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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: http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Crisis/1997-11/f8.html). The full article, with brief explanations of why each movie was listed, can also be read on the Catholic Educator's Resource Center website: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/arts/al0029.html

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)DirectorRatedReligious Affiliation
of the Director
The Age of Innocence (1993)Martin ScorsesePGCatholic (lapsed former seminarian)
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)Michael CurtizApprovedJewish
The Assisi Underground (1984)Alexander RamatiPG 
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)Louis MallePGCatholic (lapsed)
Babette's Feast (1987)Gabriel AxelG 
Bachelor Mother (1939)Garson KaninApproved 
Ladri di biciclette (1947)
(U.S.: The Bicycle Thief; U.K.: Bicycle Thieves)
Vittorio De SicaUK:UCatholic
Blue (1992)Don McKellar  
Ben-Hur (1959)William WylerGJewish
Casablanca (1942)Michael CurtizPGJewish
The Champ (1931)King Vidor Christian Science
Chariots of Fire (1981)Hugh HudsonPG 
El Cid (1961)Anthony MannNR 
City Lights (1931)Charlie ChaplinNRAnglican; agnostic
Un Condamne a Mort S'est Echappe (1956)
(a.k.a. A Man Escaped)
Robert BressonUK:UJansenist Catholic
Journal d'un cure de campagne (1950)
(a.k.a. Diary of a Country Priest)
Robert BressonApprovedJansenist Catholic
Going My Way (1944)Leo McCareyApprovedCatholic
Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (1964)
(a.k.a. The Gospel According to St. Matthew)
Pier Paolo PasoliniUK:U 
La Grande illusion (a.k.a. Grand Illusion) (1937)Jean RenoirNRCatholic
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)John FordApprovedCatholic
Groundhog Day (1993)Harold RamisPGJewish
Ikiru (1952)Akira KurosawaPGBuddhist-Shinto culture
It Happened One Night (1934)Frank CapraUK:UCatholic; Christian Science
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)Frank CapraApprovedCatholic; Christian Science
La Ultima cena (a.k.a. The Last Supper) (1976)Tomas Gutierrez AleaSpain:18 
Banshun (a.k.a. Late Spring) (1949)Yasujiro Ozu Buddhist-Shinto culture
A Man for All Seasons (1966)Fred ZinnemannApprovedJewish
The Miracle Worker (1962)Arthur PennAustralia:PG 
Ma nuit chez Maud (1969)
(a.k.a. My Night at Maud's)
Eric RohmerCatholicCatholic
Nazarin (1959)Luis Bunuel Catholic; atheist
North by Northwest (1959)Alfred HitchcockUK:PGCatholic
On the Waterfront (1954)Elia KazanPGGreek Orthodox (lapsed);
Communist
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)
(a.k.a. The Passion of Joan of Arc)
Carl Theodor DreyerUK:PG 
Pickpocket (1959)Robert BressonArgentina:16Jansenist Catholic
Pinocchio (1940)Hamilton Luske, Ben SharpsteenG 
The Quiet Man (1952)John FordApprovedCatholic
Quiz Show (1994)Robert RedfordPG-13 
Roma, citta aperta
(a.k.a. Rome, Open City) (1945)
Roberto RosselliniApprovedCommunist; Catholic
The Sign of the Cross (1932)Cecil B. DeMilleApprovedEpiscopalian
The Song of Bernadette (1943)Henry KingApprovedJewish
Therese (1986)Alain Cavalier  
3 Godfathers (1948)John FordUK:ACatholic
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 CapraNRCatholic; Christian Science
Vertigo (1958)Alfred HitchcockPGCatholic

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.