The Pledge of the Legion of Decency
+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.
And any movie that has cute, inept or lazy nuns.I added that last part.
I don't watch many movies. Once in a while I get roped into something, but I never seek out a film on my own. I still miss the Legion of Decency, which slowly faded into oblivion. I suppose if it were around today, people would laugh in the face of the Legion of Decency. Sadly, when it was around, it always seemed to me that a thumbs down from the Legion guaranteed a hit, because of the curiosity factor. (It's the same reason I would sometimes like to tell William Donahue to shut up, if I was so rude as to tell people to shut up. Perhaps we will merely request that he pipe down lest he slowly fade into oblivion. Anyhow I fear for his life, as his red-faced hysterics may cause him to have a stroke.)
In the Colosseum a thumbs down actually meant a thumb's up. A thumbs down from the crowd meant the gladiator was to put his sword in the ground. A thumbs up meant ram the sword into the loser. Maybe that's what went wrong with the Legion of Decency.
I've been thinking about this because the last couple of days I referenced two 'nun' movies. Both horrible disappointments. I think all of the nun movies have disappointed me for one of two reasons. Either they are wretched depictions of religious life, like Mary Tyler Moore in "A Change of Habit", or the nuns just aren't up to snuff, like "A Nun's Story" or that inept bunch that has to have a Vegas show girl save them in "Sister Act". Disappointing.
Wait! there is a third reason. I'll come back to that.
In "A Change of Habit" beautiful perky Mary Tyler Moore plays a nun who works in the ghetto.
(I've never seen a movie about a nun who works in a fancy neighborhood full of McMansions and people who send their children to astronaut camp in the summer as some of our parishioners have. They always work in the Congo or the slums or the soup kitchen or something. Good for them. We wouldn't want William Donahue to complain.) Sister Mary works feverishly in the ghetto .....to get the bishop to let the nuns there drop their habits and blend in with the folks. Hence the title of the film. When the bishop reluctantly grants her request she only manages to blend in with handsome Doctor Elvis and his swingin' guitar. They play football. I am absolutely certain that this is a near occasion of sin.
As bad as all of this sounds the worst part is actually the end of the film in which Sister Mary Tyler Moore must choose between the convent and Elvis. She does this during Mass!!!! as her eyes furtively shift from Jesus to Elvis and back..shifty shifting forth and back and forth. I hope the Jesus statue is one of those kind that looks at you wherever you go. Her choice is left in question.
But let's face it, she loves her eye makeup and capri pants too much for us to hope she skipped a chance at marrying a doctor. A swingin' guitar doctor who plays football and works in the ghetto.
At least Audrey Hepburn gave it the old college try in "A Nun's Story". The valiant nuns she works with in the Congo are kind brave souls. I can't remember why Audrey quits exactly, except that she can't get her brain around obedience. Ever. Compared to her cohorts in the Congo she is just too waif-like and lazy. So long Sister Audrey!
I'll never get over that crowd of Goofenheimers in "Sister Act". If you ever find out I've been rescued from my stupidity by a Vegas show girl, please remind me to follow Sister Audrey out the door. I'll put on big giant fake eyelashes and my capri pants when I go.
And then there is "Sister Act II". Are there a whole new crowd of Goofenheimers? Or did the first crowd fall apart after they had no pretend nun to show them the way?
Which brings me to reason three. Once again, the 'cuteness' factor. Spare me.
I did love Deborah Kerr in "Heaven Knows Mr. Allison".