When in Rome (1952): Brown’s Morality Tale, Starring Van Johnson and Paul Douglas

Clarence Brown directed When in Rome, a morality tale based on story by Robert Buckner, Dorothy Kingsley, and Charles Schnee, starring Van Johnson and Paul Douglas.

Johnson plays Father John X. Halligan, a Catholic Priest visiting Rome, for the 1950 Holy Year. Along the way, con man Joe Brewster (Douglas), wanted by the authorities, steals Halligan’s identity in order to evade arrest.

Italian police chief (Calleia) assures Halligan they will find and arrest Brewster, but Halligan manages to track down Brewster. The two develop a friendship of sorts and Brewster eventually makes his first confession.

The two then visit Rome and the Vatican as part of a pilgrimage. In the process, they visit a monastery, where the men only talk to a superior, and Brewster is drawn to the place.

When Halligan convinces the police to allow Brewster to complete his pilgrimage, he is taken into custody. Halligan pleads with the police chief to release Brewster, convinced that Brewster is reformed. But Brewster escapes again, making Halligan unsure of his abilities.

Later, Halligan is surprised to find Brewster living as a monk.  Brewster, using pen and paper to communicate, tells Halligan that in prison he was in the past, and now he wants to be in the future.

The two men then vow to meet in the next Holy Year, set to take lace in 25 years.

Cast
Van Johnson as Father John X.Halligan
Paul Douglas as Joe Brewster
Joseph Calleia as Aggiunto Bodulli
Carlo Rizzo as Antonio Silesto
Tudor Owen as Father McGinniss
Dino Nardi as Commissario Genoa
Aldo Silvaro as Cabby
Mario Siletti as Luigi Lugucetti
Emory Parnell as Ship’s Captain