Mass Appeal (1984)

Action, Drama
Jack Lemmon, Zeljko Ivanek, Talia Balsam, Gloria Stuart
Father Tim Farley, who presides over St. Francis Church, is arguably the most popular priest within the diocese led by Monsignor Thomas Burke, Father Farley's popularity as witnessed by the size and enthusiasm of the congregation at his church services. Many see Monsignor Burke as autocratic, he having a very narrow and traditionally conservative view of the church in addition. Father Farley often socializes with Monsignor Burke, the two most recently having gone on vacation together to Yugoslavia, but Father Farley sees this socializing more as a professional obligation than a true want, Father Farley who will tell what he considers little white lies to get out of many of those social commitments. Father Farley will tell those little white lies in more circumstances to achieve his desired end, those lies of which his devoted, loyal and devout housekeeper Margaret refuses to be a part. Although not having much to do with the diocese's seminary, Father Farley plea bargains with the Monsignor to ordain seminarian Mark Dolson as a deacon, the Monsignor's condition being only if he is to be the deacon at St. Francis for a one month probation period. The Monsignor's original want not to ordain Mark is because Mark often openly challenges what church elders tell him, the Monsignor feeling that Mark not having the temperament not only to be a deacon but more importantly a priest. Although Father Farley had seen Mark's challenges first hand and thus sees him as much as a pain in the neck as most of those at the seminary do, he came to Mark's defense in this matter if only in not agreeing with the Monsignor's open and closed judgment of Mark, the judgment solely because Mark often disagreed with his views. In spending time with Mark, Father Farley finds that Mark doesn't have a filter between his thoughts/emotions and what comes out of his mouth, in turn the congregation as a collective not having the best initial opinion of him. A series of events leads to a specific incident placing Mark's position in the church at risk. As such, Father Farley has to make a decision about how far he is willing to go to defend Mark at the risk of his own personal and professional standing. In the process, Father Farley may have to examine his own many imperfections as a priest and a human being.—Huggo
  • 1984-12-14 Released:
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  • Glenn Jordan Director:
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