AustLit logo
image of person or book cover 1624904437810836075.jpg
Advertisement, Cairns Post, 18 Apirl 1918, p.8
form y separately published work icon The Church and the Woman single work   film/TV   crime   romance  
Adaptation of A Priest's Secret : Under Seal of Confession Edmund Finn , 1888 single work novel
Issue Details: First known date: 1917... 1917 The Church and the Woman
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The sister of a young priest fresh from convent meets Dr Sydney Burton, a playmate of early years, and the pair fall In love. Burton is a Protestant and the girl's father when asked to consent to the marriage gives an emphatic "No" with parental indignation. He orders Burton away, and forbids him to come to the home in the future. His dictum to the contrary, the young people do meet, and the old man aware of this, engages a creature, one Mike Feeney, to watch the doctor and report his movements. Fenney is a miserable rake who will do anything for money, and quarrels with the old man over the amount to be paid and strikes him a fatal blow. Feeney promptly decamps. Burton as happens, passes the spot soon afterwards, and stumbles across the prostrate form. His explanations do not help him. He is tried, sentenced to death. Feeney, who seems never to have been sought out, is later knocked over by a car, and it is apparently when on the verge of death that he confides the truth to Father Shannon. Feeney recovers from his injury and then will not acknowledge his guilt, and binds Father Shannon to the secrets of the confessional. Whereupon the noble priest, rather than see the innocent hung, takes upon himself the respensibility for the crime and secures Burton freedom. Haunted by his evil conduct, Feeney, in the presence of the law's officer makes a clean confession and ends his life by plunging a dagger into his side. The priest eventually marries the young couple behind the altar and all ends happily.'


'The Church and the Woman', Townsville Daily Bulletin, 16 April 1918, p.3.




  • Distributor Hubert Pugliese did not originally release the film as an adaptation of Edmund Finn's novel, but both the Equity Court of New South Wales (which granted Finn an injunction) and the Supreme Court (which upheld the original ruling despite Pugilese's protests, ruled that the film was clearly an adaptation.

    The latter, in particular, noted that:

    'Upon a comparison of the scenario and the novel "A Priest's Secret," continued his Honor, it was beyond question clear that the scenario was taken directly from, and was a reproduction of the novel. Not only were the main incidents of the plot identical with those in the novel, but long passages occurred in the scenario taken verbatim from the novel, and it would be noted that in one passage, occurring on page 7 of the scenario, Longford, who produced the picture, by error used the name "Martin" when speaking of the character in his scenario, "Mike Feeny," who was obviously taken and reproduced from the character, "Martin Sullivan," in the novel.'

    Source: 'A Picture Film Case', Barrier Miner, 30 September 1918, p.1.

  • Pugliese was also sued by the creators of another Australian silent film, The Monk and The Woman (also 1917): though the films bore no resemblance to one another (The Monk and the Woman was purest melodrama, set in the eighteenth century), the creators of the latter felt the titles were too similar and would create confusion.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • c
      Longford-Pugliese ,
      1917 .
      image of person or book cover 1624904437810836075.jpg
      Advertisement, Cairns Post, 18 Apirl 1918, p.8
      Extent: 7,000 feetp.
      Description: Black-and-white; silent
Last amended 17 Jul 2014 14:42:25