|Dick Van Dyke and Kathleen Quinlan|
THE RUNNER STUMBLES (1979). Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. Based on the play by Milan Stitt.
In a small town in the 1920's the brash, young, full-of-life Sister Rita (Kathleen Quinlan of Event Horizon) arrives and meets the somewhat dour Father Rivard (Dick Van Dyke of Bye Bye Birdie) -- who has been banished to the hinterlands because of some of his more controversial views -- the housekeeper Mrs. Shandig (Maureen Stapleton); two grumpy and dyspeptic older nuns; and the children Sister Rita will teach, including mischievous little James (Billy Jayne). Town tongues start to wag when an obvious friendship and closeness develops between the priest and the nun, and even the housekeeper seems a bit scandalized when Sister Rita moves into the rectory with the father after the other nuns develop consumption -- this is against the orders of the Monsignor (Ray Bolger). As romantic feelings between the pair begin to blossom, one knows things will not go well for these star-crossed lovers ... The Runner Stumbles begins with Rivard in jail, arrested for murdering Rita!
|Maureen Stapleton and Van Dyke|
|Kathleen Quinlan and Tammy Grimes|
Verdict: This tragic love story is imperfect, perhaps, but it is also altogether admirable.***1/2.