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Gregory Peck: An Agreeable Gentleman

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
7:00 p.m. The Keys of the Kingdom
John M. Stahl (U.S., 1944)

A Scottish priest spurns the upward slope of careerism for a life’s work in rural China in this grand Hollywood spectacle, which offered a breakthrough role (and an Oscar nomination) for a young Gregory Peck. After butting heads with his superiors in Scotland, Father Chisholm (Peck) heads to China, where his humility and selfless devotion to local villagers soon earn him a devoted following, and where a committed medical doctor (and atheist) and a smug, upwardly mobile fellow Catholic (Vincent Price) provide dissenting voices on “salvation.” Rarely offscreen, the then virtually unknown Peck embodies the quiet, forceful dignity that would mark nearly all his future roles. As the New York Times wrote in 1944, this “tall and spare newcomer gives a quiet and forceful performance in the role of the priest and carries a fine impression of godly devotion and dignity.”

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Nunnally Johnson, based on the novel by A.J. Cronin. Photographed by Arthur Miller. With Vincent Price, Rosa Stradner, Roddy McDowall, Thomas Mitchell. (137 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Criterion Pictures/Twentieth-Century Fox)