The Runner Stumbles

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  • PG
  • 1979
  • 6.1  (355)

The Runner Stumbles is a drama film released in 1979, directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Dick Van Dyke, Kathleen Quinlan, and Maureen Stapleton. Based on the play written by Milan Stitt, the movie tells a story of a young nun accused of murder in a small town in Michigan in 1911. Father Rivard (Dick Van Dyke) is a passionate priest who has been assigned to a small parish in the town. He soon meets Sister Rita (Kathleen Quinlan), a young novice who was sent to the town to assist in the church. Father Rivard begins to take an interest in Sister Rita, and rumor starts to spread that they are having an affair.

One night, Sister Rita is found in the church sacristy, cradling the body of a young parishioner who has been murdered. The authorities accuse her of the murder, and Father Rivard takes on her defense. The trial becomes a media sensation, with the small town torn between support for Sister Rita and condemnation of her alleged crime. The prosecutor (Maureen Stapleton) is determined to win the case, and Father Rivard must draw on all his strength to defend Sister Rita and prove her innocence.

The Runner Stumbles is a poignant exploration of faith, love, and the human condition. As the trial unfolds, the characters are forced to confront the truth about themselves and their beliefs. Father Rivard, who is struggling with his own doubts and guilt, finds himself drawn to Sister Rita, who represents for him the purity and devotion that he himself yearns for. Sister Rita, for her part, must confront the reality of the world outside the convent, and come to terms with her own desires and fears.

The performances in The Runner Stumbles are uniformly excellent. Dick Van Dyke delivers a powerful and nuanced portrayal of a man grappling with his beliefs and his emotions. Kathleen Quinlan is equally impressive as the innocent and vulnerable Sister Rita, who finds herself at the center of a whirlwind of suspicion and gossip. Maureen Stapleton is brilliantly cast as the unyielding prosecutor, whose determination to win the case borders on obsession.

The film's cinematography is also worthy of note, with scenes of the rolling countryside and the small town streets evoking a strong sense of time and place. The overall effect is one of intense authenticity, as though the viewer is being transported back to early 20th century Michigan.

At its core, The Runner Stumbles is a movie about the power of belief, and the difficulties that arise when faith is tested by the harsh realities of life. It is a character-driven drama that takes an unflinching look at some of the deepest questions facing humanity. While the film has its moments of darkness and despair, it ultimately delivers a message of hope and redemption.

In conclusion, The Runner Stumbles is a must-see for fans of thought-provoking dramas that are rich in character and atmosphere. With its outstanding cast, stunning cinematography, and resonant themes, this film is a true gem of 1970s cinema.

The Runner Stumbles
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  • IMDB Rating
    6.1  (355)