104. Leon Morin : Priest

Leonard Maltin's Rating :
Should be :

IMDB Rating : 7.4

Rotten Tomatoes Rating : 95%

Rotten Tomato Info: "Jean-Paul Belmondo portrays Leon Morin, an altruistic priest who believes that any sin can be expunged by a good dose of faith. Emmanuelle Riva plays a wayward woman who long ago decided that the easiest way was the best. Belmondo makes it his mission to steer Riva onto the right path. Given the censorial climate of 1961, it isn't surprising that the picture was shorn of 22 minutes for its American release."

Leonard says in his review : "Belmondo gives subdued, offbeat performance as clergyman trying to set shady woman onto the path of righteousness."

Leonard really doesn't have too mach to say about this great movie starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and directed by the great Jean-Pierre Melville. In his "Great Movie Review" Roger Ebert said: ""Leon Morin, Priest" is a consistently intriguing film, because Melville so cleverly plays with our expectations. There is an undercurrent of sincere religiosity at work. Morin is a sincere priest who is prepared to accept a posting in a remote district where no one will be interested in his books. 'I will convert the nations,' he says, 'starting with this village.'"

The movie opens with the widow Barny telling us about her life in a town in France during World War II. Her town is occupied by Italian troops, but for Barny life goes on. When the Germans moved in Berny and her friends decided to have their children baptized. Being Jewish or communist wasn't going to go over well with the new regime. "out of the dark church there stepped into the light four children newly baptized by the grace of God and the Germans."

Barny decided to go in to a church and playfully give the priest a piece of her mind. She walked in to the confessional of Leon Morin. She tells him "religion is the opium of the people", and the relationship between the idealistic priest and the communist atheist begins.

The pair make a handsome couple and we are left to wonder where their relationship will go. They meet, and talk and debate. Leon wants to convert her, and she is intrigued by him. Barny tell Father that she is in love with a girl, and Leon tells her that all the men her age are gone. Leon tells her that he is busy cranking out baptismal certificates for Jews who come to whom.

The clips flash by, and we see Barny becoming closer and closer to Morin. The communist atheist finally decides she wants to convert.

Leon begins counseling friends of Barny, and they all seem to be good looking. The Americans move in, and the Germans move out. Barny dreams of a romance with Leon and asks Leon if he wasn't a priest if he would marry her. Leon walked out without answering. After the war Leon has to go to a new parish in the countryside.

A beautiful story of faith, love, temptation and spirituality.

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