The Runner Stumbles
The Runner Stumbles is a dramatic film that was written by Milan Stitt and produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. The movie features Dick Van Dyke, Maureen Stapleton, Kathleen Quinlan, Tammy Grimes, Ray Bolger and Beau Bridges. The story follows Father Brian Rivard (played by Dick Van Dyke) who has been banished to a parish in the backwoods. After two older nuns get tuberculosis, the younger Sister Rita (played by Kathleen Quinlan) is sent to teach in the country school. To avoid being exposed to TB, Sister Rita moves into the priest's area. Father Brian and Sister Rita are working in very close quarters and sharing a living space. Sister Rita inspires Father Brian to become more engaged and enthusiastic about life. They share an intellectual curiosity from which they form inevitable bonds. Because of this, they become very close. Soon, they cannot deny their attraction for each other. Father Brian is also obsessed about God’s injustice which the Webers, a nearby farm family shares with him. Sister Rita has what are considered controversial and very progressive teaching methods. Rather than issue corporal punishment as the older nuns did, Sister Rita relied upon a more adult strategy of teaching accountability without violence. The town's gossips make their lives very difficult. Also, there is a very disapproving old housekeeper, Mrs. Shandig (played by Maureen Stapleton) who is also in love with the priest herself. Both Father Brian and Sister Rita spend a great deal of time talking about the moral issues surrounding their involvement. Things come to a head as the deck is stacked against Father Brian and Sister Rita. A lie is told that causes a great deal of stress for both of them, based upon a kiss that the to shared. After the lie is told, Father Brian’s attack of guilt over the lie is very difficult for him to deal with.