Pawn Sacrifice: A movie with a priest in it much of the way

"Pawn Sacrifice" stars Tobey Maguire as Bobby Fisher, the chess 
celebrity of the late 1960's-early 70's.   Maguire has played Spiderman 
three times, but his acting in this film is mostly limited to sitting at 
a chess board in this movie (or preparing to sit at one).  So--no high 
flying web moves over the city. However, the chess moves of his 
character are more challenging and amazing. And Maguire acts well in 
this film, because, hey, who's going to watch chess on the big screen 
for a movie--unless the story is filled with tension and drama?! 
Well, it is.   

Maguire delivers as the troubled character Bobby Fisher, brilliant in 
chess, but so personally disturbed and mentally anguished.  The build up 
of the film, and of chess king Fisher's life, was to play the Russians 
and the great Boris Spassky, in showdown games.   Actor Liev Schrieber 
play Spassky, first coldly, then as a interested study of his opponent 
Fisher, who is so unpredictable to him, and one to be pitied for the 
misery that afflicts his talented rival across the board and from across
the ocean in America.   Spassky is the face of Communism to Fisher, who 
greatly dislikes it, so some agent of the American government 'recruits' 
Fisher him to 'win a world war III' cold-war battle of USA vs. Russia by
saying that his taking a chess championship away from Spassky is his
'patriotic duty.'  Fisher is all in.   His listening to doomsday 
Christianity radio and tapes feeds this act-like-it's-the-end-of-the-
world viewpoint to Bobby.  
Enter in the character in the film of Fr. Bill (Lombardy). He is a whole 
different and sane and mature and faith-filled man to walk into Bobby 
Fisher's life.  Fr. Bill is a smart chess player, too, and knows all the 
moves and lingo of the game, and becomes the coach/advisor to Bobby.  
Lombardy actually had won against Fisher in chess, which Fisher 
remembers and respects.  (Lombardy also was an International Grandmaster 
who finished second to Fischer in the 1961 US Championship.)  He is now 
Fr. Bill.  He will come and try to help the genius but greatly mentally- 
disturbed Fisher (paranoia) to not beat himself, but attain his goal of 
winning against Spassky.   The character of Bill, played wondrously by 
Catholic actor Peter Saarsgard, shows a priest serving in a good light.  
He is non-judgmental, yet firm in care.  He is caring for Bobby's 
humanity, and relating person-to-person with him, every sharing a 
cigarette or drink or an earthy word or two with him.  Bobby sees him
as a real person, and eventually as the only one he can believe just 
really cares for him, without strings attached. 

When Fr. Bill seems exasperated with his task of helping Bobby (as 
Fisher gets worse and worse in his paranoia), you see the priest getting 
out his rosary calling on help from Holy Mary.  I liked seeing that 
scene, of course.

The film has its usual language and sexually-risqué PG-13 content, but 
it doesn't ruin the story, because it comes from a true one (which 
exhibited these things).  
Since the film is based on real history, I wondered about where Fr. 
Bill is these days. Four decades later, Fr. Bill Lombardy is not an 
active priest.  I looked it up to see if he was a retired Jesuit. 
Alas, he was one of many in the turbulent times of the priesthood to 
leave it.  Yet, the kind of priest he was serving as, back in those 
times, was of a priest shepherd out caring for a lost sheep. 

It reminded me of the two effective priests who served at the Newman 
Center in my collegiate days.  They were both down-to-earth, related 
well to the students and the university, and gave us good years of 
Catholicism in campus life.  Each stayed in the priesthood, too.
In the 1970's, while I was not a paranoid man in need (!), sometimes the 
challenges of collegiate life were plenty enough, and these priests were 
a testimony that Christ Jesus was on the campus with us-- to help us 
achieve our degrees and our maturity and our walk with God.

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