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The Leather Saint

The Leather Saint(1956)

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According to Hollywood Reporter news items, producer Leonard Goldstein purchased the script to The Leather Saint from writers Alvin Ganzer and Norman Retchin in early 1954, intending to make it as a Universal Pictures production. It has not been determined what contribution, if any, Goldstein made to the final film. At that time, a Los Angeles Examiner news item claimed that Montgomery Clift was being wooed for the lead role of "Father Gil," as Ganzer was a close friend of the actor and had written the role of the boxing priest with Clift in mind. Los Angeles Times reported in September 1954 that actor Ricardo Montalban was then being considered for the lead role in the film.
       According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the lead character of The Leather Saint was originally envisioned as a Catholic priest. In June 1954, the film's story was submitted by Leonard Goldstein Productions to the MPAA, and in a memo dated June 7, 1954, the MPAA informed the production company that it had given the story outline to Monsignor John J. Devlin for review, who advised them that "under Canon Law in the Catholic Church, a priest who had done such a thing [box professionally to raise money for his Mexican mission] would be severely punished by his bishop." In turn, Frank McFadden of Goldstein Productions informed the MPAA that his company would change the character to a Protestant minister. On December 23, 1955, a final draft script was submitted to the MPAA by Paramount, with the character in question an Episcopalian priest. In addition, the studio informed the MPAA that an unnamed minister had read and approved the script. On January 6, 1956, the MPAA approved the script, though it advised the studio to consult with George Heimrick of the National Council of Churches' Broadcasting and Film Commission before beginning the production. It has not been determined, however, if the studio ever contacted Heimrick or the council.
       The Hollywood Reporter review and assorted news items reported that the minister's denomination was changed after the writers decided to add a romantic subplot. The song "Beyond You" by Walter Ruick and Richard A. Whiting was submitted to the MPAA for use in The Leather Saint, but was not performed in the viewed print.