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When in Rome (1952)

An American fugitive flees to Rome and tries to elude capture by masquerading as a priest.


Clarence Brown


Robert Buckner (story), Dorothy Kingsley (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Van Johnson ... Father John X. Halligan
Paul Douglas ... Joe Brewster
Joseph Calleia ... Aggiunto Bodulli
Carlo Rizzo Carlo Rizzo ... Antonio Silesto
Tudor Owen ... Father McGinniss
Dino Nardi Dino Nardi ... Commissario Genoa
Aldo Silvani Aldo Silvani ... Cabby with horse and buggy
Mario Siletti ... Luigi Lugacetti
Argentina Brunetti ... Mrs. Lugacetti
Mimi Aguglia ... Rosa
Emory Parnell ... Ship's Captain
Charles Fawcett Charles Fawcett ... Mr. Cates
Alberto Lolli Alberto Lolli ... Father Segatini
Adriano Ambrogi Adriano Ambrogi ... Father Mariani
Amina Pirani Maggi Amina Pirani Maggi ... Dove


An American fugitive flees to Rome and tries to elude capture by masquerading as a priest.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You'll have a wonderful time!


Comedy | Crime | Drama


See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 July 1952 (Portugal) See more »

Also Known As:

Abenteuer in Rom See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »


Box Office


$1,313,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The transatlantic ship depicted in the film taking Joe and Father John to Genoa is the S.S. Ionia - per the name seen on the lifeboat. It was built in 1912 in the UK and named the S.S. Digby. After four subsequent owners it was acquired by the Hellenic Mediterranian Lines of Greece in 1947. Sold to a Panamanian line in 1965 and renamed the S.S. Ionian, it capsized and sank that same year off Jakarta, Indonesia. See more »


A large moving shadow of the boom microphone is visible on the wall behind Father John when he is in Bodulli's office asking for his help in getting a pardon for Joe. See more »


Father John X. Halligan: Holiness often disappears with the daylight.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening card: "1950 was a holy year. Three million pilgrims from every part of the world thronged to Rome, the Eternal City. Our story is about two men who journeyed to Rome that year. One was Father John X. Halligan, a young priest from Coaltown, Pennsylvania, whose mission was a holy one; the other was Joe Brewster, late of Sing Sing, San Quentin, Joliet, and Atlanta, whose mission was not so holy...

If our story has a moral, it's a simple one: God may move in mysterious ways, but He gets there just the same. " See more »


Hymn 'Panis Angelicus'
by César Franck
See more »

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User Reviews

The Man who Found God at the Movies
19 May 2015 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In order to celebrate the "Holy Year" of 1950, Pennsylvania priest Van Johnson (as John X. Halligan) decides to sail on a sabbatical to Italy. Aboard ship, Mr. Johnson befriends likable, gruff bunkmate Paul Douglas (as Joe Brewster). Johnson doesn't know it (yet), but Mr. Douglas is a swindler who just escaped from San Quentin. Douglas correctly realizes authorities will be looking to arrest him after the ship docks. He dons Johnson's priestly clothing and makes a quick getaway. Johnson is left to wear Douglas checkered green jacket and hat. Johnson is falsely arrested. Douglas is accepted by other priests in Rome. After the polizia sort things out, they want Johnson to assist in Douglas' capture...

However, Johnson becomes more interested in Douglas' soul...

One of MGM's most winning teams, director Clarence Brown and cinematographer William Daniels, make "When in Rome" very attractive. After arriving on location, the picture approaches art. A highlight in storytelling occurs when Douglas looks at cold, stark church-like walls and realizes they look very much like his former prison. The picture morphs into a prison, then fades back to a monastery look. This calls later events into question, but Douglas ends in a more tranquil setting; possibly, it shows the character "questioning" a transformation. Although he is billed second, the story is clearly about Douglas's character. The bigger "box office" name, Johnson is commendable and supportive in the less stellar role.

******* When in Rome (1952-05-11) Clarence Brown ~ Paul Douglas, Van Johnson, Joseph Calleia, Carlo Rizzo

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