Today felt like a day to recommend some papal pop culture…
Pope Benedict has announced his retirement–a rare event. 1978 marked another rare moment in Vatican history: the Catholic Church had three popes in one year. Popes were dropping like flies. After the death of Pope Paul VI on August 6, the newly elected Pope John Paul I served a mere 33 days before suffering a fatal heart attack on September 29.
Which brings me to Foul Play. Released in July of 1978–just a month before the popes started dying–the film follows a hapless librarian (Goldie Hawn) and a San Francisco cop (Chase) who become the last line of defense against a plot to assassinate the Pope. How odd is that?
No odder than the film itself. A comically alchemical festival of absurdities complete with a Barry Manillow soundtrack, Foul Play works something like one part mystery, one part hairy dog tale, and one part romantic comedy. This whodunnit (or whoisplanningtodunnit) movie incorporates a classic San Francisco car chase, an albino hitman, a dwarf Bible salesman, and a striptease by Dudley Moore into its quest to save the Pope.