Facility Spring Cleaning BDD_MSW16 Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Sixx AM Fire TV with 4k Ultra HD Subscribe & Save Made in Italy Amazon Gift Card Offer out2 out2 out2  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Fire, Only $39.99 Kindle Paperwhite AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl ReadyRide Bikes from Diamondback May4th

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars58
Format: DVD|Change
Price:$19.98+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

What better movie for a priest to review than 'Mass Appeal'? Directed by Glenn Jackson, and co-starring veteran actors Jack Lemmon and Charles Durning with relative newcomer Zeljko Ivanek, this story has influenced me in interesting ways.
Lemmon plays Father Farley, a jaded, settled Roman Catholic rector of a prominent parish, ultimately dis-satisfied with his lot in life but terrified nonetheless of losing it. Into this comfortable world steps an upstart seminarian Dolson (played by Ivanek), who has more principle than tact, and more passion than people skills.
The rector and the seminarian end up being placed together in a mentoring situation by the seminary dean, Mons. Burke (Durning), an autocratic moralist with strict rules on priestly formation. Various issues resound in the relationships of each of these characters with each other, the seminary, the congregation, and ultimately with their own destinies. Farley's issues with past abuse, Dolson's life on the wild side prior to seminary, and Burke's paranoia all enter the interplay of church politics and the discernment of a spiritual calling.
Farley is both irritated by and inspired by the seminarian. The seminarian takes a stand for honesty which costs him his appointment. The dean refuses to listen to anyone, including his friend Farley, and begins to question Farley's integrity as a priest as well.
Farley learns that it is never to late to hear a call, and that what he thought was his call in fact was a facade. Dolson finally realises that the in-your-face approach to public relations is not very pastoral, but his listening skills far exceed those around him, and he becomes trusted by Farley. Alas, the dean--what becomes of him? We never know.
Where God leads is a difficult question, with no easy answers, and we can spend much of our time following our version of that vocation without really ever touching the substance of it (as did Father Farley). We can be so overzealous for it that we might burn it out before it comes into being, rather like a forced hot-house flower that blooms prematurely and then dies too soon (similar to Dolson's experience).
This is an interesting film which brings up issues of polity, morality, reconciliation and redemption, themes that are far more prevalent in life than we would ordinarily think. This movie may not have mass appeal but can be enjoyed and, perhaps, give insight to all viewers, be they Roman Catholic, other denominations of Christian, of other religions, or even no religion at all.
11 comment|51 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, Jack Lemmon--what do they have in common? All played priests, but no one more convincingly than Lemmon in this story about a popular, "bourgeois," crowd-pleasing conservative priest who is suddenly challenged by a young liberal seminarian representing honesty, forthrightness, and social change. The "message" primarily concerns the old dog, popular priest learning to change his ways, while the radical young seminarian also absorbs lessons about the real world and dealing with people. But forget about the story and its themes. As a movie, "Mass Appeal" is 3 stars; as a script 4; as a vehicle for one of the screen's most colorful, personable, irresistibly charismatic actors, it's 5 all the way. Here's proof positive: though the story calls for Lemmon to play the part of the rather "bad" guy--someone who lies and schmoozes and sugar-coats the Gospel in order to fill the offering plates each Sunday--it's his character and not the seminarian's who rivets our attention, maintains our interest, and inhabits our memories long after the film is over. The truth-telling, liberal, activist seminarian, on the other hand, is little more than a "generic" character cast from a late 1960s mold. The point is that neither of the parts is especially distinguished on the basis of the writing alone; rather, it's Lemmon's unique ability to give a "face" to his role that makes both his character as well as the film work.
0Comment|24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 7, 2008
In "Mass Appeal," Jack Lemmon gives one of the most thoughtful, thorough performances of his acting career. Given wonderful, wide-ranging support by young and spirited Zjelko Ivanec, the inimitable Charles Durning, and the underrated Louise Latham, his portrayal of a Catholic priest who has to face the failures of his own life to save the priesthood of another human being who happens to be gay is truly magnificent! "Mass Appeal" is one not-to-be-missed film. I only hope that it is restored to circulation soon.
0Comment|23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 14, 2003
This is one of the finest films I've ever seen. As a seminarian myself, I am convinced this film should be required viewing for all seminarians, priests, and all formators in the pre-seminary and seminary systems. Jack Lemmon and Zeljko Ivanek give poweful performances as Father Tim Farley and Deacon Mark Dolson; Lemmon's character is a wildly popular but complacent parish priest. Ivanek, in the role of a newly ordained transitional deacon, plays the idealistic and brash seminarian who conflicts with Fr. Farley's "song and dance" theology. As the two interact, a friendship is forged and the aging priest rediscovers his priestly vocation from the prodding of the young deacon. Ultimately, Fr. Farley finds himself in the position of defending young Dolson against the homophobic attack of the seminary rector.
While the theology of this film is not 100% sound, the overall theme is absolutely solid and gives you a lot of truth to think about. Whether it be Deacon Dolson's sordid past or the laziness of Father Farley's priestly ministry, the issues addressed are poignant and powerful. You simply must see this film!
11 comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
What better movie for a priest to review than 'Mass Appeal'? Directed by Glenn Jackson, and co-starring veteran actors Jack Lemmon and Charles Durning with relative newcomer Zeljko Ivanek, this story has influenced me in interesting ways.

Lemmon plays Father Farley, a jaded, settled Roman Catholic rector of a prominent parish, ultimately dis-satisfied with his lot in life but terrified nonetheless of losing it. Into this comfortable world steps an upstart seminarian Dolson (played by Ivanek), who has more principle than tact, and more passion than people skills.

The rector and the seminarian end up being placed together in a mentoring situation by the seminary dean, Mons. Burke (Durning), an autocratic moralist with strict rules on priestly formation. Various issues resound in the relationships of each of these characters with each other, the seminary, the congregation, and ultimately with their own destinies. Farley's issues with past abuse, Dolson's life on the wild side prior to seminary, and Burke's paranoia all enter the interplay of church politics and the discernment of a spiritual calling.

Farley is both irritated by and inspired by the seminarian. The seminarian takes a stand for honesty which costs him his appointment. The dean refuses to listen to anyone, including his friend Farley, and begins to question Farley's integrity as a priest as well.

Farley learns that it is never to late to hear a call, and that what he thought was his call in fact was a facade. Dolson finally realises that the in-your-face approach to public relations is not very pastoral, but his listening skills far exceed those around him, and he becomes trusted by Farley. Alas, the dean--what becomes of him? We never know.

Where God leads is a difficult question, with no easy answers, and we can spend much of our time following our version of that vocation without really ever touching the substance of it (as did Father Farley). We can be so overzealous for it that we might burn it out before it comes into being, rather like a forced hot-house flower that blooms prematurely and then dies too soon (similar to Dolson's experience).

This is an interesting film which brings up issues of polity, morality, reconciliation and redemption, themes that are far more prevalent in life than we would ordinarily think. This movie may not have mass appeal but can be enjoyed and, perhaps, give insight to all viewers, be they Roman Catholic, other denominations of Christian, of other religions, or even no religion at all.

The DVD has yet to be officially released in North America; until then, these occasionally available foreign editions will have to do, unless one will get the VHS (but the film is worth it in any format).
11 comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 14, 2015
This is a wonderful movie I first saw when it came out. It is not available in Netflix and I finally broke down to buy it. It was everything I remembered, a wonderful and genuine discussion of a priest's real life in America. Only a Catholic, perhaps, perhaps not, can truly appreciate it. Lemmon plays a priest who is popular because he caters to the bourgeois needs of his parishioners. When he is forced to consider another purpose as priest all hell breaks loose. It is even more relevant today than when it first came out. The Catholic church (and all Christian churches) are even more bereft of meaning and purpose than they were decades ago. A priest like that portrayed by Lemmon and a would-be priest played by Ivanek are what the church needs now. Perhaps Pope Francis is like them, but not too many priest I have met. Perhaps we need more priests like the Whiskey Priest in THE POWER AND THE GLORY and more Catholics like Sebastian Flyte in BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.

A friend once said Mass is always the same, why go. Well, a Mass is like a Greek tragedy; you don't go to find out what happens; you know Jesus will be killed by evil Romans and their Jewish collaborators. But the experience, as in a Greek tragedy, is or could be cathartic. Mass doesn't depend on a good priest; in fact, many Catholics tune the priest out during his homily. Protestants who have only bad music and bad sermons are in a sorry state here. But a really good priest could be a godsend, if God would only find one to send who is humane, compassionate, truly loving, and for me especially one having had a decent education, both secular and religious. Catholic seminaries are awful places to get an education; priests are rarely as well educated as their parishoners. Centuries ago, perhaps not that long ago, when all Catholics, even in America, were basically peasants priests WERE BETTER EDUCATED than their flock. But now that Catholics have college degrees like everyone else the priest often seem at a loss, a total loss. If we only had priests like Jack Lemmon!
11 comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 8, 2013
This is one of my all time favorite movies. The two main characters are believable, and what's great is that both of them experience personal growth during the movie. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what happens to Mark Dolson because both men have matured, and they're going to be okay, no matter what the future holds. I love stories set in a religious world (Isaac Bashevis Singer is one of my favorite authors). I write Mormon stories myself, and I realized if I had written something like this based on Mormonism, I'd be declared an anti-Mormon. But the film is clearly not anti-Catholic. Both the heroes and the villains are Catholic. It's simply a realistic depiction of life in the Catholic world, and the heroes are certainly the stronger characters. I'm grateful the movie is finally available again after so many years.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 25, 2016
I have to believe that many priests are confronted with the same choice that Father Farley (played so well by the great Jack Lemmon): to offer the people a mild and easily accepted Gospel, which insures that he will be beloved in the parish; or to preach a more difficult sermon, one that challenges the people to really examine their lives and their commitment to Christ, as the risk of being a pariah. It cannot be an easy choice and one feels compassion for both Father Farley, who has chosen the former, and Deacon Mark Dolson, a young seminarian, who continues to pursue the latter course.

What is beautiful about this movie is the fact that both Farley and Dolson learn from one another, are inspired by one another, and each calls the other to be his best self. In a time when priests often are subjects of scorn and ridicule, are the butt of jokes and attacks, this movie celebrates the priesthood by showing a young man, hoping to be a priest and an older priest, both trying to do their very best to serve God and His Church.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
MASS APPEAL (1984, 102 minutes, Prod. Joan Kroc) is one of those 1980s flicks that got some box, some attention, then vanished. I recall at the time it came out how hated it was, and misunderstood. Jack Lemmon is powerfully Oscar-worthy as any era could want in the role of Father Tim Farley, a popular and slightly wino priest at the posh parish of St. Francis. He wheels and he deals, trying to keep the people happy (heavens, are they rich AND SPOILED). Thanks to an evil, vindictive monsignor played by the delightfully wicked Charles Durning, Fr. Farley gets stuck doing parish training with an emotional, progressive seminarian named Mark Dolan (another beautiful performance by a very young Zeljko Ivanek).

This is a gorgeous, powerful and truly hilarious film, the best in the 1980s dramedy genre, and one of the finest Catholic-themed films of all time. As Fr. Farley and Deacon Mark fight, they become like father and son--something they both need. In the event you feel lost, a deacon seminarian is a person who has only one year of training left to go before being ordained a priest. It is an important and informative time in the education of priests, and lots of people have complained about the training of priests ever since Antonio Rosmini got on Pius IX for his lousy-run church.

I am thrilled inside somehow, seeing the complacent, comfortable priests, the huge church, the rich people, the near proximity of the seminary. This is from my personal experience, but if it can have that impact on me, you will love it. This is an atmosphere that I could actually smell and taste--few films have such an effect on me. While the film is really somewhat predictable since it is about redemption in the face of innocence, it is also especially ahead of its time and has inspired a zillion newer films.

Charles Durning was a nice surprise here, considering he had played a priest similar to Fr. Farley in The Rosary Murders [VHS]. Though set in New York, it is a lush and beautiful neighborhood setting, and the performances are stunning. If I had any complaint it was the entire tone of young Deacon Dolson. A progressive, loudmouth bisexual seminarian like him would never have been allowed to remain at that type of seminary. A parish like Fr. Farley had, well, they'd have boiled Deacon Dolson in oil! Again, I can speak from experience. Yet Dolson only wants a more accessible, loving church. He won't ever get it by screaming at everyone, but he manages to teach Fr. Farley what it means to be a good priest instead of a noncommittal drunk.

You must get this film. I actually waited nearly 31 years to finally see it, as to be more neutral about anything too heavy; my wait was in vain because everyone is so wonderful, the story a clean, believable story, and my only other gripe is the anemic ending which ought to have been full fireworks instead of a lone Mark Dolan wandering down the street. I get the symbolism, but why end it with incongruous, limp symbolism at all?

Get this film. Its historic value alone is well worth it and it will make you think.

FUN NOTE: this is the only film dedicated to Ray Kroc, the late owner of McDonald's. This is because his widow, Joan Kroc, produced it! So one more feather in McDonald's cap! Also a piece of trivia: Eric Roberts turned down the role of Mark Dolan. Jack Lemmon, however, was simply reprising his role from the stage play (Mass Appeal). Don't confuse the playwrite, Bill C. Davis, for the eponymous Canadian actor who played "The Cigarette Man" on "The X-files" series.

Since I noted a colleague reviewer asked what became of the seminary dean, played by Durning: the title of monsignor is a silly little honorific for fat-headed priests, awarded by even fatter-headed bishops. In the ultimate confrontation here, reminiscent for me of the equally stunning Doubt, Fr. Farley tells the monsignor rightly that it is Farley's parish--not the monsignor's. He tells the monsignor that a proper authority is the chain of command to be followed. That sets the monsignor back on his heels, upon which Fr. Farley puts him out of the rectory. It is all part of the rehabilitation of Farley, who has been cowed by this fat monsignor for decades without a word of protest.

So that is what became of the ding-dong sanctimonious monsignor--and I knew one exactly like him who was the diocese's director of vocations. So I can tell you, this type is hovering around more often than not!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 22, 2013
I was expecting more, but I still like this. I can see now how this could fall into being out of print. This deals with honesty in the pulpit vs being liked. There are some blatant scenes and you end up feeling bad for some of the younger priests getting kicked out over allegations.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.