"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The administrator of London's Westminster Cathedral, Msgr Mark Langham, keeps a remarkable blog that's well worth a visit. His posting of some striking photos taken from the campanile after a recent snowfall prompted this exchange in the comments section:
st columba said...
Recently, on TV, I saw a 1940 movie by Alfred Hitchcock--"Foreign Correspondant". It was not the best of movies, but one scene has the villain (played oddly by Edmund Gwenn who always is portrayed as a kindly man) attempting to push the hero of the story off the top of the campanile of the Cathedral. The villain erred, and he, not the good guy, went flying off the tower.
Before they ascend the campanile, we can hear a Requiem Mass being chanted inside the Cathedral (which we are not allowed to see.)
Hitchcock, I believe was Catholic--educated by the Jesuits.
Hitchcock was indeed a Catholic, and the Film you mention gives a fascinating glimpse of the Cathedral in the '40s. The entrance they use is now closed off by the Gift Shop, and several Daughters of Charity (in their distinctive 'butterfly wing' headdress) pass by. The Campanile viewing platform is open to the sky, allowing the villain to be thrown off. Nowadays, there are bars securely in place, although someone did squeeze through a few years ago and threatened to jump. Mercifully, the Police managed to talk the person down.
Turner Classic Movies, which has been airing Foreign Correspondent, offers a clip of the scene in which chummy assassin Edmund Gwenn (later famed as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street) tries to push Joel McCrea from the tower. The scene gives me the willies.
Gwenn's "plummy turn as an evil assassin" is hailed by IMDB commenters who describe him as "affable and borderline-snarky in his menace" and "the most cherubic and cheerful hit man you've ever seen."
As it happens, the fall from the Westminster Cathedral campanile is the second longest fatal drop in a Hitchcock film, according to this Hitchcock travel guide:
NO HEAD FOR HEIGHTS? DON'T LOOK DOWN...
Hitch seemed to have a phobia about falling - many of his films feature a climactic tumble from a high tower or monument. Here's the top five, in order of altitude:
1 Mount Rushmore (5,725ft): Adam Williams and Martin Landau are the victims, while poor undercover agent Eva Marie Saint hangs by her fingertips. (North By Northwest)
2 Westminster Cathedral (273ft): Edmund Gwenn tumbles over the railings from the campanile. (Foreign Correspondent, 1940)
3 The Statue of Liberty (151ft): Norman Lloyd plunges to his death from the flaming torch, despite the hero, Robert Cummings, trying to grab hold of him. (Saboteur, 1942)
4 The British Museum (106ft): Donald Calthrop plunges through the domed roof of the Reading Room. (Blackmail, 1929)
5 Mission San Juan Bautista (estimated 75ft): Kim Novak falls from the bell-tower. (Vertigo)