Saturday, April 7, 2012

Film Review: The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)

In only his fourth film.
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TCMDb: A crusading priest struggles to build a mission in China.

     Despite some peoples' beliefs, I've always held firm to the idea that a "quiet" picture is, in some ways, a lot better than a "loud" picture. What I mean by that is a picture like Singin' in the Rain is easily recognizable; as soon as you show a picture of a fellow hanging onto a lamp post with a smiling face upturned with rain pelting down on it, if you know anything about pictures, there's a good fifty-fifty chance of you getting the name of the film right, even if you haven't seen it before. However, if you take a film like The Keys of the Kingdom and show a picture of a man looking down at a sick little boy, whom happens to be Chinese, worrying and praying that what he is doing will save the boy, unless you've seen the picture, or something of that sort, that fifty-fifty percent that you had with Singin' in the Rain has gone down to a much lower percentage, even if you do, in the very least, recognize the man as being Gregory Peck.
Gregory as Father Francis Chrisholm.
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     Understand though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a "loud" picture. They are just as imperative and meaningful as that of a more "quiet" picture, and vice-verse; just because the picture is "quiet" doesn't mean that it cannot also be as exciting, fun, and amusing as any "loud" picture is. They both just go at it in different ways.
     The Keys of the Kingdom ranks as one of my Gregory Peck Essentials because everything about it in my mind is absolutely perfect. Here is a man, very relatively new to the Hollywood scene, and he gives a performance that rings so true and poignant and humble today as it did back in 1944 that it nearly makes my head spin.
    However, just because The Keys of the Kingdom is "quiet" does not mean that there isn't any exciting moments, quite the contrary in fact. Later on in the film, there's a war between the Imperial and Revolutionary forces, and between Gregory and Thomas Mitchell, who plays Dr. Willie Tulloch, a friend of Father Chrisholm, have to treat the plethora of wounded soldiers and citizens. It's not all blood, guts, and glory, but nonetheless it's still powerful, and then when Dr. Tulloch himself gets sick from exhaustion . . . well, it's a must see.
Father Chrisholm and Dr. Willie Tulloch.
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     Now, while there is some romance between Francis when he's young and he's yet to become a priest (he has no intention of becoming one when he's young), that's not the key focus of the film at all, and I'm quite glad about that. Don't get me wrong, I like a little romance even though I'm not a romantic (they just knew how to do it right back in the "old" days), but the whole point of it is that Father Chrisholm, an unorthodox priest, goes to China to do God's work his way.
     I would also like to point out while this film is about a priest and all of his accomplishments and hardships rolled into one, never really does it ever feel too religous for me. There's also some very comedic happenings that come in just at the right time.
     I give this film a 4/4 stars, and I definitely recommend this to anyone so do yourself a favor and watch it!

1 comment:

Carmen said...

I haven't seen this movie. Now I'm dying to do it!!! Great review, R.C.!!