Hollywood in Toto

‘Pray’ Recalls Unlikely Bond Between Faith, Hollywood

Imagine the capital A-listers of right this moment gathering for a easy, faith-based function — a reminder to wish early and sometimes.

Or, as Father Patrick Peyton famously stated, “The household that prays collectively, stays collectively.”

“Pray: The Story of Patrick Peyton” recollects the outstanding life and profession of a priest who leveraged popular culture in addition to a sure actual property mogul turned President. Father Peyton’s story deserves a biopic on the very least. For now, Christians and curiosity seekers alike will rally round this slick, unabashedly sentimental ode to one of many 20th century’s extra intriguing figures.

Young Peyton grew up in a big Irish household, however he hardly appeared like priest materials. The teen Peyton had a mood, we’re informed, together with visions of secular wealth when he left his place of birth for America.

A close to deadly bout of tuberculosis, and a restoration he credited to sturdy prayer, modified the course of his life. He devoted himself to sharing the glories of prayer with the world, utilizing each means at his disposal to take action.

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That meant weaponizing his avuncular attraction, resonant voice and knack for not taking “no” for a solution. The latter got here in useful when he knocked on Hollywood’s door.

And, shockingly, among the largest stars of the period answered.

Before lengthy Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and extra have been spreading Father Peyton’s prayerful message. Just think about the response if Brad Pitt, Katy Perry or Meryl Streep used their celeb clout to encourage prayer right this moment.

The sizzling takes can be legendary … and scathing.

Father Peyton made it occur. It was a unique time, after all, however his persuasive mien made it potential.

YouTube Video


Faith-based films are maturing earlier than our cultural eyes. Gone are the tiny manufacturing budgets and amateurish turns. The similar, apparently, is proving true within the documentary area. “Pray” isn’t effervescent over with razzle dazzle results, however the quiet, persuasive visuals deserve our consideration. 

Director Jonathan Cipiti (“The Dating Project”) finds intelligent methods to form grainy movie clips and lengthy speeches alike. The tone is reverential, and unabashedly faith-friendly, however the method swimsuit the subject material.

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What’s much less interesting is the driving drive behind the documentary. Family Theater Productions, which Father Peyton himself based, produced the movie. Kudos to the decades-old firm for its handiwork, however a celebration separate from Father Peyton’s legacy ought to have been thought-about, on the very least.

“Pray” frames Father Peyton’s life from essentially the most constructive angles potential, nevertheless it nonetheless captures the struggles he confronted alongside the way in which. His message bumped into sizable headwinds within the 1970s because the tradition took a cynical, secular flip. His try to go Hollywood through a significant movement image, director Roberto Rossellini’s “The Messiah,” show a uncommon popular culture misstep that by no means bought a stateside launch.

Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., requested households to wish the Rosary – a message he took to Hollywood and world wide. Follow his journey in PRAY: THE STORY OF PATRICK PEYTON, in theaters Oct. 9 …

— Family Theater Prods (@FamilyTheater1) September 16, 2020

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To its credit score, “Pray” acknowledges how Father Peyton accepted cash from the C.I.A. to battle Communism abroad. The movie blames the error on naivete, however Father Peyton’s anti-Communist sensibilities might have performed a starring function.

Still, the movie’s unearthed nuggets show fascinating, together with how Father Peyton’s “Rosary Rallies” drew a half million individuals in San Francisco, of all locations.

Nothing is as sudden as seeing a younger James Dean performing in a Family Theater Production earlier than his star’s Hollywood ascent.

Equally efficient are the interstitials that includes modern-day {couples}, together with former Kansas City Royals standout Mike Sweeney, sharing how household prayer within the Father Peyton mildew saved their marriages.

HiT or Miss: “Pray” is aimed squarely at Christian audiences, however its good-looking manufacturing values, streamlined storytelling and charming topic make it price a search for secular crowds, too.

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