The wrong title, the wrong script, and the right actors couldn't help this bathetic tearjerker. It was the ninth and final duet for Garson and Pidgeon and the only picture they made which did not open at New York's prestigious Radio City. Set in Canada, SCANDAL AT SCOURIE tells the story
of little Corcoran, a Catholic orphan who inadvertently starts a fire that destroys her Quebec orphanage. The children are now homeless and must be placed, so the nuns take them across the country on a train, dropping kids off at good homes. They arrive at the Protestant town of Scourie, where
Corcoran meets Garson, wife of one of the town's leading political lights and owner of the department store. Garson has no children and would like to adopt the cute tyke, but Pidgeon is against it because the child is of a different faith. The nuns also think it's a bad idea, but Garson assures
them that Corcoran will be raised a Catholic, with no attempt to convert her to Protestantism. With that assurance, Corcoran is placed in the Garson-Pidgeon home. Pidgeon intends to run for office, and his rival, newspaperman Ober, decides to turn the situation against Pidgeon. Ober writes that
Pidgeon's only reason for adopting this child was to garner the Catholic vote in the election on the horizon. Soon after, while Ober is in the local barber shop, Garson walks in and whacks him with a wet towel; Pidgeon, while speaking at a political convention, has to use force to quell some
hecklers. Since Ober's words are believed by the townspeople, Pidgeon is looked upon with scorn. He is advised to return Corcoran to the nuns if he wants any sort of office in the town. All of this serves to get Pidgeon's dander up, and he absolutely refuses to think of giving up this little girl
he's come to love. There's a fire at the school, and when Corcoran's past history is uncovered, the townspeople assume she started it. Pidgeon is livid at the accusations, resigns his office, and quits his high position in the local church. Corcoran feels that she has ruined the lives of Garson
and Pidgeon and decides to run away and allow them to regain their stature in the town. The rain pours down as Garson, Pidgeon, and a few of the villagers, who have since learned that Corcoran is innocent of the arson charge, begin to search the countryside for her. She is finally found, cold,
wet, but unharmed. At the finale, the local people realize the folly of their ways and endorse Pidgeon and Garson for their pluck and faith in the little girl.
Movies about religious intolerance and racial problems had been coming out with regularity since Dore Schary did CROSSFIRE in 1947. This was a mild attempt at showing the schism between Protestantism and Catholicism and it never gathered enough steam to make a dent in the public's sensibilities.
The film is beautifully photographed by Planck. Moorehead does a cameo as a nun at the beginning of the film, then disappears, and Arthur Shields plays a priest again. There is a bit of comedy, but not as much as there should have been, which is odd when one considers the three screenwriters, all
of whom are noted for their wit and erudition, little of which came through in this film.
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