When in Rome (1952)

78 mins | Comedy-drama | 15 April 1952

Director:

Clarence Brown

Producer:

Clarence Brown

Cinematographer:

William Daniels

Editor:

Robert J. Kern

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Edward Carfagno

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The following written foreword appears after the opening credits: "1950 was a Holy Year. Three million pilgrims from every part of the world thronged to Rome, the Eternal City. Our story is about two men who journeyed to Rome that year. One was Father John X. Halligan, a young priest from Coaltown, Pennsylvania, whose mission was a holy one; the other was Joe Brewster, late of Sing Sing, San Quentin, Joliet and Atlanta, whose mission was not so holy...If our story has a moral, it's a simple one: God may move in mysterious ways, but He gets there just the same."
       According to a HR news item, actor Douglas Fowley was under consideration for a role in the film. Although actors Harry Shannon, Walter Sande, Curtis Cooksey, David Fresco, Larry Olsen and Robin Camp are listed on the CBCS, neither they nor their roles were in the released film. According to a HR news item, When in Rome was to have been Cooksey's motion picture debut. Much of the film was shot on location in Rome. Roman locations included The Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and the churchs of Santa Maria Maggiore, St. John Lateran and St. Paul Outside the Walls. According to an M-G-M production memo included in the AMPAS Library file on the film, some interior shots of St. Peter's Basilica were also made. For additional information on the 1950 Holy Year, please see the entries for Holy Year 1950 and The Holy Year at the Vatican in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50. ...

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The following written foreword appears after the opening credits: "1950 was a Holy Year. Three million pilgrims from every part of the world thronged to Rome, the Eternal City. Our story is about two men who journeyed to Rome that year. One was Father John X. Halligan, a young priest from Coaltown, Pennsylvania, whose mission was a holy one; the other was Joe Brewster, late of Sing Sing, San Quentin, Joliet and Atlanta, whose mission was not so holy...If our story has a moral, it's a simple one: God may move in mysterious ways, but He gets there just the same."
       According to a HR news item, actor Douglas Fowley was under consideration for a role in the film. Although actors Harry Shannon, Walter Sande, Curtis Cooksey, David Fresco, Larry Olsen and Robin Camp are listed on the CBCS, neither they nor their roles were in the released film. According to a HR news item, When in Rome was to have been Cooksey's motion picture debut. Much of the film was shot on location in Rome. Roman locations included The Spanish Steps, the Colosseum and the churchs of Santa Maria Maggiore, St. John Lateran and St. Paul Outside the Walls. According to an M-G-M production memo included in the AMPAS Library file on the film, some interior shots of St. Peter's Basilica were also made. For additional information on the 1950 Holy Year, please see the entries for Holy Year 1950 and The Holy Year at the Vatican in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Mar 1952
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1952
p. 3
Film Daily
6 Mar 1952
p. 12
Hollywood Citizen-News
8 Mar 1952
---
Hollywood Citizen-News
10 May 1952
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1951
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jun 1951
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 1951
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 1951
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 1951
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1951
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1952
p. 3
Los Angeles Times
10 May 1952
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Mar 1952
p. 1253
New York Times
12 May 1952
p. 21
Time
5 May 1952
---
Variety
5 Mar 1952
p. 6
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Casting
SOURCES
SONGS
"Panis Angelicus," music and lyrics by César Franck.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 April 1952
Production Date:
19 Jun--mid Aug 1951
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Loew's Inc.
27 February 1952
LP1566
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78
Length(in feet):
7,039
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15526
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On a voyage to Italy for the 1950 Holy Year celebrations, Pennsylvania priest John X. Halligan bunks with Joe Brewster, an affable conman who, unknown to John, has escaped from San Quentin. Joe, who was reared a Catholic, strikes up a friendship with John, but when the boat docks in Genoa, Joe steals his sleeping roommate's suitcase and disembarks in John's cassock to avoid waiting police. Joe's disguise fools them, as well as two priests who have come to meet John. The priests whisk Joe away to see the local sights, then place him aboard a bus filled with clerics bound for Rome. When John awakens, he must leave the boat in Joe's flashy clothes and is immediately arrested. At the police station, the commissioner assumes that John is Joe, until John recites the Preface to the Latin Mass, something only a priest could do. After being outfitted in new ecclesiastic clothing, John leaves for Rome with instructions to help the local police capture Joe. Meanwhile, Joe is befriended by Irishman Father McGinniss, who obtains a room for "Father John" in the Monastery of the Three Saints. Viewing the humble cells of the monks, Joe finds the quarters eerily reminiscent of San Quentin, but is content to have a hideout. When John arrives in Rome, he checks in with commissioner Aggiunto Bodulli, who speaks English peppered with Western idioms learned while a POW in Texas during the war. Bodulli wants John, who is the only person in Italy who can identify Joe, to help him, but is aware that John is reluctant to be a "stool pigeon." While the two men watch ...

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On a voyage to Italy for the 1950 Holy Year celebrations, Pennsylvania priest John X. Halligan bunks with Joe Brewster, an affable conman who, unknown to John, has escaped from San Quentin. Joe, who was reared a Catholic, strikes up a friendship with John, but when the boat docks in Genoa, Joe steals his sleeping roommate's suitcase and disembarks in John's cassock to avoid waiting police. Joe's disguise fools them, as well as two priests who have come to meet John. The priests whisk Joe away to see the local sights, then place him aboard a bus filled with clerics bound for Rome. When John awakens, he must leave the boat in Joe's flashy clothes and is immediately arrested. At the police station, the commissioner assumes that John is Joe, until John recites the Preface to the Latin Mass, something only a priest could do. After being outfitted in new ecclesiastic clothing, John leaves for Rome with instructions to help the local police capture Joe. Meanwhile, Joe is befriended by Irishman Father McGinniss, who obtains a room for "Father John" in the Monastery of the Three Saints. Viewing the humble cells of the monks, Joe finds the quarters eerily reminiscent of San Quentin, but is content to have a hideout. When John arrives in Rome, he checks in with commissioner Aggiunto Bodulli, who speaks English peppered with Western idioms learned while a POW in Texas during the war. Bodulli wants John, who is the only person in Italy who can identify Joe, to help him, but is aware that John is reluctant to be a "stool pigeon." While the two men watch a procession, John is startled but says nothing when he sees Joe carrying a cross and helping a small, elderly priest carry his. Later, when Bodulli tells John that he will have a policeman pick him up the next day at the Monastery of the Three Saints, where he is registered, John realizes that Joe must be there. Unknown to John, Bodulli arranges for policeman Antonio Silesto to follow him. John arrives at the monastery as Joe and McGinniss are listening to a boys choir concert, and Joe is reminded of his days as a choirboy. When Joe is told that someone is waiting to see him, he thinks it is the police and is happy the visitor is John, to whom he apologizes. John wants to turn Joe in, but Joe convinces him to wait twenty-four hours. Later, as John walks through Rome, he realizes that Silesto is following him. Silesto apologizes for his ineptness, then invites John home to dinner to help him celebrate his wife's birthday. During their pleasant dinner, sirens are heard, and John learns that the Monastery of the Three Saints is on fire. He rushes to the monastery, leaving Silesto behind. John is relieved to find Joe, but is knocked out by a falling timber and is carried to safety by Joe. At the Trevi Fountain, a grateful John joins Joe for a carriage tour of Rome. At the Colosseum, Joe tells John that "the boys" were talking about a special pilgrimage to Rome's four major churches through which a penitent can have all of his sins forgiven. John tells Joe that forgiveness is only earned if the penitent is truly sorry, makes a confession and receives Holy Communion. Joe then asks John to hear his confession, and the two embark on the pilgrimage. The next morning, at the third church, St. Paul Outside the Walls, John gives a street urchin money for a relic he knows is phony, and Joe scolds him for putting the boy on the same path he was on as a child. While they are talking, Silesto, who has come to church with his wife, sees them and calls Bodulli. Although Joe and John have not seen Silesto, as they near Saint Peter's, they become worried when a pair of policemen stare at them, and run down an alley. Seeing a locked gate, Joe turns the handle and the pair find themselves in a monastery garden where an elderly monk uses a notepad to relate that they are all there for life, to pray and atone for the sins of others. Joe is puzzled by the air of love among these "lifers" and is shaken when the monk writes an apology for staring, saying that it is because the rusted side gate had not been opened in a hundred years. After Joe and John leave, Joe suggests that they split up so that John will not get in trouble, and the two take a taxi to the train station, where Joe slips away among a throng of priests. Bodulli and his men find John, and he unintentionally gives Joe's plans away by mentioning the names of the three churches they have just visited. Knowing that the fourth church on the pilgrimage is St. Peter's, Bodulli takes John with them to the Vatican. They arrive just after Joe has gone through the Holy Door, thus completing his pilgrimage. Joe does not resist his arrest, but soon escapes, disappointing John, who thinks that he must have been mistaken about Joe's true desire for repentance. Later, while the downhearted John is taking a walk, he again comes to the monastery gate and is surprised that it opens easily. Inside, he finds Joe tending the garden and angrily accuses him of using the kindly monks. Joe does not speak, but uses a notepad to tell John that he had been in a place with a past but no future and wants to spend the rest of his life in a place with a future but no past. The elderly monk then reassures John by writing that he knows everything about Joe and believes him to be truly penitent. Content, John gives Joe his most prized possession, his mother's rosary, and promises to work to get him a pardon in America and to visit him during the next Holy Year, in twenty-five years.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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