CANNON MONTH 2: Catholic Boys (1985)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie is really Heaven Help Us, which wasn’t produced by Cannon but was released under the name Catholic Boys in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

Heaven Help Us was originally written in 1978 as a masters thesis by NYU student Charles Purpura who based it on his childhood in Catholic schools. Purpura soon dropped out of NYU and was fired from his job at a lithography shop for organizing a union. To make things worse, he was denied unemployment benefits because his nighttime screenwriting was considered potentially lucrative. He filed for bankruptcy, borrowed some money and left America for India. As for its director, Michael Dinner, he had once been a singer-songwriter and recording artist for Fantasy Records.

The film is an episodic story of the lives of Catholic boys in the at times brutal St. Basil’s. Michael Dunn (Andrew McCarthy) and his sister Boo have been sent to Brooklyn to live with their Irish-Catholic grandparents, who want Michael to fulfill his parent’s dream of him being a priest. He soon becomes friends with the overweight Caesar (Malcolm Danare) and has to deal with that student’s personal nemesis, Ed Rooney (Kevin Dillon).

Complicating that priestly dream is a relationship with Danni (Mary Stuart Masterson) and the misadventures the boys get into once Caesar and Rooney become friends. This brings them into conflict with the discipline of Brother Constance (Jay Patterson) and the somewhat bemused brothers Thaddeus and Timothy (Donald Sutherland and John Heard). And hey — there’s also Wallace Shawn as Father Abruzzi.

McCarthy said that he felt this was probably the best movie he made in the 80s even if only “about twelve people saw it.”

Oh man — I forgot that Larry “Bud” Melman is in this!

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