The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
Cast & Crew
On 13 May 1917, in the Cova Da Iria, near the mountain village of Fatima, Portugal, a vision of a beautiful Lady appears to three shepherd children, Lucia Dos Santos and her younger cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Appearing above a tree, the Lady asks the children to return to the cova on the thirteenth day of each month for the next six months. Upon returning to the village, the children describe their encounter to Hugo DaSilva, an educated, agnostic peddler and friend, who counsels them to keep silent about it for their own protection. However, Jacinta tells her parents, Manuel and Olimpia Marto, who believe the story and tell Lucia's parents, Antonio and Maria Rosa Dos Santos. Fearing repercussions from the police, Maria Rosa accuses Lucia of playing tricks on her little cousins, and later tells the story to the village priest, Father Ferreira, who suggests it is a manifestation of girlish hysteria that should be ignored. By the middle of the following month, word has spread about the vision of the Lady, and pilgrims trek to the cova, but Maria Rosa forbids Lucia to go. Instead, she is taken to a village celebration, where the crowd taunts her until the village administrator, Arturo, arrives with the police. Having heard reports of religious sightings, which are punishable by law in the current police state, he questions the villagers and demands to be shown Lucia, but Hugo sneaks her away. After Lucia convinces Hugo to take her to the cova, a cloud appears and moves to the same place above the tree, but when the Lady appears, only the three children see her. She tells them that Jesus wants her to be known, and predicts that although Lucia will remain on earth to carry out her mission, Jacinta and Francisco will soon return to heaven. Then the crowd witnesses the cloud move from the tree and disappear. Later, Hugo is arrested for obstructing a police investigation and the village church is closed. Ferreira, who now no longer doubts that the children saw something, is still not certain that the vision is good, as only evil has come from it so far, but he tells Arturo that closing the church only sanctions the visions. Arturo counters that if no crowd appears at the cova the following month, the church will be reopened. On the day of the next expected appearance, the crowd is even larger than before. The police arrest Ferreira as he pleads to the pilgrims to return home, but the crowd prevents them from taking the children. The Lady appears, again only to the children, and says that they will suffer for the conversion of sinners. She predicts that the world will be punished by a second big war and tells of an evil scheme in Russia. Before departing, she promises to give a sign for the unbelievers in October. Afterward, when the newspapers denounce the actions of the police, Ferreira is released, but on the thirteenth of the following month, the police abduct the children. At the province's police station, the children are bribed, harassed and threatened to deny their vision, but they do not relent. The magistrate tries to trick them into implicating Ferreira or admitting that the visions are a money-making scheme fabricated by Antonio, who owns the land of the cova. When the children remain true, they are jailed with adult criminals, where Hugo is being held. While believers hold a vigil outside the jail, the children recite the Rosary until the magistrate releases them along with Hugo. Then the bishop arrives and tries to shame Lucia into discrediting her story, but Maria Rosa and Antonio comfort her by saying that they believe. On a rainy 13th of October, the families escort the children to the cova, where thousands of pilgrims wait for the vision, who calls herself the Lady of the Rosary. She appears and predicts that the current war will soon end and God will triumph. For the restless crowd, she presents the promised miracle: the sun appears to fall to the earth and when it returns to the heavens, the earth is dry, in spite of the heavy rain, and many of the sick and injured are healed. On that day, many skeptics, including Hugo, become believers. Thirty-four years later, thousands of people again pay homage to the lady at a basilica which has been built on the site of the cova. Inside the basilica, visiting the graves of Francisco and Jacinta, is Hugo with the nun Lucia. She tells him that if the people will pray, God will send peace.
Pilar Del Rey
Norma Jean Nilsson
Bonnie Kay Eddy
Robert "buddy" Shaw
Amapola Del Vando
G. W. Berntsen
Francis J. Scheid
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared a Holy Year, and the faithful made pilgrimages to sites sacred to Catholics, such as St. Peter's in Italy, Lourdes, France (the site of another apparition of the Virgin Mary, which was also the subject of a Hollywood film), and Fatima, which received over a million pilgrims. To capitalize on the attention surrounding Fatima, Warner Bros. decided to make a film about the visions of 1917.
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) presents its story effectively and reverently, but it is also steeped in cold war ideology. The Portuguese government is portrayed as socialist, and while the government was secular and anti-clerical, its leaders were not specifically socialist or communist. The Virgin's second secret, which predicts World War II and the rise of Russia, was not made public until 1940, when both predictions had come true. By the time the film was made, Russia's power was a worldwide threat, and the final part of the prophecy--that Russia would be converted--was no doubt a comfort to devout moviegoers.
German émigré John Brahm may have seemed an unlikely director for such a film. He is best known for two moody, atmospheric films about psychopathic killers, The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945), and a minor but impressive film noir, The Locket (1946). In The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, he draws very good performances from the three child actors in the leading roles. Twelve-year old Susan Whitney, who plays the highly-emotional part of Lucia, had the least acting experience. She had made her film debut in an unbilled role in the 1951 Doris Day film, On Moonlight Bay, and had appeared in one other film that same year. Ten-year old Sherry Jackson made her film debut in 1949, and was already the veteran of more than two dozen films and television programs. Thirteen-year old Sammy Ogg, whose small stature allowed him to play younger than his real age, was the most experienced. He had begun his career in radio in 1945, and among his roles was Little Beaver in the Red Ryder radio serial in 1950-51. (Robert Blake played the role in the movie serial.) The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima was his first credited substantial screen role.
The biggest name in the cast is top-billed Gilbert Roland, who plays a jovial peddler, a non-believer who nevertheless supports the children. Second-billed New York stage actress Angela Clarke, who plays the mother of Lucia, contributed several additional voice performances in the film. She provided the voices for the Virgin Mary (whose face is not seen clearly), as well as Lucia as an adult, although Susan Whitney, in aging makeup, is her physical incarnation. Clarke also contributed at least one crowd voice. Veteran Warner Bros. composer Max Steiner was nominated for an Oscar® for his Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima score, heavy on heavenly choirs, but lost to Dimitri Tiomkin's score for High Noon.
Of the three child actors in The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, Sherry Jackson had the longest and most successful career. In 1953, she played John Wayne's daughter in Trouble Along the Way, and began a five-year stint on the popular television series, Make Room for Daddy, playing comedian Danny Thomas's daughter. Over the next three decades, she guest-starred in a wide variety of television series, TV movies, and an occasional feature film. Jackson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Sammy Ogg worked steadily throughout the 1950s, playing supporting roles in several films, and appearing in many television series. He is best known for his role in the Mickey Mouse Club "Spin and Marty" serials, (1955-56). In the late 1950s, Ogg enrolled in an evangelical college and later became a minister. Susan Whitney worked sporadically throughout the 1950s, mostly in episodic television. Her last known big screen appearance was an uncredited bit part in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959).
The real-life Jacinta and Francisco died in the worldwide flu epidemic after World War I, Francisco in 1919 at age ten, and Jacinta in 1920 at age nine. Lucia became a nun, and died at age 97 in 2005. All three are now buried in the basilica of Fatima. As for the third secret of Fatima, which the Lady had asked the children not to reveal, Lucia wrote it down and the sealed envelope was given to the Vatican. In 2000, church officials announced that the secret was a prediction about the persecution of Christians in the 20th century, and that part of it could be interpreted as predicting the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981. Conspiracy theories still abound surrounding the secret, and question whether all has been revealed.
Director: John Brahm
Producer: Bryan Foy
Screenplay: Crane Wilbur, James O'Hanlon
Cinematography: Edwin DuPar
Editor: Thomas Reilly
Costume Design: Marjorie Best
Art Direction: Edward Carrere
Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Gilbert Roland (Hugo da Silva), Angela Clarke (Maria Rosa dos Santos), Frank Silvera (Arturo, Administrator of the Province), Jay Novello (Antonio dos Santos), Richard Hale (Father Ferreira), Norman Rice (Manuel Marto), Frances Morris (Olimpia Marto), Carl Millitaire (Magistrate), Susan Whitney (Lucia dos Santos), Sherry Jackson (Jacinta Marto), Sammy Ogg (Francisco Marto)
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
TCM Remembers - Jack Kruschen
Jack Kruschen (1922-2002)
He may have not been a household name, yet his career consisted of over seventy-five films, spanned over six decades, and displayed a strong versatility in playing either dramatic or comic roles with equal effectiveness. He was the definitive, "I can't quite remember the name, but I remember the face" character player who enlivened many films with his robust frame, cherubic face and infectious smile. His name was Jack Kruschen, a superb performer who died on April 2, 2002 at the age of 80, leaving behind a strong body of work that was impressive as any character actor of his generation.
Kruschen was born on March 20, 1922 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The son of a watchmaker who later set up shop in Hollywood, he was performing in an operetta at Hollywood high school when a talent scout for CBS radio discovered him. Kruschen was soon doing voice characterizations on popular network programs such as Dragnet, The Danny Thomas Show and Sam Spade. With his gift for dialects (he was most adept at playing ethnic types like Greeks, Yiddish or Italians - a skill finely honed in his radio days), Kruschen was a natural for the movies and soon made his film debut with a small role in the Betty Hutton comedy Red, Hot and Blue (1949).
Kruschen's early career is peppered with a variety of roles like a comical gangster in both Abbott & Costello Go to Mars (1953) and Money from Home (1953) starring Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin; a hard-nosed police detective in Confidence Girl (1952) and Julie (1956), an underrated Doris Day thriller; or doomed victims to alien prey in Sci-fi cult classics: the 1953 version of War of the Worlds (fans remember him as Salvatore, one of the first earthlings to be killed by the invading Martians) and The Angry Red Planet (1959). The roles offered steady work, but not much critical recognition. All that changed when Billy Wilder cast him in the key role as Jack Lemmon's bemused but caring neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss in The Apartment (1960). As the man who observes the steady stream of women in and out of Lemmon's apartment and the one who saves Shirley MacLaine from a drug overdose, Kruschen offered a wonderful performance - viewing his neighbor's proceedings with a jaundiced eye, yet never letting his disdain overtake his humor and humanity. He was justly rewarded with an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
From this point on, Kruschen was seldom out of work, appearing in over 40 films (including a terrific dramatic turn in the original Cape Fear (1962) as Dave Grafton, a corrupt southern bigot) and nearly 60 guest roles on television for the next two decades. Kruschen would later find fame toward the end of his career when he was cast as Papa Papadapolis in the hit sitcom Webster (1985-1987) and would show pleasant variations of the "kindly old codger" throughout the remainder of his career - like his final role in the romantic comedy 'Til There Was You (1997). His death in April this year may have gone largely unnoticed by the movie-going public, but for those of us who treasure the art of the character player, Kruschen's passing was a loss that is fortunately compensated by his strong body of work that will be enjoyed for fans of the late show for many years to come.
By Michael T. Toole
SIGNE HASSO, 1910-2002
Actress Signe Hasso died June 7th at the age of 91. She was best-known for starring in A Double Life (1947) but played numerous Europeans in films during the 1940s. Hasso was born on August 15, 1910 in Stockholm, Sweden and began acting on stage at the age of 13. Ten years later made her first film appearance as Signe Larsson. She was married in 1936 and adopted the last name of her husband, cinematographer and later director Harry Hasso. After a dozen Swedish films, Hasso moved to Hollywood in 1940 where her first screen appearance was an uncredited role in Journey for Margaret (1942). A brief stint at RKO didn't lead to any more promising film parts so Hasso concentrated on her stage career in New York City. Eventually, her film career became more active, thanks to a quick succession of roles, most notably in Fred Zinnemann's The Seventh Cross (1944), Douglas Sirk's A Scandal in Paris (1946) and Henry Hathaway's The House on 92nd Street (1945). However it was her portrayal of Ronald Colman's wife in the Oscar-favorite A Double Life that solidified her fame. But as Hasso continued to act on the stage and TV, her film work began to taper off. She appeared in high-profile thrillers like Crisis (1950), several made-for-TV movies, a few European productions and even the cult murder mystery, Bert Gordon's Picture Mommy Dead (1966). In 1972, the king of Sweden decorated Hasso for her work. Her final appearance was in a 2001 documentary about Greta Garbo.
HERMAN COHEN, 1927-2002
One of the key producers of B-movies, Herman Cohen, died June 2nd at the age of 76. Like most producers, his name wasn't generally known outside the industry or the realms of film buffs but most people never forget the titles of his films: I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) and the not-quite-immortal Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952). Cohen was a Detroit native, born August 27, 1927. He entered the film business in the smallest possible way, as a 12-year-old janitor, often accepting passes for his family and friends instead of wages. Cohen served in the Marine Corps (several articles incorrectly say the Army) before becoming a publicist at Columbia Pictures. By 1951 he was working as a producer's assistant on low-budget independent films, mostly for Realart Pictures run by another Detroit native Jack Broder. Soon Cohen was producing his own movies, including Westerns and mysteries, until hitting big with the famous I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Starring a then-unknown Michael Landon (under personal contract to Cohen who later tore it up so Landon could appear in Bonanza), the film was made for $100,000 but in just a few months grossed over $2 million. Cohen didn't hestitate to turn out I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and Blood of Dracula by Thanksgiving of that same year and before long had made several films that continued to earn money for years to come. (One TCM writer remembers Horrors of the Black Museum turning up in a small Alabama town in the early 70s, over a decade after its initial release. The film is scheduled for a DVD release with a Cohen commentary from VCI Entertainment.) Cohen also made several films in England including The Headless Ghost (1959) and the cult favorite Konga (1961) where Cohen even paid RKO $25,000 for the rights to use the title King Kong in publicity for his own film. Cohen's later movies included a spaghetti Western and Joan Crawford's final acting role Trog (1970). In the 1980s Cohen ran a company, Cobra Media, that distributed some films and licensed material such as Teenage Werewolf to Landon for use in one of his Highway to Heaven episodes.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Jack Kruschen
Rather than letting Susan Whitney speak her own lines in the final scene,in which she appears with old-age makeup as the elderly Lucia, the filmmakers dubbed in the very recognizable voice of the anonymous actress who plays the Virgin Mary.
'Angela Clarke' herself was the voice of the Blessed Virgin - she just pitches her voice a bit lower and speaks very slowly. Clarke also did one of the crowd voices in the "Let us see the children!" scene, as did Jay Novello.
The title was changed to The Miracle of Fatima to fit on marquees, according to an undated Daily Variety news item found in the production files at the AMPAS Library. After the opening credits, a montage with voice-over narration describes how a socialist minority proclaimed a "Peoples' Republic," which sought to destroy the power of the Church through the uprising of a police state in Portugal. The first name of actress Frances Morris was mistakenly spelled "Francis" in the onscreen credits. Actress Nanette Fabares, who played "Florinda" in the film, subsequently changed her name to Nanette Fabray. According to a February 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, radio actor Steve Roberts was cast, under a different name, but that name has not been determined. Juvenile actress Susan Whitney portrayed "Lucia" both as a child and as a forty-year-old nun.
The true story of the events at Fatima began in 1916 when a nine-year-old Portuguese girl, Lucia Dos Santos, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Martos, aged eight and six respectively, reported seeing a vision of a male angel who called himself "the Angel of Peace." According to the children, the angel, who appeared to them while they tended their parents' sheep, appeared again a year later. When he vanished, the form of a beautiful Lady appeared, who promised to appear at the same time each month until October. During her appearances, the Lady reportedly predicted the deaths of Francisco and Jacinta, the end of World War I and the subjugation of religion in Russia. In July 1917, the children related that the Lady told them what is now called the "Secret" or the "Three Secrets," as it consisted of three parts; the secrets were not disclosed to the public for many years.
As depicted in the film, the children were kidnapped and held for two days in August 1917 by civil authorities, who threatened and interrogated them. The Lady then appeared to the children on 19 August and promised a great miracle in October. The miracle on October 13, 1917 was witnessed by thousands of pilgrims who described how the sun seemed to fall from the sky twice and bathe the area in colored lights, healing many of the sick and disabled, and leaving the earth dry, in spite of an earlier rain. Witnesses included a skeptical Lisbon journalist, whose reports in O Seculo, changed from mocking to astonishment after the event. By 1920, both Marto children had died, and later, Lucia became a Carmelite nun.
In 1941, Lucia wrote memoirs in which two of the three parts of the "Secret" were revealed. The first part was a vision of hell and a plea to pray and sacrifice to save souls. The second part prophesied the beginning of World War II and called for the consecration of Russia. The last part, which Lucia later wrote down and which had been kept in a sealed envelope by Pope Pius XII, was to be unveiled in 1960. Pope John XXIII read it in 1960, resealed it and, although every successive pope read it, according to a December 1999 Los Angeles Times article, it remained secret from the public. Although many followers speculated that the third part was a prediction of either a major spiritual crisis in the Catholic Church or, as the twentieth century came to a close, of an apocalypse, the Los Angeles Times article reported that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who read the secret, claimed that no apocalyptic events were predicted. At that time, Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the Bishops Conference held in Washington, D.C, announced that Pope John Paul II had no plans to release the "Secret."
According to a May 2000 Los Angeles Times article, John Paul finally unveiled the remaining secret, announcing that it was a "prophetic vision" of Christian suffering and martyrdom in the twentieth century and that among the many events the "Secret" foretold was a May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on his life, which occurred exactly sixty-four years after the first reported sighting of the Lady on what became the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. Some followers were skeptical, however, as many of the predictions of the "Secret" have been revealed only after the events occurred. As of 2003, Francisco and Jacinta had been beatified, the first pre-adolescent candidates who did not die as martyrs. Lucia, a cloistered Carmelite nun in Portugal, was not eligible for beatification at that time, as it is only bestowed on the dead. She died on February 13, 2005 at the age of 97.
Two fictitious characters in The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, "Ferreira" and "DaSilva" May have been named to honor Bishop DaSilva, the Bishop of Leiria/Fatima, who ordered Lucia to write down the third part of the "Secret," and Bishop Ferreira, Archbishop of Gurza, whom Lucia entrusted with the sealed envelope containing the "Secret." According to a January 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was rushed into production after two foreign-made pictures on the same subject were exhibited in the U.S. According to several contemporary sources, much of the film was shot in Portugal, and the Variety review reported that footage was used of the October 13, 1951 Fatima celebration, when Fatima was the site of the solemn closing of the Holy Year. In a Hollywood Reporter news item, Bryan Foy stated that the cost of the film was $1,400,000, and the same source states that this was the first film to use the WarnerColor process. However, two films, The Lion and the Horse and Carson City, began production using WarnerColor in mid-1951, several months prior to The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, and were the first two WarnerColor films to be released.
According to a November 1952 Variety news item, the Allied Independent Theatre Owners of Iowa and Nebraska complained that the high terms demanded by Warner Bros. made it impossible for members to show the film, claims which Warner Bros. denied. Max Steiner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture for this film, but lost to Dimitri Tiomkin for High Noon. According to a July 1952 Los Angeles Daily News news item, the film won a special award from the Los Angeles Electrical Engineers Association for its unusual lighting effects. It also received the National Screen Council's Blue Ribbon Award for October 1952, according to a November 1952 Box Office article. In a December 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was announced as the outstanding picture of the year by the national Catholic monthly, The Sign, and a September 1952 Motion Picture Herald news item reported that it won the Christopher Award. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima marked the film debut of fifteen-year-old Albert Walters. Susan Whitney, Sammy Ogg and Jay Novello reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast called The Miracle of Fatima on March 30, 1953. J. Carrol Naish played "Hugo" and Jeanette Nolan played "Rosa Maria." Several films have been made in Portugal about the vision at Fatima, including the 1951 La Señora de Fátima, directed by Rafael Gil.