The Cardinal

Released 1963




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Movie Summary

Otto Preminger
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The Cardinal is a 1963 film about the tumultuous life of a priest and his rise through Catholic hierarchy during the troubled decades of the early 20th century. Directed by Academy Award-nominated Otto Preminger, the film shows Father Stephen Fermoyle (Tom Tryon) going into the world in 1917 and gradually learning that he does not have all the answers. The complexities of his faith give him doubts and cause him agonies, and he must deal with racial and religious prejudices as well as his own inner feelings. By the time Father Stephen becomes Cardinal in 1939, another war is on the horizon, and the future is unclear both for the world and for the Catholic Church.


Tom Tryon

Tom Tryon

Stephen Fermoyle

Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider

Annemarie von Hartman

John Huston (I)

John Huston (I)

Cardinal Glennon

Carol Lynley

Carol Lynley

Mona Fermoyle

Raf Vallone

Raf Vallone

Cardinal Quarenghi

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • The vaudeville act - "Bobby And His Adora-Belles" - which the hero witnesses in a small theatre is led by an uncredited Robert Morse.

    • Despite being filmed in three countries, almost entirely on location, and running for almost three hours with a very large cast, the film was completed in only 53 shooting days.

    • Tom Tryon always claimed that he had had such a hard time with director Otto Preminger on this movie that he resolved to give up acting. He did eventually do this, and instead became a best-selling novelist. However, it is worth noting that this didn't happen until another six years had passed, and also that his very next film role was in In Harm's Way - directed by Otto Preminger.

    • Although Robert Dozier was the only writer credited for this film, Otto Preminger claimed in his autobiography that the final version of the script was the work of Gore Vidal - surprisingly, given the subject-matter, as Vidal was a militant atheist. Ring Lardner Jr., a former communist, also worked on the script without credit.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (1)

    • In the small role of the hero's sister, Maggie McNamara returned to film acting after a nine-year gap. She had been introduced to films in another Otto Preminger movie, "The Moon Is Blue", in 1953 - a great success which won her an Oscar nomination. However, the pressures of new fame took a great toll on her, and, after appearing in "Three Coins In The Fountain" and "Prince Of Players" in 1954 (the latter a notable flop), she suffered a prolonged nervous breakdown. She made an attempt to return to acting in the early 60s, but this was her only film in that period (she did a handful of television roles), and she was working as a secretary at the time of her suicide a few years later.


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Social Issues, Religion & Spirituality, Historical, Classics, 60s