The Runner Stumbles
The Runner Stumbles (1979)

This melodrama is based on an actual event from the late 1920s. The tragic tale of Father Rivard -- a priest accused of killing the nun he fell in love with -- takes place in three time frames. He is seen in jail, with his lover, and on… More

Rated: PG
Running Time:
Genre: Drama
DVD Release Date: December 13, 1990
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Critic Score: 44% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Variety Staff

Throughout, the film is paced by fine performances, especially Van Dyke as Father Rivard, Quinlan as Sister Rita and Maureen Stapleton as Van Dyke's housekeeper.

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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times

In its relentlessly old-fashioned way, The Runner Stumbles has a sort of dramatic persistence: It's not great, but it's there.

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Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Spirituality and Practice

The Runner Stumbles is an exceptionally fine film about the exigencies of a religious calling and a critique of the legalism within Christianity.

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Time Out

Deadly earnestness over Van Dyke's tortured celibacy becomes risible long before the Perry Mason conclusion and a final scene of indescribable bathos.

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Phil Hall
Film Snobbery

A compelling and memorable drama, via Stanley Kramer.

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Janet Maslin
New York Times

Mr. Van Dyke's performance, though extremely sympathetic, is hard to assess. He worries and suffers, but the film finds nothing vital in his ordeal.

TV Guide

The main problem with the film is that inherent to most play adaptations: it's too talky and static, with most of the responsibility for story development left to explanatory dialog.

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