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The Detective (1954)

Father Brown (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 1 November 1954 (USA)
Works of art are disappearing, stolen by a master thief, a master of disguise. Father Brown has two goals: to catch the thief and to save his soul.

Director:

Robert Hamer

Writers:

G.K. Chesterton (stories), Thelma Schnee (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alec Guinness ... Father Brown
Joan Greenwood ... Lady Warren
Peter Finch ... Flambeau
Cecil Parker ... The Bishop
Bernard Lee ... Inspector Valentine
Sidney James ... Parkinson
Gérard Oury ... Inspector Dubois (as Gerard Oury)
Ernest Clark ... Bishop's Secretary
Aubrey Woods Aubrey Woods ... Charlie
John Salew John Salew ... Station Sergeant
Sam Kydd ... Scotland Yard Sergeant
John Horsley ... Inspector Wilkins
Jack McNaughton Jack McNaughton ... Railway Guard
Hugh Dempster Hugh Dempster ... Man in Bowler Hat
Eugene Deckers ... French Cavalry Officer
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Storyline

Amateur detective Father Ignatius Brown defies his Bishop and decides to transport to Rome a holy relic from his church, a cross that once belonged to St. Augustin, rather than allow the more elaborate plans to proceed. On the channel crossing, he becomes suspicious of a fellow traveller, a Mr. Dobson, who Brown quickly determines is not the automobile salesman he claims to be. He does befriend another priest who he takes into his confidence, but soon realizes that his suspicions should have been reversed. The fake priest is in fact Gustave Flambeau, a professional art thief and an expert at disguise. After he gets away with the cross, Brown refuses to work with the police, insisting that he wants to save the man's soul, not put him in prison. With the assistance of his friend Lady Warren, Father Brown sets a trap for Flambeau, but Brown realizes that his work is only just beginning. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

An open and shut case of Guinness! Up to his EARS in chaos...Up to his NECK in laughs See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

1 November 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Detective See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The parable about the woman and the onion Fr. Brown relates to Flambeau is from "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dosteovsky (1821-1881). See more »

Goofs

Father Brown and Inspector Valentine walk up a tidal river bank at low tide, yet during their conversation, between shots, the tide comes in completely. See more »

Quotes

Father Brown: I gambled the cross for the soul of Flambeau. I like to think St Augustine would agree with me.
See more »

Connections

Version of Father Brown, Detective (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mr. C. - Champion of Paradox
21 February 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

Gilbert Keith Chesterton has never been ignored or forgotten since his death in 1936. Yet his contemporary, Rudyard Kipling, was as controversial as he was and is better remembered and read to this day. I am not sure if the reason is that Chesterton's twin attractions, his love of paradox (almost to a questionable mania) and his vigorous championing of Catholicism are the reasons for this. He is, in the latter aspect, a strong predecessor of Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, but both of those writers seem to have more of a readership today. But then they didn't adopt paradox.

In his novel "Manalive" there is a moment when the appeal of his paradox reaches a point that is both understandable and questionable. The hero explains that the phrase "All that glitters is not gold" is false - all that glitters is gold. He starts pontificating on how many rarer elements (platinum?) exist that don't glitter as much, so that it is the attraction of the glitter of gold that makes it matter. One reads this discussion hoping that Chesterton is pulling our leg (a hope I still have, but it is very faint). The point of the phrase is that there are more valuable things in the universe than wealth producing items like gold - things like kindness, generosity, love. If Mr. C. was fooling us, I congratulate him on the still hit-on-the-head blow of the paradox. But if he meant it I really pity him.

I leave it to his fans to explain it to me (if they wish). "The Detective" is one of the few movies based on Chesterton's huge output. It is based on the first story of his tales of the Roman Catholic priest and detective, Father Brown: "The Blue Cross". The story is a good one (the first of the first series of "Father Brown" tales), and introduces us to Flambeau, the master thief that Brown eventually saves. But for it to be done properly (not the way the movie quite does it) several of the stories have to be put together. The first three stories of the series deal with Brown, Flambeau, and the head of the Paris police. The last commits a murder in the second story, and commits suicide before Brown exposes him. So much for a guardian of the law. Flambeau is stopped by Brown reasoning with him that he is not a bad man but a man who is on the verge of becoming one if he lets an innocent man take the blame for a theft he committed. Flambeau does repent, and subsequently becomes a detective (and an assistant to Brown).

This is a film which could have been reduced in length. Parts of the movie are quite amusing (the scene of Ernst Theisinger and Guiness breaking each other's eyeglasses is cute). The acting is also good (especially Guiness and Peter Finch as Flambeau). But the moments that move the viewer (and approach Chesterton's Catholicism) are when Guiness gives parables to explain behavior and human weakness. Witness his tale of the bad woman who fails to get pulled out of hell.

I wish the film was not so dull in so many spots, but it is definitely worth a look.


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