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The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time

Related Pages:
- Films Suggested by Catholics
- Top 50 Greatest Jewish Movies
Source: William Park. "The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time", Crisis 15, no. 10 (March 1997): 82-91 (URL: The full article, with brief explanations of why each movie was listed, can also be read on the Catholic Educator's Resource Center website:

ABSTRACT (from Park's article): The best religious films, and therefore the best Catholic films, convey the great truths of Christianity implicitly rather than explicitly. This list consists primarily of films that deal with Catholic characters, Catholic society, and the Bible in ways that are not hostile to the Church. Most of them were made by Catholic directors.

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: To be completely fair, a large number of this films have no Catholic characters at all. Clearly Park's criteria for listing these films relies heavily on their deeper thematic content and moral quality. These are excellent films, and we certainly have no disagreement with William Park's position that these are among the "best Catholic movies of all time." But it may be pointed out that while most of the filmmakers who made these films were Catholic, many of these films were made by filmmakers of other faiths, including directors or screenwriters who were Jews, Methodists, Latter-day Saints (Mormons), etc. If one can identify these as "Catholic films", then certainly there are many who would argue that some of these films are among (for example) the "greatest Jewish" or "greatest LDS" or "greatest Presbyterian" films of all time.

William Park's
Best "Catholic" Movies of All Time

(listed alphabetically)
Film Title (year) Director Rated Religious Affiliation
of the Director
The Age of Innocence (1993) Martin Scorsese PG Catholic (lapsed former seminarian)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Michael Curtiz Approved Jewish
The Assisi Underground (1984) Alexander Ramati PG  
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) Louis Malle PG Catholic (lapsed)
Babette's Feast (1987) Gabriel Axel G  
Bachelor Mother (1939) Garson Kanin Approved  
Ladri di biciclette (1947)
(U.S.: The Bicycle Thief; U.K.: Bicycle Thieves)
Vittorio De Sica UK:U Catholic
Blue (1992) Don McKellar    
Ben-Hur (1959) William Wyler G Jewish
Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz PG Jewish
The Champ (1931) King Vidor   Christian Science
Chariots of Fire (1981) Hugh Hudson PG  
El Cid (1961) Anthony Mann NR  
City Lights (1931) Charlie Chaplin NR Anglican; agnostic
Un Condamne a Mort S'est Echappe (1956)
(a.k.a. A Man Escaped)
Robert Bresson UK:U Jansenist Catholic
Journal d'un cure de campagne (1950)
(a.k.a. Diary of a Country Priest)
Robert Bresson Approved Jansenist Catholic
Going My Way (1944) Leo McCarey Approved Catholic
Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (1964)
(a.k.a. The Gospel According to St. Matthew)
Pier Paolo Pasolini UK:U  
La Grande illusion (a.k.a. Grand Illusion) (1937) Jean Renoir NR Catholic
The Grapes of Wrath (1940) John Ford Approved Catholic
Groundhog Day (1993) Harold Ramis PG Jewish
Ikiru (1952) Akira Kurosawa PG Buddhist-Shinto culture
It Happened One Night (1934) Frank Capra UK:U Catholic; Christian Science
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra Approved Catholic; Christian Science
La Ultima cena (a.k.a. The Last Supper) (1976) Tomas Gutierrez Alea Spain:18  
Banshun (a.k.a. Late Spring) (1949) Yasujiro Ozu   Buddhist-Shinto culture
A Man for All Seasons (1966) Fred Zinnemann Approved Jewish
The Miracle Worker (1962) Arthur Penn Australia:PG  
Ma nuit chez Maud (1969)
(a.k.a. My Night at Maud's)
Eric Rohmer Catholic Catholic
Nazarin (1959) Luis Bunuel   Catholic; atheist
North by Northwest (1959) Alfred Hitchcock UK:PG Catholic
On the Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan PG Greek Orthodox (lapsed);
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)
(a.k.a. The Passion of Joan of Arc)
Carl Theodor Dreyer UK:PG  
Pickpocket (1959) Robert Bresson Argentina:16 Jansenist Catholic
Pinocchio (1940) Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen G  
The Quiet Man (1952) John Ford Approved Catholic
Quiz Show (1994) Robert Redford PG-13  
Roma, citta aperta
(a.k.a. Rome, Open City) (1945)
Roberto Rossellini Approved Communist; Catholic
The Sign of the Cross (1932) Cecil B. DeMille Approved Episcopalian
The Song of Bernadette (1943) Henry King Approved Jewish
Therese (1986) Alain Cavalier    
3 Godfathers (1948) John Ford UK:A Catholic
Viaggio in Italia (1953)
(a.k.a. Voyage to Italy; a.k.a. Strangers)
Roberto Rossellini   Communist; Catholic
You Can't Take It With You (1938) Frank Capra NR Catholic; Christian Science
Vertigo (1958) Alfred Hitchcock PG Catholic

NOTE: There are only 45 movies on the list.


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50 Greatest Catholic movies webpage created circa July 2001. Last modified 30 September 2005.