Wednesday, June 27, 2018

1962 Vocational Film, Starring Jack Nicholson

My thanks to an old friend, Mr John Boyden, for bringing to my attention this film made by the Franciscans to promote vocations in 1962, starring Jack Nicholson, (yes, the Jack Nicholson!) as a young friar looking back on how he found his way to the priesthood. It is interesting to see some of his characteristic facial expressions and accents applied to such a role.
The film is perhaps a bit melodramatic for modern tastes, very much in the tenor of its times, but no less interesting for all that. The strong emphasis on the theology of the priesthood as a spiritual ministry, rather than a form of social work, is very edifying, especially for those of us who grew up in the era immediately following, when this was very much out of fashion. Also in keeping with the tenor of the times, no one thought it was out of place for the good Padre to be shown reminiscing about his journey to the priesthood while smoking; I think this would earn it a PG-13 today. Much has changed since this film was made, for better and for worse, but some things never change in Hollywood; if Nicholson looks a little old for a high school senior here, it’s because he was 25 when he made this, just as Tom Holland, the actor who plays high-school student Peter Parker / Spiderman in the Marvel Universe films, is 22.

In December of 2016, we shared a film made by the Paulist Fathers in the mid-1960s to promote vocations, in which the actor Brian Keith, who later played Uncle Bill on Family Affair, had a small part.

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