Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

A priest-meets-girl movie

Cleveland Press September 26, 1970

"It's this celibacy thing, I suppose," says the Bishop (Will Geer) as the young priest (Robert Forster) asks to leave the Church.

Forster denies that it is but in "Pieces of Dreams," a movie about a priest who falls in love and decides to drop out, celibacy is obviously the thing in spite of attempts to bring out other factors.

The film is based on William E. Barrett's novel "The Wine and the Music." The screen play, however, is a surface treatment of both the story and the problem.

While "Pieces of Dreams" does not exploit the dilemma faced by many priests of the Catholic Church, neither does it probe it very deeply.

The result is a rather sudsy romance which is more sentimental than spiritual.

FORSTER AS the troubled priest and Lauren Hutton as the lithe, lanky divorcee to whom he is attracted give good performances within the limited range of the characterizations. Roger Hirson's screenplay tends toward the simplistic and Daniel Heller's direction is sluggish.

Forster portrays a priest who is troubled by his superior's concern over the worn-out surplices of the altar boys while showing little concern over the poor Mexican-Americans who live on the edge of the parish and who are described as "those people."

He is troubled too over his own doubts about church teachings, over a feeling that there is a lack of social commitment. But this troubled feeling is presented as one that the priest has learned to live with, that the problems are such that he will -- in his own small way -- come to grips with them.

THE ATTRACTION to the woman however is sudden and complete; first a night in her apartment, later a vacation together.

There is a strong suggestion in a scene with his doting and egocentric mother that he should never have become a priest. There also is an unnecessary melodramatic bit in a Kansas bar with a prostitute and her pimps.

Closer to soap opera (and shampoo commercials) is the couple's wandering through an idyllic nature setting while Peggy Lee's voice on the soundtrack intones the title tune which keeps repeating a lyric about ". . . little boy lost."

"Pieces of Dreams" can be praised for its performances and its general restraint in dealing with a subject that might have been ripe for sensationalism in less careful hands.

But the inherent drama in the situation called for more than the usual boy-meets-girl development.