MY TOP TEN FAVORITE CATHOLIC MOVIES
When I refer to Catholic movies, I mean movies that refer to specifically Catholic themes that non-Catholics such as Protestants and Jews would not claim as their own. Therefore, movies such as Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or the famous 1956 The Ten Commandments will not be listed. However, out of the dozens of films about Christ, I only like three and highly recommend them: Jesus of Nazareth (1977), The Miracle Maker: the Story of Jesus (2000), The Passion of the Christ (2004). Another movie that can’t be listed is Ben Hur (1959). It is one of my all-time favorite movies.
The main quality I’m looking for is how much the movies give God glory and inspire its viewers the desire to live holy lives. They may not be the best quality in cinematography, sound, music, etc. To me, that’s secondary.
1. The Reluctant Saint (1962)
This movie is about St. Joseph of Cupertino, a simple, clumsy, slow-minded saint who levitated for hours every day. Not shown in the film is the fact that he even flew around in front of thousands of witnesses, and once in front of the pope at that time.
I simply love this movie. Great cast, good acting, and the musical score is perfect.
2. Loyola, the Soldier Saint (1949)
The transformation of a noble fighting soldier to the saint that Ignatius became is remarkably exhibited in this film. The actor looks just like the saint we love in the end.
3. The Miracle of Marcelino (1955)
A beautiful story about an infant left on the doorstep of a monastery to be raised by its humble monks. I’ve never watched this film without tearing up at the end. Musical score is as beautiful as the film.
4. The Song of Bernadette (1943)
This is the true story about St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France (1844-1879), played by Jennifer Jones, who won Best Actress for her role. Vincent Price is the not so scary villain in perhaps the best made film on the list. What is most striking about this film is not the apparition of Our Lady, or the miraculous spring that sprang up from the apparition site (still existing today), but the life that St. Bernadette lived, winning the hearts of nearly everyone, including her nun superior who despised her until the end.
5. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
This is the heroic true story of St. Thomas More and his dealings with Henry VIII and the Protestant revolution in England. Won best picture. It is masterful writing and acting!
6. The Priest and the Devil –The Life of the Cure of Ars (1949) Also known in France as Le Sorcier du Ciel
I’m sure most people won’t appreciate this film as I do. It’s a low budget, poor quality film in comparison to the older The Song of Bernadette. However, the story line is thoroughly Catholic with the great St. John Vianney changing the awry town of Ars into a city of faith. I’ll gladly take this film over the better quality films in my honorable mention list below.
7. Francis of Assisi (1961)
This wonderful movie hammers home the ideals of Christ and the Gospels. After all, no one better reflected Christ and the Gospels than St. Francis.
8. The Miraculous Life of Teresa of Lisieux (1930)
Every film I’ve ever seen on St. Teresa is good. I could have placed any one of them in the top ten. This is a great spiritual film about who many believe is a spiritual giant among saints.
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
It’s the only silent film that I would ever watch twice.
10. St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (TV 2000)
Okay, it’s a TV movie, and even though this film is little low budget, it’s still enjoyable to watch. St. Patrick is my patron and this film uplifts my heart with the desire to be a saint like him. I watch this film every year with my kids and don’t get tired of it. Several films below could have filled this spot, but none of them inspires me to be a saint like this one, and that is what the best films must do for me…
I’m including below some honorable mentions that I’ve enjoyed watching over the years. A few could fit in my top ten somewhere.
The Mission (1986) – Has a great cast, musical score, with a thought provoking end.
The Sound of Music (1965) – Great all-time film, but doesn’t inspire to be a saint.
St. Francis [Francesco] (2002) – Could have easily placed in top ten.
Monsieur Vincent (1948) – Another good Catholic film.
Joan of Arc (1948) – My only objection is Ingrid Bergman’s overacting.
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) – Great film.
Becket (1964) – Peter O’Toole is Brilliant!
The Prisoner (1955) – I love the Holy Mass scene in the beginning.
One Man’s Hero (1999) – Fascinating war movie.
Satan Never Sleeps (1962) – Fun movie with interesting twist at the end.
The Scarlet and the Black (1983) – My Grandfather drove a US Tank in this film.
The Assisi Underground (1985) – Cool historical flick.
Come to the Stable (1949) – Fun family movie.
The Detective (1954) – Good old fashion movie with a Catholic slant.
I Confess (1953) – Suspenseful!
Thérèse (1986) – More like a play than a movie, but very good.
Thérèse (2004) – Another good film about St. Teresa.