Monday, June 15, 2009

Register Top Ten Movies to See for the Year of the Priest

On June 19, the Vatican will start the yearlong celebration of the Year of the Priest, so naturally, the National Catholic Register, which always engages the media, had some sugggested films. See which ones you have seen, and make a note to rent the ones you have missed.
Here's my to see list:
The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999),
Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)
Of those six films I've seen, my favorites are I Confess for sheer cliffhanging, dark, Hitchcock drama, and The Mission for it's sublime acting(Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro-as a priest!), sweeping story line, stunning cinematography, and of breathtaking score. Though there's tough competition in The Scarlet and the Black with Christopher Plummer as a Nazi and dashing Gregory Peck as Msgr Flaherty, the Irish priest who was known as the "Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican". But of course, who couldn't use a revisiting of dear Fr O'Malley in Going My Way and The Bells of St Mary's?
If your only memories of a priest portrayed in the movies are the negative or wimpy images which have been produced lately(Mass Appeal-puleeze!, get to the video store and get yourself an armload of these films to share with the kids.
Films with positive portrayals of religious were instrumental in shoring up my childhood faith. I was lucky enough to grow up at the end of the golden era when Hollywood idealized Catholicism (note that most these films are in black and white). While The Singing Nun for example, as per contractual agreement, was not truly based on the life of Soeur Sourire (thank heavens-there's a realistic French film which does this and it was a nightmare) however, it was a wonderful portrayal of the joy of a religious vocation, even as The Nun's Story was a fair portrayal of it's challenges. As a teacher in a convent school this year, I was able to laugh at the over the top yet tender portrayals of the Hayley Mills in The Trouble with Angels ( I just found a DVD of this at Wal-mart in the bargain bin). Don't bother with the sequel, the nuns go Vatican II with guitars and flowers, and the result is pathetic.
What's your favorite portrayal of a priest or nun in Hollywood?
Would you add to this list?
Read the entire article here.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Well, I was going to suggest Romero and Shoes of the Fisherman, but the full article says for the purposes of this list movies with bishops and popes don't count. So nevermind.