When director John Ford and actor Henry Fonda collaborate, audiences know they are in for a powerful screen experience. To such films as The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine and Fort Apache add this brave, unsparing, magnificently lensed (by Mexico's Gabriel Figueroa) work. Based on Graham Greene's novel The Power and the Glory, the story follows a priest (Fonda) in Latin America pursued by a ruthless police lieutenant carrying out the dictates of an oppressive, anti-clerical government. There's another fugitive as well -- an American killer on the run -- and the paths of the two hunted men cross with fateful consequences.
Although some of his earlier films such as THE GRAPES OF WRATH had stirred controversy, John Ford had never before dealt with potentially incendiary religious issues as he does in this adaptation of Graham Greene's allegorical masterpiece THE POWER AND THE GLORY. The virulent anticlericalism of a Latin American country's ruling regime has driven from the country all the region's priests but one (Henry Fonda), who has taken refuge in an abandoned village church. When he's discovered by a woman (Dolores Del Rio) seeking to have her child baptized, he agrees to christen all of the village infants. A police lieutenant (Pedro Armendariz) arrives in the area, intent on killing the priest and planning to smoke him out by threatening to execute a few symbolic hostages in every village until he is turned in. Although the fugitive quickly comes forward to surrender, the lieutenant fails to recognize and arrest him. The frightened priest scrambles to leave the country but finds himself being pursued by a beggar who has found a wanted poster bearing his picture. Fonda is well suited to the role of the tormented priest in a film that has marked similarities to the director's THE INFORMER. Gabriel Figueroa, the éminence grise of Mexican cinematographers, masterfully captures the visual bounty of the Mexican landscape. Ford, who considered this underrated work one of his best, sculpts the starkly beautiful imagery and the understated performance of his star into a heartfelt expressionistic portrait graced with a shadowy fringe of the sacred.
A Catholic priest finds himself pursued by the military when his Latin American country outlaws religion. His faith and loyalty compel him to remain with the peasants he ministers to even as the new government forces him to become a fugitive.
The Turner videocassette is part of the "RKO Collection."
Copyright 1947 Argosy Pictures Corporation.
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