The Shoes of the Fisherman is a 1968 American drama film based on the 1963 novel of the same name by the Australian novelist Morris West. Shot in Rome, the motion picture was directed by Michael Anderson and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Production 4 Reception 5 References 6 External links
Set during the height of the Cold War, The Shoes of the Fisherman
opens as protagonist Kiril Pavlovich Lakota (Anthony Quinn), the
Metropolitan Archbishop of Lviv (or Lvov as it is spelled in the movie
adaptation), is unexpectedly set free after twenty years in a Siberian
labour camp by his former jailer, Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (Laurence
Olivier), now the premier of the Soviet Union.
He is sent to Rome, where the elderly fictional Pope (John Gielgud)
makes him a Cardinal in the title of St. Athanasius. Lakota is
reluctant, begging to be given "a simple mission with simple men," but
the Pope insists that he kneel and receive the scarlet zucchetto that
designates the rank of cardinal.
When the Pontiff suddenly collapses and dies, the process of a papal
conclave begins, and Cardinal Lakota participates as one of the
electors. During the sede vacante, two cardinals in particular,
Cardinal Leone (Leo McKern) and Cardinal Rinaldi (Vittorio De Sica)
are shown to be papabili (candidates). After seven deadlocked ballots,
Lakota is unexpectedly elected Pope as a compromise candidate
(suggested by Cardinal Rinaldi) by acclamation after the cardinals,
unable to decide between the leading candidates, interview him and are
impressed by his ideas and his humility. Lakota takes the name of Pope
Kiril. Meanwhile, the world is on the brink of nuclear war due to a
Chinese–Soviet feud made worse by a famine caused by trade
restrictions brought against China by the United States.
The evening after his election, Pope Kiril, with the help of his
valet, Gelasio (Arnoldo Foà), sneaks out of the Vatican and explores
the city of Rome dressed as a simple priest. By chance, he encounters
Dr. Ruth Faber, who is in a troubled marriage with a Rome-based
television journalist, George Faber (David Janssen). Later, the Pope
returns to the Soviet Union, dressed in civilian clothing, to meet
privately with Kamenev and Chairman Peng (Burt Kwouk) of China to
discuss the ongoing crisis.
Pope Kiril realises that if the troubles in China continue, the cost
could be a war that could ultimately rip the world apart. At his papal
coronation, Kiril removes his tiara (in a gesture of humility) and
pledges to sell the Church's property to help the Chinese, much to the
delight of the crowds in
St. Peter's Square
Film rights were bought by MGM in 1964. They assigned it to producer
George Englund who was to write the script with Morris West.
(Englund was also making
Dark of the Sun
Structurally speaking I've always thought The Shoes of the Fisherman was one of my weaker books. It wanders too much. The script for the film is tighter, more direct and I think it says in a stronger way part of what I wanted to say in the novel. We've come to a point in history where men - black or white, Marxist or capitalist, christian or non christian - are going to have to make a choice. They're either going to have to commit themselves to an act of love for each other or an act of hate for each other. Men on each side have to say: "Look we're all brothers. Why do we kill each other in the streets? Don't lets drop the atomic bomb. Let's talk for one hour more." Today this is the real triumph of good over evil. It's what i've tried to put into the last speech for the film.
Reception The film was the sixth most popular movie at the Australian box office in 1969. However it was still a notable box office disappointment. Alex North was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Score, and George Davis and Edward Carfagno for Best Art Direction. References
^ Metro-Goldwyn Omits Dividend; O' Brien Resigns: Board Cites Possible
Loss Of Up to $19 Million in The Current Fiscal Year Bronfman Named
Chairman Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] May
27, 1969: 2.
^ M-G-M buys novel by west. (1964, Jun 16). New York Times
(1923-Current File) Retrieved from
^ Scheuer, P. K. (1964, Sep 18). Broadway's mania: Set films to music.
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
v t e
Films directed by Michael Anderson
Private Angelo (1949)
Hell Is Sold Out