Cast & Crew
At the Grand Avenue Gymnasium in Los Angeles, Father Gil Allen, an Episcopalian minister, practices his pugilistic skills under the watchful eyes of fight manager Gus McCullough. After the minister accidentally knocks down Tiger, Gus's new heavyweight boxer, the fight manager offers Father Gil his services, unaware of the minister's true calling. Later, Father Gil has an audience with his supervisor, Bishop Haette, who questions why the young minister has not married. Father Gil tells the bishop that he has taken a vow of celibacy, in order to make a total commitment to improving the plight of the poor Mexican American children of his Santa Marta parish. Along with his fellow minister, Father Ritchie, Father Gil makes his daily visit to his neighborhood's children's hospital, which is overrun with young victims of a polio epidemic. The attending physician tells Father Gil that money is desperately needed to buy rehabilitation equipment, such as a heated swimming pool, in order to save the young patients from a life-time of paralysis. Rather than money, the bishop offers Father Gil a call for patience. After a young girl dies because the hospital has only a single iron lung, Father Gil decides to become a professional boxer on the sly. Tutored by Gus, Father Gil wins his first fight for crooked fight promoter Tony Lorenzo and gains the unwanted attention of Tony's girl friend, Pearl Gorman, an alcoholic singer. After winning his second fight, Pearl dubs Father Gil "Kid Sunday," a nickname that fits the minister well. One day, Pearl follows Gus to the Grand Avenue Gym, where she abducts Father Gil after his workout and takes him out for lunch by the beach. She offers to connect Father Gil directly with Tony and his big-money fights, then becomes upset when he rejects her advances. After his third fight, Father Gil has earned enough money boxing to break ground on the hospital's swimming pool. Meanwhile, Tony offers to buy Gus's contract with Father Gil for $10,000, and after the fight manager refuses, Tony threatens to ban Gus and all his fighters from his promotions. The pressure builds on Father Gil as well, after Father Ritchie buys a second iron lung for $3,000 on "the installment plan." Learning that Pearl has gone on a drinking spree, Father Gil rescues the love-sick blonde from a downtown bar. Following his fourth victory, Pearl follows Father Gil to the bus station, where she discovers his "secret." Back in Santa Marta, Father Gil explains to Pearl his reason for fighting, and that he needs to raise $8,000 in order to buy all the necessary medical equipment. Gus then sells Father Gil's contract to Tony for $10,000, and donates the money to the minister's parish. At the christening of the hospital's swimming pool, Tony feels no remorse, as he now has the love of the reformed Pearl.
Thomas B. Henry
Edward G. Pagett
Lawrence A. Williams
Haskell B. Boggs
John P. Fulton
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.