The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of all Time.

This list was released in 1997 © Crisis. The list was compiled by William Park and appeared in Crisis (March 1997). William Park teaches literature and film at Sarah Lawrence College. From William Park: 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.
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1.
3 Godfathers (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
When 3 outlaws on the run find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert they vow to save the child. (106 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
2.
The Age of Innocence (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A tale of nineteenth-century New York high society in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman's cousin. (139 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
 
3.
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids. (97 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
 
4.
The Assisi Underground (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
This film sheds light on the role of the Catholic Church and the people of Assisi in rescuing Italian Jews from the Nazis in 1943. (115 mins.)
 
5.
Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives. He becomes the roommate of top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret. (104 mins.)
Director: Louis Malle
 
6.
Babette's Feast (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
In a remote 19th Danish century village two sisters lead a rigid life centered around their father, the local minister... (102 mins.)
Director: Gabriel Axel
 
7.
Bachelor Mother (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Polly Parrish, a clerk at Merlin's Department Store, is mistakenly presumed to be the mother of a foundling... (82 mins.)
Director: Garson Kanin
 
8.
Late Spring (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father. (108 mins.)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
 
9.
Ben-Hur (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (212 mins.)
Director: William Wyler
 
10.
Casablanca (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
In Casablanca, Morocco during the early days of World War II, an American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
 
11.
The Champ (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Dink Purcell loves his alcoholic father, ex-heavyweight champion Andy "Champ" Purcell, despite his frequent binges... (86 mins.)
 
12.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics. (125 mins.)
Director: Hugh Hudson
 
13.
City Lights (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically. (87 mins.)
Director: Charles Chaplin
 
14.
El Cid (1961)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The fabled Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz (a.k.a. El Cid) overcomes a family vendetta and court intrigue to defend Christian Spain against the Moors. (182 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
 
15.
Going My Way (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Youthful Father Chuck O'Malley led a colorful life of sports, song, and romance before joining the Roman Catholic clergy... (126 mins.)
Director: Leo McCarey
 
16.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
17.
Groundhog Day (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. (101 mins.)
Director: Harold Ramis
 
18.
Ikiru (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer. (143 mins.)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
 
19.
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The life of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew. Pasolini shows Christ as a marxist avant-la-lettre and therefore uses half of the text of Matthew. (137 mins.)
 
20.
It Happened One Night (1934)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story. (105 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
 
21.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (130 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra
 
22.
Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A young priest taking over the parish at Ambricourt tries to fulfill his duties even as he fights a mysterious stomach ailment. (115 mins.)
Director: Robert Bresson
 
23.
La Grande Illusion (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from. (114 mins.)
Director: Jean Renoir
 
24.
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions. (110 mins.)
Director: Carl Th. Dreyer
 
25.
The Last Supper (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A pious plantation owner attempts to teach Christianity to 12 of his slaves by inviting them to participate in a reenactment of the Last Supper. (120 mins.)
 
26.
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Set in Post-WWII Italy, a working class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it. (89 mins.)
 
27.
My Night at Maud's (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The rigid principles of a devout Catholic man are challenged during a one-night stay with Maud, a divorced woman with an outsize personality. (110 mins.)
Director: Éric Rohmer
 
28.
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. (120 mins.)
Director: Fred Zinnemann
 
29.
The Miracle Worker (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate. (106 mins.)
Director: Arthur Penn
 
30.
Nazarin (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A priest in a poor community lives a charitable life in accordance with his religious principles, but many others do not return the favor. (94 mins.)
Director: Luis Buñuel
 
31.
North by Northwest (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive. (136 mins.)
 
32.
On the Waterfront (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. (108 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
 
33.
Pickpocket (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival. (75 mins.)
Director: Robert Bresson
 
34.
Pinocchio (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. (88 mins.)
 
35.
The Quiet Man (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
 
36.
Quiz Show (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation. (133 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
 
37.
Rome, Open City (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, resistance leader Giorgio Manfredi is chased by Nazis and he seeks refuge and escape. (103 mins.)
 
38.
The Sign of the Cross (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A Roman soldier becomes torn between his love for a Christian woman and his loyalty to Emperor Nero. (108 mins.)
 
39.
The Song of Bernadette (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
In 1858 France, Bernadette, an adolescent peasant girl, has a vision of "a beautiful lady" in the city dump... (156 mins.)
Director: Henry King
 
40.
Thérèse (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The life of little St. Therese of Lisieux, depicted in minimalist vignettes. Therese and her sisters are all nuns in a Carmelite convent... (94 mins.)
Director: Alain Cavalier
 
41.
Three Colors: Blue (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child. (98 mins.)
 
42.
Three Colors: Red (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Final entry in a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society concerns a model who discovers her neighbour is keen on invading people's privacy. (99 mins.)
 
43.
Three Colors: White (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Second of a trilogy of films dealing with contemporary French society shows a Polish immigrant who wants to get even with his former wife. (91 mins.)
 
44.
A Man Escaped (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Captured French Resistance fighter Andre Devigny awaits a certain death sentence for espionage in a stark Nazi prison... (99 mins.)
Director: Robert Bresson
 
45.
Vertigo (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. (128 mins.)
 
46.
Journey to Italy (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Catherine and Alexander, wealthy and sophisticated, drive to Naples to dispose of a deceased uncle's villa... (85 mins.)
 
47.
You Can't Take It with You (1938)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family. (126 mins.)
Director: Frank Capra