New Movies: Pope Opera

"It is the test of a good religion," G. K. Chesterton once said, "whether you can make a joke about it." Judging by The Shoes of the Fisherman, Roman Catholicism is an excellent faith indeed. This saccharine Pope opera is sober-faced and straitlaced, but it would be hard to imagine a parochial-school sixth-grader taking it seriously.

Where Morris L. West's bestseller merely strained credulity, the movie shatters it beyond repair. In Siberia, a political prisoner has been pardoned by Russia's Premier (Laurence Olivier) after 20 years in a slave-labor camp. The freed...

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