John Flaherty is a young and ambitious American priest who arrives in the Papal sovereign city state of the Vatican in 1944 to take his holy orders as a Catholic priest. After distinguishing himself in combat in the World War II battlefields of northern Italy, he’s assigned as the Vatican treasurer. With the Vatican strapped for money during the war, Flaherty soon makes illegal business deals with a corrupt U.S. Army sergeant named Varese, who deals goods on the local black market, which is connected to a ruthless Sicilian mobster named Don Appolini.
Appolini agrees to fund Flaherty’s operation for profit through his Swiss bank connections. Flaherty’s mentor, Cardinal Santoni, the secretary to the elderly but powerful Pope, learns of Flaherty’s business deals, but covers for Flaherty in order for them to rise in the ranks of the church against Santoni’s rival, Cardinal Vinci. But Flaherty’s double life as a black marketeer and priest takes a turn when he falls in love with a young woman.
Monsignor is a 1982 American Catholic drama film directed by Frank Perry about a Roman Catholic priest’s rise through the ranks of the Vatican, during and after World War II. Along the way, he involves the Vatican in the black marketeering operations of a Mafia don, and has an affair with a woman in the postulant stage of becoming a nun. He eventually repents and returns to his faith, attempting to make right the things he has done wrong.
The cast includes Christopher Reeve, Geneviève Bujold, Fernando Rey, Jason Miller, Joseph Cortese, Adolfo Celi, and Leonardo Cimino.
The film was not well received by critics and performed poorly at the box office; Reeve later blamed this on poor editing. Supporting actors Miller and Rey were singled out for their strong performances. The film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Musical Score, the only Razzie nomination John Williams ever received in his career to date. The filming location was entirely in Rome, Italy.
Oirected by: Frank Perry
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Geneviève Bujold, Fernando Rey, Jason Miller, Joe Cortese, Leonardo Cimino, Tomas Milian, Milena Vukotic
Screenplay by: Abraham Polonsky
Production Design by: John DeCuir Jr.
Cinematography by: Billy Williams
Film Editing by: Peter E. Berger
Costume Design by: Theoni V. Aldredge
Set Decoration by: Joe Chevalier, Carlo Gervasi
Art Direction by: Stefano Maria Ortolani
Music by: John Williams
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: October 22, 1982