The Rosary Murders Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 16, 2007
A little dated, but a watchable film, however if you're looking for gore, there's none to see
June 11, 2012
I was expecting a good thriller but
March 21, 2012
This movie is based on a novel in a series featuring Father Robert Koesler, a Catholic priest who investigates crimes. William X. Kienzle, the author, was himself an ex-priest, and co-wrote the script with Elmore Leonard, another big name in crime fiction, so I was expecting a good movie. But the plot has so many holes and loose ends that I got confused, and then just bored.

Here are a few examples.

An important plot element is the rule that a priest is not allowed to reveal what he is told in the confessional. But in this movie, that rule seems to be ignored when it is inconvenient.

A serial killer is bumping off priests and nuns. Father Koesler hears a man's confession, and realizes from what the man says that he is the killer. Koesler expects to be his next victim, but after the man makes his confession, he just leaves.

Why does the man kill the other priests, but not Koesler? Why did he confess to Koesler, and not to another priest?

The killer didn't reveal his identity to Koesler, but the things he did say enable Koesler to track him down.

Although Koesler tracks him down based on things the killer told him in the confessional, Koesler learns the killer's name and address through his own detective work. Why doesn't Koesler therefore give the killer's name and address to the police?

Koesler enters the killer's house and goes from room to room. He opens a door and comes face to face with the killer. Nothing happens. As in the confessional, the killer just leaves.

The killer now knows that Koesler knows his name and address. He also knows that Kessler knows what he looks like. But still he doesn't kill Koesler. Why does he kill other priests, but not Koesler? Why did he confess to Koesler, and not another priest?

Finally Koesler discovers how the killer chooses his victims. He associates their names with the Ten Commandments. For example, Sister Honora is associated with the commandment 'Honor thy father and thy mother', and Father Steele with 'Thou shalt not steal'. Some people may find this explanation clever. I find it silly. Puns are the lowest form of humor, and these puns are pretty bad, but they're not a motive for murder.

The victims are priests and nuns because the killer blames the church for his daughter's death. He forced her into an incestuous relationship, and when she told her priest and asked him for help, he refused to believe her, so she committed suicide.

Of course it is the girl's father, not the priest, who is responsible for her death. Supposedly he is in denial, and refuses to admit his own guilt. I find this explanation not only absurd, but offensive when so many priests are sexually abusing children and gettingb away with it.

This still leaves unanswered the question of why the killer chose to make his confession to Father Koesler, and why he didn't kill Father Koesler.

Aside from Koesler and the killer, there are two other major characters in this movie: Koesler's superior, Father Nabors, and a woman newspaper reporter. Neither of them are directly involved in Koesler's investigation. They are incidental, if not irrelevant. I assume they play important parts in other novels in the Father Koesler series, but not in The Rosary Murders.

The loose ends left dangling in The Rosary Murders are probably tied up in other books of the Father Koesler series, but this movie has too many of them to stand alone.
May 3, 2011
With her father...

A priest is put in a compromising situation when a murder confesses that he has been killing priests and nurses because they are responsible for the death of his daughter. How could the church be responsible for the death of a child? The priest will do some digging on the murders and how they are tied into the deceased little girl.

"The neighborhood is not very safe."

Fred Walton, director of When a Stranger Calls (1979), April Fool's Day, Dead Air, The Courtyard, The Stepford Husbands, and Homewrecker, delivers The Rosary Murders. The storyline for this picture is very interesting with a couple fascinating twists and turns. The action sequences are well presented and the soundtrack fits the movie perfectly. The cast delivers solid performances and includes Donald Sutherland, Charles Durning, and Roger Angelini.

"She had completely changed."

I was reading a book that referenced an old movie with Donald Sutherland where he dies on the steps of a church. I thought this may be the film but I was incorrect. I'll keep searching. I did think this was a clever movie with some interesting sequences that made it worth watching. I recommend seeing this film if you're a fan of the genre (criminal dramas).

"You're saving souls not lives."

Grade: B
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