The Pope Must Die(t) (1991)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A priest discovers that being the leader of the Catholic Church can be hazardous to your health in this satiric comedy. Cardinal Rocco (Alex Rocco) and Monsignor Vitchie (Paul Bartel) are two high-ranking Vatican officials who have been using the church's business dealings to launder funds for Vittorio Corelli (Herbert Lom), a crime boss involved in illegal arms trading. After the death of the aging and infirm Pope, Rocco and Vitchie plan to nominate a successor who will go along with Corelli's schemes, but quite by accident, small town priest Giuseppe Albinizi (Robbie Coltrane) is named the new Pontiff. Albinizi is a reluctant spiritual leader who prefers cars, women, and rock & roll to church business, but when he discovers the level of Rocco's corruption, he has him removed from the Vatican. Rocco and Vitchie are not taking Albinizi's plans to clean up Vatican finances lying down, and they discover that the new Pope's has a not-so-little secret. Before he joined the priesthood, Albinizi fathered a son out of wedlock with Veronica Dante (Beverly D'Angelo); the boy grew up to be Joe Don Dante (Balthazar Getty), a rock star who's romancing Corelli's daughter. After complaints from Catholic groups in the U.S., the distributors of The Pope Must Die changed the title to The Pope Must Diet.
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Robbie Coltrane
as The Pope
Beverly D'Angelo
as Veronica Dante
Herbert Lom
as Corelli
Paul Bartel
as Fitchie
Alex Rocco
as Cardinal Rocco
Adrian Edmondson
as Father Rookie
William Hootkins
as Cardinal Verucci
Robert Stephens
as Carmelengo
Annette Crosbie
as Mother Superior
Bozidar Smiljanic
as Cardinal Spott
Khedija Sassi
as Luccia
Marc Smith
as US News Reporter
Niall Buggy
as BBC Reporter
Jeff Beck
as Postman
Branko Blace
as General
David Boyce
as Malvini
Mirella D'Angelo
as Chocolate Spaghetti Mom
Mark Caven
as Father Franco
Mladen Vasary
as 3rd Journalist
Campbell Morrison
as Big Security Guard
Matko Raguz
as Newspaper Vendor
Relja Basic
as Alberto
Ranko Zidaric
as Father Santini
Petar Buntic
as Motorcade Cop
Damir Saban
as Carlo Felici
Sreten Mokrovic
as Bank Manager's Assistant
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Critic Reviews for The Pope Must Die(t)

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (1)

Hardly funny, but very tasteless "comedy."

June 1, 2005

cutting out nutrition-free films like this one might be a good start

August 3, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Quote not available.

July 17, 2005

Quote not available.

March 18, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Quote not available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Austin Chronicle

Quote not available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Pope Must Die(t)


We British are good at offending people with our humour, the Monty Python team managed it perfectly in the past and over the same issue, religion. Ah religion, the bane of the human race and its history, just looking at what has happened since the dawn of time purely from people's beliefs in religion is depressing. Its of no real surprise that the writer and director of this controversial film was Peter Richardson, the creator of 'The Comic Strip' during the 80's, a band of alternative/anarchic comedians that revolutionised British television. Its also funny how this film is almost identical to the American movie 'King Ralph' in terms of plot. Both share the exact storyline and both were released in the same year, six months apart. Here, a simple priest in Italy (Robbie Coltrane) is mistakenly (a spelling mistake) promoted to the top job of Pope. Of course this comes as a shock to most, especially the mafia who were trying to get their own man on the throne so to speak. What follows is a predictable farce of a comedy as Pope Albinizi tries his best to fulfil his role as leader of the Catholic Church whilst avoiding assassination attempts from the mafia and looking into the Vatican's dodgy accounts. In 'King Ralph' virtually the same thing occurs accept Ralph gets his gig by being the last descendant in the Royal bloodline. One solid positive about this film is the casting and character performances, all are perfect. The main character of Albinizi is played by Robbie Coltrane, who was a part of The Comic Strip days but more of a cameo performer. Much like John Goodman in 'King Ralph' Coltrane offers laughs merely from his rather large proportions, the difference being Coltrane's razor sharp Scottish wit. Although the idea that Coltrane's priest being slightly rebellious, liking women, fast cars and rock and roll...but having a heart of gold, is corny and cliched, it does work. Coltrane has always had the look of a Teddy boy with his thick wavy black hair and the thought of greasy Scottish dandy in Brothel Creepers as Pope is enough to make anyone smile. Indeed Coltrane is very likeable here offering plenty of sweet mushy moments with kids, his old flame (Beverly D'Angelo) and the predictable attractive nun he meets. The only other members of The Comic Strip in the film were Ade Edmonson who plays a deaf secretary (yet coming off like his previous character incarnations) and Richardson himself who plays a priest in charge of security. Its funny how Richardson's priest actually comes across as (and looks like) an aged Clint Eastwood, him being a tough ex-security coordinator for rock bands, so not your typical priest. Other well performed characters would be the mafioso boss played Herbert Lom, an over protective father of his rebellious teenage daughter with a short temper. John Sessions and Steven O'Donnell pop up as a pair of bungling assassins for Lom's mafia boss, very much going down the route of 'The Pink Panther'. But the best character must be the sleazy Cardinal Rocco played by Alex Rocco. You want a stereotypical, loud mouthed, Italian-American, Nu Yawker type sleazeball? then who better than Rocco, I love how they use his real name to make it sound even more lowbrow. This guy is a Cardinal by name/rank only, he is the main reason the Vatican's account are all messed up, he gambles, he drinks, he womanises, he swears, he wears gaudy jewellery, all by taking full advantage of rank and role. He's basically like a low ranking mafioso bookie or a slimeball car salesman or maybe an 80's British yuppie wannabe type. I adored how he always wore those 80's aviator shades, had his shirts unbuttoned to show his chest and carried a mobile around (in the shape of a crucifix). Brilliant how he would stop or interrupt the Pope to take a call, flipping the speaker bit out, he really came across as a real Del Boy type, British folk will get me. The whole story is an easy dose of comedy with cliches and predictable twists and turns, no doubt about that. What I personally liked was the fact it was aimed at adults and it went for the jugular, the premise was very risky yet they still went ahead with it and didn't hold back. The film has balls and I think it works because of that. Combined with that the film also looks terrific! The locations were filmed in and around Yugoslavia but you'd never guess, it looked thoroughly like local Italian countryside to me. I especially liked the various costumes and sets on display, the Catholic attire was very authentic looking (probably not hard to achieve) from the bottom ranking local priests to the upper echelons of Vatican City (again Coltrane looked great in Pope garb). At the same time I must give big kudos to the sets and props. Painfully recreating various locations from within the Vatican including the Sistine Chapel and all being highly decorated with great detail. It really does look like they filmed within the Vatican, I think. Loved the quiet, peaceful, green and idyllic countryside where Albinizi is located at the start of the film, so beautiful. Upon release this film pretty much bombed, which is a shame and obviously down to its religious content. In America they pretty much tried to ignore and virtually ban the film, even changing its title to 'The Pope Must Die(t)', which made no sense. Even in the UK the film came up against backlash and pathetic whining about being offensive. Its a huge shame because this is a classic bit of black comedy from the UK, showcasing some great talents who really pile on the ham and revel in the dark, morbid, farcical, taboo humour. I only wish they had cast other UK talents from the Strip like Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle or Nigel Planner.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


well it will be a item of interest,that I've heard as a joke...THE POPE MUST DIE....! BUT THIS IS TASTELESS HUMOR...but in america ,why not??we believe anything he tells us why not a movie aBout the "DA EMENENCE"..LOL=)

Let's face it; I have a liking for satire. I liked how the filmmakers make the Pope seem like a real person (the clerk showing all the amenities that come with the papal chambers).

John Moore
John Moore

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