Son John, shown in Il Cinema Ritrovato in 2006. This is a rare, uncut print which includes Bing Crosby’s performance of the song Early American.

Dave Kehr

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