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Catholic -- Its the Catholic in me

Movies of a religious nature or involving religious figure that portray some aspect of the faith in a positive light. These are not necessarily religious movie, one is a horror movie. These are movies are just some movies I felt had a positive religious aspect, in some case in spite of their theme.

1) The Nativity (2007)
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Oscar Isaac

The Story of the birth of Christ. Some will find the story a bit contrived and at times a bit confusing. In all however this makes a pretty good retelling of the Nativity story. The three Magi are quite entertaining. The part of Herod is also well acted. The director uses historical accounts to set the mood of the picture and then uses this information as a setting for the biblical account. As such we have Mary betrothed to Joseph in an arranged marriage. We also have Mary and Joseph scorned in Nazareth once Mary's pregnancy is revealed.

Weak spots for me are the visits by the the Archangel Gabriel, which are central to the story. The movie makes a good teaching tool during Advent and worth watching before Christmas


Rated: 6.8 out of 10 at IMDB

2) I Confess (1953)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring:Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden

So what if you were a Catholic priest and a person framed you with a murder and confessed to you? This sleeper was a movie Hitchcock made because he wanted to make it despite knowing it wasn't going to be a big hit. It delves deep into the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation.

Rated: 6.9 out of 10 at IMDB

3) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Directed by: William Dieterle
Starring Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke, Maureen O'Hara, Edmond O'Brien

Is there really a doubt that Frollo is a priest who is not necessarily in love but lusts after the gypsy girl. Is there also no doubt that he is not a nice guy. After all, Quasimodo is basically his slave. Sure a few things were changed in the movie but anyone familiar with the book knows Frollo was a priest who delved in the dark side. He pays for his sins. What makes the movie more interesting is the way the Gypsy girl is granted sanctuary in the Church, her seeing the importance of Mary, the mother of God, and the way the good priest in the story confronts Frollo. You can also imagine Quasimodo as a guardian angel. His love for the gypsy girl is pure and despite knowing it will never repaid, he is not driven to jealousy but to bravery.

Reading the book, it is not hard to see that Victor Hugo was a child of the enlightenment who had an ax to grind with both Church and State. However the movie was tweaked enough to soften the edge and give a more positive light to religion. I know many people hate this aspect of the movie, but I would assume they also have axes to grind.

Rated: 7.7 out of 10 at IMDB

4) Heaven Knows Mister Allison (1957)
Directed by: John Huston
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr

Marine and a Nun get stranded on an Japanese Island in WWII. The aspects of importance are the way the Nun and Marine interact and the way he comes to terms with her religious devotion. There is a love that develops between them but alas she has a higher calling which is beyond his comprehension.

Rated: 7.3 out of 10 at IMDB

5) Bells of St. Mary (1945)
Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman

Lighthearted comedy about a priest and his attempt to save a Catholic school. The movie shows a human dimension to religious leaders. It also shows that the good in all people can be brought out with a little effort. Perhaps a little naive but the positive message is uplifting.

Rated: 7.1 out of 10 at IMDB

6) The Passion of The Christ (2004)
directed by: Mel Gibson
Starring: James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Hristo Jivkov

The Triduum is for Catholics the most important time of the year. It begins on Holy Thursday and ends with Easter. The Passion of the Christ begins right after the Last Supper with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and end in the Tomb It is probably one of the most important movies made about Jesus. The movie brings the stations of the cross to the screen in the most graphic detail While many aspects of the movie are probably technically incorrect, it is a powerful artistic success. The movie will have more meaning to Church going Catholics and people strong in their faith.

Rated: 7.4 out of 10 at IMDB (probably a little low, the movie was vilified before it came out)

7) Going My Way (1945)
Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald

Young innovative priest comes in to save a failing parish without upsetting the current pastor. The movie again show religious leaders as humans with faults and emotions. As with Bells of St. Mary, the movie is positive in its approach to religion and life. There are many moments where we see Bing Crosby play Father O'Malley as not just content but happy with his decision to become a priest. The scene where Barry Fitzgerald describes the Christmas present his mother sends him every year is priceless.

Rated: 7.3 out of 10 at IMDB

8) Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Pat O' Brien, and the Deadend Kids
Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Childhood friends go separate ways. One ends up a gangster the other a priest. The important aspect of the movie is the way the friendship continues right up until the end and the final repentance at the urging of a friend allows the gangster to do the brave thing, the right thing.

Rated: 7.7 out of 10 at IMDB

9) The Scarlet and the Black ( Made for TV, 1983)
Directed by: Jerry London
Starring: Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer.

World War II move involving an Irish Priest working at the Vatican and his effort to hide allied POWs from occupying Nazis. A true story, it give insight on the limits the Vatican could do to help refugees from Nazi atrocities without being totally annihilated. Read the end credits closely. They might surprise you!

Rated: 7.7 out of 10 at IMDB

10) Ben Hur (1959)
Directed by: William Wyler
Starring: Charlton Heston

Judah Ben Hur, goes from prince to slave, to free man again. In the process, he crosses paths with Jesus the Christ on more than one occasion. While the movie is best remembered for its action scenes, especially the chariot race the underlying tale of Christ moves the story along.

Rated: 8.2 out of 10 at IMDB

11) The Trouble with Angels (1966)
Directed by: Ida Lupino
Starring: Hayley Mills, June Harding, Rosalind Russell

A couple trouble makers arrive at an all Girls Catholic boarding school. The most important aspect of the movie is how Mary is drawn into the mysteries of why these women are nuns and Rachel's oblivion to her best friend's deepest thoughts.


Rated: 7.0 out of 10 at IMDB

The National Catholic Register did a poll of the top 100 pro-Catholic movies. These were there top ten:

Top 10 Pro-Catholic Movies
From an online poll with more than 1,000 participants.
1. The Passion of the Christ (2004) *
2. The Sound of Music (1985)
3. A Man For All Seasons (1966)
4. The Song of Bernadette (1943)
5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
6. The Ten Commandments (1956)
7. The Scarlet and the Black (1983)
8. Jesus of Nazareth (1977)
9. Schindler’s List (1993) * *
10. The Bells of St Mary’s (1945)

The list was done around the time the Passion of the Christ was in the theaters. To read more see:

© 2005, BlindKat Publishers