Flowers of St. Francis (Francesco, giullare di Dio) is an early example of the "commercial" side of Roberto Rossellini. The film traces the life of St. Francis, from his embracing of religion to his efforts to establish a harmonious middle ground between life and spirituality. Rosselini has given us a "chamber" film, deliberately avoiding the overblown vulgarity of Hollywood religious spectacles. The director's assistant and cowriter on this project was Federico Fellini. Unfortunately, Roberto Rossellini was under a cloud in the US thanks to L'affaire Bergman, so Flowers of St. Francis (made right after Stromboli) was not given an immediate American release in 1950. When it finally did get to our shores, at least two reels were cut; we recommend the somewhat more thorough British release version.
by Hal Erickson synopsis