A marvelous spectacle spanning six decades and two continents, The Keys of the Kingdom is the glorious epic that introduced audiences to screen newcomer Gregory Peck. After losing his parents and his childhood sweetheart ... more »to tragedy, Francis Chisholm (Peck) joins the priesthood and devotes himself to a life of service and compassion. But Chisholm?s unorthodox beliefs raise eyebrows among his superiors, especially Bishop Angus Mealy (Vincent Price). And when he is sent to the farthest reaches of China to rebuild an abandoned mission, Chisholm faces his greatest challenge of all: to tame a hostile land, win over a superstitious people and save his parish from an invading army. Nominated* for four Academy Awards®, including Best Actor (Peck), The Keys of the Kingdom is a ?towering film stamped with greatness? (The Independent).« less
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the best-selling novel by A.J. Cronin, who also had a part in writing the script, this is a quiet, inspiring film that follows the long life of Father Francis Chisholm, who was not talented or clever in the traditional sense, but who lead a courageous and adventurous life and touched so many people with his great love, generosity and faith.
It starts with him as a child in Scotland, and when he becomes a priest, he is sent to China as a missionary, where he endures a multitude of challenges and successes.
It is told in the form of a narrative, as Cedric Hardwicke, playing Monsignor Sleeth, reads through Father Chisholm's journal. This was Gregory Peck's second starring role (the first being "Days of Glory", which was not well received) and it earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination; he is wonderful in the part, and other great performances come from Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Willie Tullock, Rose Stradner as Sister Maria-Veronica, Benson Fong as Joseph, and Roddy McDowall as the young Francis.
Sensitive direction by John Stahl and music by Alfred Newman complete this film, which is satisfying viewing, and a must for Peck fans.
being 60 years old, the quality of the film shows a little age, but does not take away from the beauty of it. Total running time is 137 minutes."
This movie is a lesson in humility and grandure for living.
Alejandra Vernon | 05/30/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film that will be remembered for a lifetime. Gregory Peck gives us the ingredients for living life in a very rewarding way. We don't need material things to have a life that is full. His receipe was simple but good: selflessness, humility, strong faith in God, patience, determination, kindness, and above all love. He was able to forgive those who tried to make him feel less than he was, and he always saw the good in those who tormented him. I would watch this movie, and show it to others, over and over again. It is a masterpiece. It is one of the few movies that gives people a role model without violence."
The Keys of the Kingdom
Linda Happer | Seattle, WA | 12/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent old movie showing how a Catholic Priest (Gregory Peck) overcomes adversity while trying to establish a Christian mission deep in China. When first arriving, he refuses to use rice to "buy" converts as the previous mission director had, and as a result has no "converts"----only one true believer who comes to offer to be his helper. They pray constantly for God to show a way, and eventually God does answer that prayer and reveals to Peck another way to win converts and save souls----a way of truth and integrity and compassion. This is NOT some dry, stale, boring story----the movie is filled with gun battles, war, the burning of the village, and a lost love, as China is caught up in the policital upheavel of the early 20th century. The best part is the end....one last battle back in the States....and the fruit of all his years in China is revealed."
Et tibi dabo, clavis regni..
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 10/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...and to you I give the Keys of the Kingdom, as they say in Latin--though Christ was speaking Aramaic when He made this promise to Simon Peter.And there are similarities, I suppose, between Saint Peter and the priest played by Gregory Peck in this movie. Neither seem at the outset to be the stuff of sainthood: both roughhewn men, stumbling often as they try to follow Christ's teachings.Peck plays a Scottish priest who is a missionary to China just before (and then during) the Revolution. His early life, as played by Roddy McDowell, is fraught with hardships and disappointments--he can never measure up to a fellow priest played by Vincent Price, who seems destined to be a shooting star in the hierarchy. But he finds a friend in the old bishop, played by Edmund Gwenn. Eventually Peck finds his way to China, and we see his struggles to carve out a parish mission there, until he is fortunate enough to gain a major patron who deeds him a large parcel of land. And so Peck lives his missionary life, surviving imperious sisters, natural disasters, civil war, and even a visit from Vincent Price. This is one of the pictures that used to make me cry, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that category. At last viewing, however, I did think that Peck was still too inexperienced to give the role his all, but "The Keys of the Kingdom" remains a good sentimental tearjerker about self-sacrifice and its higher rewards."
Compelling Film About Serving God and Man
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 07/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with "The Nun's Story" this has to be the best film made about religious faith and service. The film covers the life of Father Francis Chisholm (Gregory Peck), a Scottish priest, who by his own account is imperfect. By acknowleding his own imperfections he is willing to accept his differences with his fellow man. This mindset serves him well in his assignment as the head of a mission in China at the end of the 19th century. The Chinese are naturally suspicious of Westerners with their strange customs and religions and Father Chisholm's nature serves him well. Father Chisholm does not see his role as priest to erect large edifices or register converts. Rather, he sees his calling as to serve humanity as Christ did. In a way this film is light years ahead of it's time in it's promotion of ecumenism. Father Chisholm's work in China is a precedent for the work Mother Teresa did in Calcutta. In his film debut, Peck delivers probably the best work of his career. The role requires that he assay sixty years of a man's life and he does so remarkably. It's all the more impressive when you consider he was 28 at the time. Good supporting turns by Edmund Gwenn as Chisholm's kindly bishop, Thomas Mitchell as Chisholm's atheistic doctor friend, and Vincent Price as Chisholm's polar opposite in the priesthood."