5 Classic Catholic Movies

Five Classic Catholic Movies.

"A Man for All Seasons" starred Paul Scofield (right) as Sir Thomas More and Robert Shaw (left) as King Henry VIII.

1. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

At a big city Catholic school, Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict indulge in friendly rivalry, and succeed in extending the school through the gift of a building.

2. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

A Man for All Seasons is a 1966 film based on Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons about Sir Thomas More. It was released on December 12, 1966. Paul Scofield, who had played More in the West End stage premiere, also took the role in the film. It was directed by Fred Zinnemann, who had previously directed such films as High Noon and From Here to Eternity. The film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

In 1930’s Austria, a young woman named Maria is failing miserably in her attempts to become a nun.When the Navy captain Georg Von Trapp writes to the convent asking for a governess that can handle his seven mischevious children,Maria is given the job.The Captain’s wife is dead,and he is often away,and runs the household as strictly as he does the ships he sails on.The children are unhappy and resentful of the governesses that their father keeps hiring,and have managed to run each of them off one by one.When Maria arrives,she is initially met with the same hostility,but her kindness,understanding,and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives–including the Captain’s.Eventually he and Maria find themselves falling in love,even though Georg is already engaged to a Baroness and Maria is still a postulant.The romance makes them both start questioning the decisions they have made.Their personal conflicts soon become overshadowed,however,by world events.Austria is about to come under the control of Germany,and the Captain may soon find himself drafted into the German navy and forced to fight against his own country. Written by LOTUS73 [IMDB.COM]

4. Joan of Arc (1948)

Joan of Arc is a 1948 Technicolor film directed by Victor Fleming; starring Ingrid Bergman as the French religious icon and war heroine. It was produced by Walter Wanger. It is based on Maxwell Anderson’s successful Broadway play Joan of Lorraine, which also starred Bergman, and was adapted for the screen by Anderson himself, in collaboration with Andrew Solt. It is the only film of an Anderson play for which the author himself wrote the film script (at least partially).

5. The Mission (1986)

Though many listers may not think of The Mission as a “classic,” we are however 25 years removed from its debut.

18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.

  • Sound of Music Catholic?

    Oh, I suppose so but I think that it’s at the charismatic end!

  • Yes, wonderful movies! But I love the allegories: Babette’s Feast, Spitfire Grill. Oh, and Pieces of the Lord.

  • I would substitute “The Lord of the Rings” for “The Mission.” JRR Tolkien was a faithful Catholic who helped convert CS Lewis to Christianity. LOTR is saturated with Catholic theology. “The Mission” is a pacifist screed with a manipulative, wordless, and godless sound track. It does not do justice to the real Jesuits who helped arm natives so that they could protect themselves from enslavement. The LOTR has problems, too, but they do not run as deep as the faults of “The Mission.”

    • CatholicScoob

      “manipulative, wordless, and godless sound track”?

      Hah – is this response a joke?

    • c matt

      LOTR is a great series of films, but the trilogy hardly qualifies as a classic at this point. It’s less than ten years out, isn’t it?

  • I urge you to view Keys of The Kingdom with Gregory Peck. He is on a mission to China. The final scene where his mission is done and he is returning home is perhaps among the most inspiring ever filmed with “Come Holy Ghost” as the sountrack playing as he blesses the crowd.

  • Michael

    How about Christmas Holiday from 1944? At least thhis scene, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mqPfoHIxwI

  • What about The Shoes of the Fisherman?


  • Ben

    Typo in #2: title should have ‘for’, not ‘of’

  • Pooler

    A Wonderfule Life? Frank Capra = Catholic. The movie has everything: self sacrifice, vocation to marraige, family, friends, charity, forgiveness, the dignity of human life.

  • Bob Baker

    Conflict, Martin Sheen, 1973 (after Vatican III – yes three).

  • RMW

    Having just watched “The Sound of Music” three times over the past four days. Why so much in such a short time? You can ‘blame’ a lot of kids but not everyone got to see ‘the whole thing’ in one sitting so last night after dinner we all watched it together. And, yes, it is soooo Catholic, especially as you realize it comes the from the real Maria VonTrapp’s own memoirs. She found her vocation from God which happened to be motherhood.

    Her “Land without a Sunday” is a treasure.

  • Kathy Prantner

    I liked “MUrder in the Cathedral” from the play by TS Eliot. It’s the story of St. Thomas a Becket, and it’s one that stays with you.

  • Check out my book Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners now in paperback. It looks at the treatment of Christians (mostly Catholics) in about 200 films from 1905 through 2008. It comments on the films included. Of those films, I would rank only “A Man for All Seasons” in the top 5. Others of classic vintage (1960s or older) that should be considered are two French films, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” and “Monsieur Vincent”. If resticted to English-speaking films, after A Man for All Seasons”, I would add “Keys of the Kingdom” “Song of Bernadette”, “Lilies of the Field”, and “On the Waterfront”. Runners-up would be “Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison”, “The Robe”, “Going My Way” (a far better film than Bells of St. Mary’s”) and “Boys Town”

  • Kylie

    The Mission is SOOOO GOOOOD!!!!! :D