A Higher Calling

The opening scene of One Foot in Heaven (1941) parallels the theme (and expected surprise) of our 2015 series. Fredric March plays William Spence, a young, Canadian doctor in med school who pays a visit on his fiancee, Hope (Martha Scott), and her family. He has some important news he needs to share with them. It concerns his future with Hope. After some anxious questioning from the in-laws-to-be, he confesses to having gotten “the call” one day while listening to a preacher give a powerful sermon. The words the preacher spoke so touched William that then and there he decided to become a minister himself. Naturally, this comes as a surprise to Hope and her parents as they were all expecting him to become a doctor. Their lives together have now taken a different path, and William and Hope will start life anew in America.

Like Hope’s family who were expecting William to follow a certain path that had been laid out, so too are my patrons expecting something quite different from what I now have planned. Many in the audience want to see comedies or musicals or programs on a particular star. I’m afraid Cinema of Transcendence, as I’m calling it, will come as a surprise to them. Our seventh season at the Park Ridge Public Library ventures off the beaten path… once again. We’ll explore the role of spirituality on film– reel religion, if you will. This is a program I’ve wanted to share for a long time.

One Foot in Heaven is the film that inspired this series. I’m intending to show it next spring– if the Warner Archive can restore it by then. (I’ve already contacted Warner and they are planning on releasing it soon, but a date has not yet been set.) But regardless of whether it is shown today or some distant tomorrow, its influence will be felt and it will be referenced throughout. Our theme, however, is larger than any one title. We’ll be screening films of all genres that reflect a transcendent view of humanity with a hope that we can become something more than what we are now. This is a series that offers a vision of humanity at its best.

The Church’s One Foundation, a hymn sung in One Foot in Heaven.

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