During World War II, Alexander Ramati worked as a war journalist, entering Assisi with the Allied forces where he met Father Rufino Niccacci, whose Franciscan Monastery of San Damiano in Assisi worked to give Jewis people during World War II new identities and hid them from the Germans, which is much different than how so much of the Catholic Church dealt with that side of World War II.
After interviewing Niccacci, he would write the book that this is based on, as well as direct the movie. Not many authors have directed their own books, but thanks to this Letterboxd list, you can count Ramati in the same league as Fernando Arrabal (Long Live Death, Car Cemetery), Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Lord of Illusions), Enki Bilal (Immortal), William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist III, The Ninth Configuration), Bertrand Blier (Going Places), Catherine Breillat (A Real Young Girl, Night After Night, Anatomy of Hell, 36 Fillette, Abuse of Weakness), Emmanuel Carrère (The Mustache), Medgi Charef (Tea In the Harem), Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Jean Cocteau (The Eagle with Two Heads, The Storm Within), Michael Crichton (Pursuit, First Great Train Robbery), Ramón de España (Haz conmigo lo que quieras), Margeuerite Duras (Agatha and the Limitless Reading; Baxter, Ver Baxter; The Children; Destroy, She Said; Endless Days In the Trees; India Song; Jaune, Le Soleil; La Musica), Brad Fraser (Leaving Metropolis), Buddy Giovinazzo (Life Is Hot In Cracktown), Sacha Guitry (The Story of a Cheat), Peter Handke (The Absence, The Left-Handed Woman), Václav Havel (Odcházení), Ethan Hawke (The Hottest State), Michel Houellebecq (Possibility of an Island), Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Dance of Reality, Endless Poetry), Junji Ito (Tomio), Elia Kazan (America America, The Arrangement), Stephen King (Maximum Overdrive), Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, The Shape of Things), Robert Lepage (Nô), André Malraux (Days of Hope), David Mamet (Oileanna), Thomas McGuane (92 In the Shade), Gian Carlo Menotti (The Medium), Oscar Micheaux (The Homesteader), Frank Miller (Sin City, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee), Yukio Mishima (Patriotism), John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Hayao Miyazaki (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, The Wind Rises), Dito Montiel (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), Laura Mulvey (Riddles of the Sphinx), Ryū Murakami (Almost Transparent Blue; It’s Aigt, My Friend, Raffles Hotel, Tokyo Decadence, Dance With Me), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Marcel Pagnol (Topaze), Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree), Pier Paolo Pasolini (Accattone), Lucía Puenzo (The Fish Child, The German Doctor), Atiq Rahimi (Earth and Ashes, The Patience Stone), Jean Rollin (Two Orphan Vampires), Ousmane Sembène (Mandabi, Xala), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Wild Mountain Thyme), Vasily Shukshin (There Is Such a Lad), Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead), Preston Sturges (Christmas In July), Abdellah Taïa (Salvation Army), Adriana Trigiani (Big Stone Gap), Dalton Trumbo (Johnny Got His Gun), Petr Zelenka (Wrong Side Up), Florian Zeller (The Father) and for Cannon lovers, Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance.
Ben Cross is Rufino Niccacci, James Mason is Giuseppe Placido Nicolini and Maximilian Schell plays Colonel Valentin Müller, while Edmund Purdom probably is in the classiest movie of his late career as Cardinal Della Costa. Yet somehow, even with an hour cut from the movie, it still moves quite slow.
Yet as I must watch every Cannon movie, I watched it. There’s an idea for a good movie here. This isn’t it, sadly. And it was released a year after Mason died, which just makes me sad.