View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Top 10 Priest Movies

I snagged this from over at the National Catholic Register site:

For the Year of the Priest, here are the “Top 10 Priest Movies” from our Top 100 Catholic Movies List (the full list is always under “Resources” above):

1. The Scarlet and the Black (1983)
2. The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
3. The Mission (1986), mature audiences
4. Going My Way (1944)
5. The Keys of the Kingdom (1944)
6. On the Waterfront (1954)
7. I Confess (1953)
8. Boys Town (1938)
9. Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (1999), mature audiences
10. Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

(This list represents movies whose main character is a priest. It omits movies focused on a bishop or a pope.)

- My spin. I like many of these movies, and we own several of them. The Scarlet and the Black, Going My way, and The Keys of the Kingdom are ones I've watched repeatedly. The Mission is powerful; I have to be in the right mood. Does the priest in On the Waterfront count as the main character? (Brando might argue that he's a contender for that title.) I have never seen I Confess, so that's one I have to dig up. To be honest, I find Boys Town and Angels with Dirty Faces dated.

What about good priest movies that did not make the list? Hmm.

Diary of a Country Priest (1950) is the only one I can think of off the top of my head.

There's plenty of hagiography movies of saints who were priests. Many of them are decent and pious, but not great.


Blogger Brother Charles said...

Hey! My two favorite movie priests missed the list: Fr. Merrin from The Exorcist and the poor confessor from Amadeus.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does everyone think about the movie "The Cardinal" from the early 60s.


3:57 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ah, yes, I remember "The Cardinal."

It was good, but it does not make the list. They said specifically they were listing movies only with priests, not bishops or cardinals (otherwise, "The Cardinal" and "Shoes of the Fisherman" might have made the list).

But I did think of one movie they left off: "Father Brown" (1954). Alec Guinness is wonderful as Chesterton's detective priest.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood was one of the best movies about the Catholic priesthood.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood was a great movie about the Catholic priesthood too.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I didn't see "Gran Torino" - but unless I'm mistaken a priest was not the main character, so would not make this list.

Was there a priest in it? (Sort of like the poor priest in "Million Dollar Baby" maybe?)

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A priest was the main character. And you need to rent the movie if you can.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

"I Confess" certainly belongs on the list. Everyone tends to forget that Alfred Hitchcock was a "serious" Catholic. Also, it was Montgomery Clift's best (and most overlooked) film role.

I'd add, for U.S. films, the 1981 "True Confessions" (which, like The Mission also has Robert DeNiro as a priest... and he was a Bishop in the 1970 Mexican film, "El Puente de San Luis Rey" (from the Thorton Wilder novel)... and, of course, he played "Lou Cypher" (sound it out) in Angel Heart -- making him a rather versatile actor :-)

As to Mexican films (if you're not limiting "the best" to English-speaking and U.S. made) ... I'd add the early 1970s obscure (not listed in the Internet Movie Database) "Carta del Senor" -- which someone may remember... Satan himself shows up in a Michoacan village on the afternoon bus (with his buxom minions... minionettes?) to test the faith of the village priest.

That's my "good priest movie" selection. Some may say it's a "bad priest" movie, but "El Crimen de Padre Amaro" -- despite being based on an Portuguese 19th novel, and seen as anti-clerical (dealing as it does with various sorts of clerical corruption), it is an excellent portrait of everyday life for rural priests.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Since DeNiro was mentioned, I'll plug one of my favorites, We're No Angels (the 1989 co-starring Sean Penn, not the 1955 version with Bogart and Peter Ustinov).

Set in the 1930s (pre-pre-Vatican II), DeNiro and Penn escape from prison and are mistaken for two traveling priests so they play along to hide out in a monastery while the heat dies down. Hilarity and conversion ensue. Wallace Shawn (aka Vizzini the Sicilian from The Princess Bride) has a bit part as a monk. Classic.

9:29 PM  

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