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The Rosary Murders (1987) Starring Donald Sutherland, Charles Durning

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The Rosary Murders (1987)

Starring Donald Sutherland, Charles Durning

Life in the Catholic Church of the Holy Redeemer in Detroit is upset by a series of killings whose victims are all priests and nuns. All victims are found with a black rosary in their hands. Father Koesler begins collaborating with the police but soon finds himself in a spot when the killer decides to choose him as confessor.

Director: Fred Walton
Writers: William X. Kienzle (novel), Elmore Leonard

Stars: Donald Sutherland, Charles Durning, Belinda Bauer, Josef Sommer

Cognac Festival du Film Policier 1988

Audience Award Fred Walton

Special Mention Elmore Leonard
Fred Walton
For the screenplay and the dialogs.
The film was shot in Detroit, Michigan at Holy Redeemer parish, a century old Roman Catholic church on Detroit's Southwest side.
The film was based on the book by William Xavier Kienzle. Ordained to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church in 1954, Kienzle spent twenty years as a parish priest. He left the Priesthood, through a process called laicization, reportedly due to the church's refusal to remarry divorcees. He authored 24 crime fiction/mystery novels featuring Father Robert Koesler, a Catholic priest.
Director Fred Walton also received a lot of attention for When A Stranger Calls in 1979.
Sutherland was nominated for 7 Golden Globes, winning 2 for Path To War (2002) and Citizen X (1995). He has never received an Oscar nomination.
Durning was nominated twice for an Oscar. Once for The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982) and once for To Be Or Not To Be (1983). He won a Golden Globe for The Kennedys of Massachusetts (1990).
Sutherland was almost set on becoming an engineer after graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in engineering. However, he also graduated with a degree in drama, and he chose to abandon becoming an engineer in favor of an actor.
Durning was a ballroom dance instructor in his early career. He also studied Judo. His first job in the entertainment field was as an usher at a burlesque house. His career officially started as a singer with a band at the age of 16. Despite the wounds he received in WWII (he was shot in the legs and hip by machine-gun fire), he went on to become a professional dancer and dance teacher. He taught at the Fred Astaire studios and relied upon it when he couldn't find acting work.