This short was the first of 30 films planned by the Christophers, a non-denominational, anti-totalitarian, anti-communist group with the motto "It's better to light one candle than to curse the darkness", founded in 1945 by Father James Keller.
"You Can Change The World" was filmed in November 1949, and two hundred copies were offered without charge to any interested group. Obviously the circulation started in 1950, and 1952 "You Can Change The World" was released for TV.
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Rochester
Jack Benny Himself
Ann Blyth Herself
Johnny Burke Himself
Bing Crosby Himself
Paul Douglas Himself
Irene Dunne Herself
William Holden Himself
Bob Hope Himself
James G. Keller Himself (as Father James G. Keller)
Jimmy Van Heusen Himself
Loretta Young Herself
(From the Daily Boston Globe - February 26, 1950...)
Catholic Priest Appearing in Movie With Hollywood Stars
HOLLYWOOD. Feb. 25 - There's a new kind of movie-making under way out there.
Under the flood of arcs on a big sound stage stands a tall, handsome Roman Catholic priest. He's doing his first movie-acting, performing acceptably with such boxoffice luminaries as Irene Dunne, Loretta Young, Ann Blyth, William Holden, Jack Benny, Rochester and Paul Douglas.
Father James Keller,49, of New York City, is founder-director of the Christophers, meaning Christ-bearers. There are at least 200.000 members chiefly in the United States. There are no dues, no meetings, no denominational requirements. The basic idea is to get people to do something besides just grumble about things they don't like in education, government, labor-management and so on.
"You can change the world" is the thought behind the Christophers and its the title of Father Keller's movie.
One day here, Father Keller, was relaxing from a nationwide speaking tour by playing golf. His partner, a lawyer friend, said, "Why don't you get these Christopher talks into a picture? They'd reach a lot more people than you ever can."
Father Keller broached the suggestion to his friend, director Leo ("Going My Way") McCarey. McCarey said, "it's a swell idea. But you can't just stand there and talk. Now maybe if there were a little group in somebody's home, and you dropped in..."
McCarey helped spread the word, and the stars volunteered. Bing Crosby sang a song. Bob Hope did a telephone sequence. Stars, director, cameramen, producers and others contributed at least half a million dollars' worth of free time.
Art director Bill Flannery lent the set - a hand-carved, walnut living room, more than two centuries old which he bought in England. In the picture it's Jack Benny's living room.
Fr. Keller stands behind a plush chair, in the center of the group. He ad-libs his lines. Sometimes he requires several takes. McCarey wants naturalness. It's hard for Fr. Keller to laugh at one of Benny's penny-pinching lines with the same spontaneity he managed in rehearsal.
Between scenes, McCarey tells you the priest is "a very good actor. He's not as self-conscious as most people because he has very little vanity."
Several denominations are represented in the cast. Crosby and the Misses Blyth, Dunne and Young are Catholics, Douglas is an Episcopalian, Holden a Congregationalist, and Rochester a Methodist.
Hal Roach lent the sound stage. McCarey and two others wrote the script. William Perlberg of 20th Century Fox and Bernard Carr of Cascade Pictures handled productions. The song Bing sings "Early American" was composed by his movie tunesmiths, Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. Bing plans to make a record of it and donate the proceeds to the Christophers.
The film's $30.000 cost for film, set erection, and labor was met out of contributions to the Christophers. Two hundred 16-millimeter prints of the half-hour film are planned for free distribution among church, club and other groups.
Other Christopher films planned by Father Keller include "Your Role in Government," "Secretarial Work With a Purpose," and "How to Get a Job With a Purpose."
Father Keller is a Maryknoll missionary and the author of two books.
Of Hollywood he tells you:"I've always felt that there is a lot of goodness here. You hear about the freaks, but the majority are good people."
(Daily Boston Globe, Feb.26,1950)