Martin Luther (May 8, 1953)

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A Shot in the Dark
 

Released on May 8, 1953: The story of Martin Luther and his 95 controversial ideas about the salvation of man and the personality of God that made him a hunted criminal sentenced to death.

Directed by Irving Pichel

The Actors: Niall MacGinnis (Martin Luthur), John Ruddock (Vicar von Staupitz), Pierre Lefevre (Spalatin), Guy Verney (Melanchthorr), Alastair Hunter (Carlstadt), David Horne (Duke Frederick), Fred Johnson (Prior), Philip Leaver (Pope Leo X), Heinz Piper (Doctor Eck), Leonard White (emissary), Egon Strohm (Cardinal Alexander), Annette Carell (Katherine von Bora), Alexander Gauge (Tetzel), Henry Oscar (unknown), Irving Pichel (Brueck), Ronald Adam (unknown), Joss Ambler (unknown), William Abney (unknown), Michael Maick (unknown), Wolfgang Oelze (unknown), Hans Lefebre (Charles V), John Wiggin (narrator), Jaspar von Oertzen (knight)

 

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Salvation by Suffering and Silver

I remember a joke from my youth about two Catholics who went to confession and each confessed the same sin. They were both given the same advice to cleanse them from their sin - they must do penance ordered by the church . . . in this case they were told that they must walk ten miles with a dozen beans in each shoe. The men took their walk together, and before long one man was complaining that the hard beans in his shoes were causing his feet to hurt terribly, and soon open bloody sores appeared on the bottoms of his feet. The other man was walking pleasantly along apparently feeling no pain. As the journey continued the first man was hobbling along slowly, barely able to keep up with the other man who was still walking at a brisk pace. Finally the man who was suffering greatly because of the hard beans in his shoes asked the other man how he could walk to briskly and seemingly without pain. The other man smiled and replied, "We were told to walk with a dozen beans in each shoe . . . I merely cooked my beans before I put them in my shoe so that they were squishy soft." I always remembered that joke with a smile, and always tried to think outside the box for opportunities in every crisis that others might not see. My papa was a preacher . . . a 'holy roller' preacher who spoke in tongues and taught his flock that Roman Catholics could surely not enter Heaven because of a host of beliefs that he felt were not supported by scripture. Unfortunately, or fortunately, as you will, he taught me to question and measure every belief against my interpretation of 'truth' . . . much like priest Martin Luther did as he studied the scriptures. When he was part of the Holy Roman Catholic Church the focus was on becoming saintly by suffering and by paying the church in exchange for an 'indulgence' - forgiveness for sins committed. If you had lots of money you could purchase forgiveness for many sins . . . if you were not so wealthy you could only be forgiven of small sins. When I left home one the eve of my 18th birthday my plan was to become a preacher like dad, but after three years of study and observing the masters who taught me I discovered that preaching my father's denominational teachings . . . alas . . . preaching any denomination's doctrines was not what would give me joy and peace. What followed was a lifetime of searching for a focus, for a passion that would not be satisfied until my current journey. I have walked a good distance away from organized religion, and I was not looking forward to viewing and reviewing this movie about Martin Luther, the father of Protestant churches, but boy-oh-boy was I wrong. I was soon fascinated with the life of this man who thumbed his nose with respect at the only Christian church in Europe 500 years ago. I ask you also with respect . . . no matter how interesting or boring you feel this story might be . . . give it ten or fifteen minutes and see if the thoughts and words don't ring one way or the other and entice you to enjoy the story of a rebel with a death sentence on his head who changed the world with his rebellious thoughts. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.

Alastair Hunter and Niall MacGinnis
Alastair Hunter and Niall MacGinnis
Annette Carell
Annette Carell
Heinz Piper
Heinz Piper
Niall MacGinnis
Niall MacGinnis
Pierre Lefevre greets Niall MacGinnis
Pierre Lefevre greets Niall MacGinnis
Pierre Lefevre
Pierre Lefevre