I can't quite figure out why Reverend Ford's chandelier-shaking tirade from Pollyanna popped into my head this morning—Simcha Fisher's recent post, "Six sermons I could do without," perhaps?—but I'm certainly not complaining. Far-and-away the funniest, most memorable moment in a film that I don't care for very much (because Haley Mills, mostly).
Karl Malden's pretty much perfect here, and the stark contrast between the Reverend's Pulpit Demeanor and his almost-mousy quietness when not standing before his congregation is fantastic. Sadly, I can't seem to find an officially-sanctioned clip of the whole speech (and its especially-hilarious opening), so this segment from TCM will have to do. (Oh, and the best sermon Karl Malden ever delivered was Father Barry's "This is my church," from On the Waterfront. One of the greatest cinematic moments of all time, as far as I'm concerned.)
There you are. Sitting there, calm in your knowledge of health, secure in your well-being. Yet who could suffer the agonies of the damned tomorrow? Yes, even today. Or maybe the next hour, the next minute. And if we were to know which of you it was, what an awful sight it would be. A soul, doomed to the everlasting bottomless pit of a divine wrath! Yes, death comes unexpectedly!