Tuesday, October 7, 2014

391. O Pagador de Promessas/Keeper of Promises (1962)

Running Time: 93 minutes
Directed By: Anselmo Duarte
Written By: Anselmo Duarte, from play by Alfredo Dias Gomes
Main Cast: Leonardo Villas, Gloria Menezes, Dionisio Azevedo, Norma Bengell, Geraldo Del Rey


It's Tuesday which means another day in my makeshift man cave while my wife does her own thing in the other room. So far today I've managed to tackle six episodes of The Simpsons and this movie, with hopes of doing another movie later. Let's get this review out of the way so I can make that goal.

The film opens with a man carrying a cross reminiscent of Jesus Christ, being followed by a woman whom we later learn is his wife. We learn that the man's name is Ze and that the reason he is carrying the cross has something to do with a promise he made to Saint Barbara. His destination: the church of Saint Barbara where he plans to carry the cross through the front door and fulfill his word. The whole promise thing came about when his donkey (also his best friend) fell ill and Ze's prayers weren't answered. He decided then to strike a deal with Saint Barbara, a deal that would see him carry a cross to her holy temple if only his donkey would recover. Soon after making the promise, the donkey makes a miraculous recovery and Ze decides to keep his promise. Once there, however, the priest of the church refuses to let Ze inside, stating that the deal he made was that of witchcraft and that Ze sees himself as a new Jesus Christ, which he won't condone. Ze refusing to leave the steps of the church until he is allowed entry, plants himself, while his wife is wooed by a Handsome stranger. Meanwhile the whole thing becomes a media circus, with different people preying on Ze, trying to benefit from the situation. A reporter sees his next big story, while a nearby restaurant owner sees the developing crowds as a business opportunity.


Let me start off by saying whoever wrote up the subtitles for the copy of this I was watching, really flubbed them up horribly. Obviously this person's first language wasn't English, as they struggled to get a grasp on just what forms of words to use. Anyway, I digress. I didn't like this one very much at all, as is usually the case with these rare films that I have to dig up somewhere on the internet. I try to give them a fair shake going in and this one started out decent I suppose, but ultimately just lost me altogether. When the movie started, it seemed like we were heading down the same path that Contempt did. A woman is lured away from her husband's side by Handsome, a local pimp, despite her objections, when her husband urges her to go and get a hotel room so that she can rest after the "7 league" journey. She seems angry that her husband would allow a handsome stranger to just take her away without much protest and goes with the man, almost out of defiance and of course, so she can soak her tired feet in hot water. Anyway, the film turns into a whole big statement on the endurance of faith and the greed of man.

I never really expected to like this, so it wasn't any shock that I didn't. I will say that the commentaries are kept to a minimum in favor of a somewhat pieced together plot about Ze trying to gain access into the church. I'll also say that there was something like three REALLY good shots toward the end of the film: the one with Ze lying next to his dropped cross on the steps, a group of onlookers surrounding him. Another of a few of the onlookers placing Ze on the cross and carrying him inside the church and the final shot, of Rosa ascending the church steps. All fantastic shots, almost too good for this movie. While I will not admit to liking this one, I will say that it's probably my own fault. As I've stated dozens of times, give me a good plot and good acting and I'll be fine. When you start to muddle everything up with sermons about faith and greed, it gets a little too heavy handed for my tastes. NEXT!

RATING: 3/10  That's probably a little harsh, but it seemed to fit, so...I'm not sure what I'll watch later, but I'll do my best to find something that sounds more appealing than this one.


October 7, 2014  4:12pm


  1. It's so enjoyable to follow your journey through the movies, man. I wish I had the will power to watch so many of them so fast. Anyhow, not looking forward to this one but who knows...

    1. Yeah, who knows. One man's trash is another man's treasure, so you may love it...

      Thanks for swinging in Mette....come back anytime!

  2. OK.. interesting.
    Not a big hit with me, but better than I expected. I was fearing another Robert Bresson type thing..Man of great faith.. dying donkey.. lots of gloomy poverty..
    Instead I felt we got a reasonable bit of social observation that criticizes the established church. Not the faith.. not Christianity as a belief.. but the priests etc with the power.
    As a 'non person of faith' I could not fully accept the premis of "I prayed for my donkey to get better, it did, therefore God / the saint did that". My emotional sympathy was for the wife who got dragged along on this pilgrimage .. but, a bit to my surprise, I couldn't write the guy off as a deluded person. Indoctrinated, exploited by 'THE Church'? Maybe... but I could see that - to him - he had made a promise.. and could easily see that.. well, a promise is a promise.. Even if I personally don't believe it was a valid contact, I can admire his.. honesty.. in fulfilling his side of the promise.
    I'm not sure if that made much sense..

    1. No it made sense. However, I had you down as hating this one, so glad to see that you got something more out of it than I did. I think I went in with my mind made up, which isn't fair....but honestly, I dont think I'd have liked it either way.


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