Magdalene

  • 1990
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Romance

In this sluggish historical romance, former "General Hospital" star Steve Bond plays a selfless priest who not only finds time to be tempted by laundress/slut Nastassja Kinski but also manages to pen the lyrics to the Christmas hymn "Silent Night." All is not well in Germany. Rogues wander the roads, terrorizing wayfarers; Catholic Church officials keep...read more

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In this sluggish historical romance, former "General Hospital" star Steve Bond plays a selfless priest who not only finds time to be tempted by laundress/slut Nastassja Kinski but also manages to pen the lyrics to the Christmas hymn "Silent Night." All is not well in Germany. Rogues wander

the roads, terrorizing wayfarers; Catholic Church officials keep a stranglehold on local politics and land values. Into this maelstrom of intrigue and religious hypocrisy comes Father Mohr (Bond). While the emperor is busy repressing a radical student movement, the Church is making crooked deals

with swinish politicians like von Seidl (David Warner), who fears Father Mohr's incorruptible presence. Immediately, the new priest makes waves by mingling with the riff-raff at the local tavern and catching the eye of Magdalene (Kinski), a barmaid who (we later learn) has been sexually abused by

von Seidl since childhood. While the prelate and the tavern wench grapple with their mutual attraction, (1) the bandit Janza (Franco Nero) pursues both his reluctant fiancee, Magdalene, and a life of crime, (2) von Seidl and the Prior (Gunter Meisner) discuss plans to eliminate Mohr, (3) von Seidl

meets secretly with Magdalene and tries to force her to sign a confession falsely accusing Father Mohr of being her lover. During a struggle, von Seidl stabs Magdalene accidentally, but she is rescued by Janza and nursed back to health by the priest. Although Magdalene starts a new unsullied life

as a laundress, the Prior tries to entangle her in his evil web and even attempts her abduction. Redeemed by their impossible love, Magdalene and Father Mohr are reunited, but nothing carnal transpires between them, except in his dreams. In the meantime, none of the Church power-brokers take

notice of the Prior's insinuations, and Janza is wounded but escapes from soldiers and confesses his life of crime. Reassigned to another parish, Father Mohr takes time out from his soul-searching and his busy schedule of saving the souls of bandits and barmaids and writes "Silent Night" with town

musician Franz Gruber. With a hit song added to his resume, the priest's religious stock rises; suddenly he finds it easier to remain celibate and love Magdalene platonically. God has won his heart.

Playing fast and loose with several historical events (all of which are reduced to the level of background for a Harlequin romance), MAGDALENE is a tepid love story that emits no heat and evinces no passion. What can you say about a movie whose hunky leading man, best-known as a beefcake poster

boy, is clothed up to his adam's apple in priestly garb throughout. It's like casting Steve Reeves as Truman Capote or Jayne Mansfield as Maria von Trapp. What we are left with is a clammy sex tease about a priest who doesn't succumb to the temptation of the flesh. Since all the

historical-political details are handled in mediocre fashion, our attention continually returns to the stalled central romance. Had the conniving of the church officials and the political upheaval been better handled, this might have added up to a more interesting movie. Fashioned like a cut-rate

mini-series, MAGDALENE never evokes a sense of the period or location. We know it's supposed to be taking place in the Europe of long ago, but the cast members could be portraying members of a modern folk dance group who've been stranded at a cultural festival in 1990. Nothing about MAGDALENE is

convincing except for Kinski, who brings surprising radiance and conviction to a standard fallen woman role; she should be getting the parts that are going to her clone, Isabella Rossellini. Although Mayne and Quayle comport themselves with dignity, bad guys Warner and Meisner seem to have studied

the fine art of hammy menace at an acting seminar held by Donald Pleasence and Jack Palance. Worse yet is the stiff Bond, whose idea of holiness is to stare straight ahead without blinking. Watching Bond piously spurn Kinski, viewers will yearn for "The Thornbirds." You will end up so bored with

unrequited love that you will want Magdalene to slip the priest a Mickey Finn and get it over with. If you are a sucker for historical fiction, you may find some enjoyment in this period piece, but true romantics will feel short-changed. Despite Kinski's allure, MAGDALENE creates no sexual sparks.

If this movie is to be believed, writing a hit song like "Silent Night" must be more fulfilling than a mad affair with a voluptuous barmaid. (Violence, adult situations.)

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  • Released: 1990
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: In this sluggish historical romance, former "General Hospital" star Steve Bond plays a selfless priest who not only finds time to be tempted by laundress/slut Nastassja Kinski but also manages to pen the lyrics to the Christmas hymn "Silent Night." All is… (more)

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