A Man Called Peter
|A Man Called Peter|
|Directed by||Henry Koster|
|Produced by||Samuel G. Engel|
|Written by||Eleanore Griffin (screenplay)|
|Based on||A Man Called Peter
by Catherine Marshall
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Edited by||Robert L. Simpson|
|Box office||$4.5 million (US rentals)|
A Man Called Peter is a 1955 American drama film directed by Henry Koster and starring Richard Todd. The film is based on the life of preacher Peter Marshall, who served as Chaplain of the United States Senate and pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC before his early death. It is adapted from the 1951 biography of the same name, written by his widow Catherine Marshall.
As a boy growing up in Coatbridge Scotland, Peter Marshall loves the Sea and wishes to work on a ship. Several years later, he is caught in a fog and is nearly falls over a ledge. The feeling that prevents him from going over the ledge also tells him to dedicate his life to the ministry. He begins working double-shifts to save enough money to go to school in America. He gets to America and again works very hard to save enough to pay for divinity school. Upon graduation he is called to serve as Pastor at a rural church in Covington, Georgia.
His sermons are well-received and soon people are coming from all over the area to attend services at the church. Catherine Wood from nearby Agnes Scott College falls in love with him the first time she hears him speak.
Catherine impresses Peter by helping him at an event for college students where she gives an extemporaneous speech using quotes from some of his sermons. They begin spending time together. They marry. Their honeymoon is spent on an ocean voyage and fishing trip. Catherine gets seasick on the voyage and refuses to get into a fishing boat.
They return from their honeymoon to Washington, D.C. Peter has accepted a position as Pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church Services are sparsely attended at the church but Peter invites people from all walks of life to attend and soon services are overflowing.
Peter’s son, Peter John, is born the morning of December 7, 1941. That morning, Peter preaches at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. He is inspired to change his planned sermon to a sermon about death and eternal life. He describes death and going to sleep in one room and waking up the next morning in the room where you belong.
Catherine contracts tuberculosis and is bed-ridden. Catherine listens to Peter’s sermon about a woman healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ robes. When Peter returns home, Catherine has left her bed and walked down the stairs of her home for the first time in three years.
Peter and Catherine buy a vacation home in Cape Cod. Peter takes his son fishing but Catherine refuses to go on the water.
When they return, Peter is stricken ill while preaching and is rushed to the hospital. He has suffered a coronary thrombosis. He is ordered to rest. After a short time of rest, he returns to preaching and accepts an appointment as Chaplain of the United States Senate. One night, Peter wakes Catherine telling her that he is in pain. She calls an ambulance. As they are taking him away, she asks to come along. He tells her she must stay with their son. He tells her he will see her in the morning. Later, the hospital calls to let her know he has died. That summer, she takes her son to the cottage at Cape Cod. He wants to go out on the boat. She realizes he can’t go alone and she gets in the boat with him.
- Richard Todd as The Reverend Peter Marshall
- Jean Peters as Catherine Wood Marshall
- Marjorie Rambeau as Miss Laura Fowler
- Jill Esmond as Mrs. Findlay
- Les Tremayne as Senator Willis K. Harvey
- Robert Burton as Mr. Peyton
- Gladys Hurlbut as Mrs. Peyton
- Richard Garrick as Colonel Evanston Whiting
- Gloria Gordon as Barbara
- Billy Chapin as Peter John Marshall
- Ricky Kelman (uncredited)
Richard Burton was originally meant to play the lead.
The film premiered simultaneously in Glasgow, Scotland; London, England and New York City. A parade to the theater featured members of the Scottish War Veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion, nurses from the Caledonian Hospital and a seventy-man color guard. Author Catherine Marshall attended the premiere as did several prominent religious leaders of New York City including the Reverend Phillips P. Elliott, president of the Protestant Council of New York City; Dr. Franklin Clark Fry, president of the United Lutheran Church in America and the Right Reverend Charles F. Boynton, Suffragan Bishop of New York Cathedral.
- Solomon 1989, p. 249.
- Solomon 1989, p. 226.
- "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955", Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
- Looking at Hollywood: Richard Burton Will Star in Film, 'A Man Called Peter' Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 05 Dec 1953: 14.
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989), Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press.
- Brode, Douglas (1988), Lost Films of the Fifties, Citadel Press.