Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1996) Poster

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nice film but feather light
Aimee Natal18 April 2000
For those unfamiliar with Dorothy Day, having never read any of her writings, this film might seem like a nice one. However, if this is all anyone ever got of the "Dorothy Day Story," they wouldn't really have much of the story. It's a shame, because her writings and life were so interesting, as was her daughter Tamar's. The Catholic Worker Movement, which Day founded, still exists with over 120 communities across the USA. The film is at its best in portraying Day's life in New York City while she lived a "bohemian" life as a reporter, working for a socialist newspaper. It is too shallow in dealing with her conversion to Catholicism, leaving no real explanation for it. If it at least makes some interested in this woman's life, that is to be highly commended. I would recommend reading Day's own autobiography, The Long Lonliness.
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The Best Movie No One's Seen
Red"V"28 June 1999
This may be the best film no one has seen, despite the brief but important performance of rising star Heather Graham. {Perhaps the awkward title kept people away). "Entertaining Angels" does what few movies have: explore inner, spiritual conflict dramatically and intelligently. This is an engaging, challenging work for everyone. The film overall is not preachy, yet the religious dimension here is real, just as it is real in the lives of millions of Americans, whether the Hollywood inner-circle likes it or not.
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Ambitious and mostly a success.
James B.21 November 1999
I liked this film. It tells the real-life story of Dorothy Day, who founded the "Catholic Worker" newspaper and relief agency for the poor in New York City during the Depression. Moira Kelly gives a very good performance as Day. The story follows her quest to find her way in life, ultimately leading to her helping thousands of people and providing a role model for activists.

The film contains a scene where Kelly says one of the most quotable lines ever: "If you feed the poor, you're called a saint. If you ask why they're poor, you're called a Communist." Kelly says this during a scene when she is responding to people who resist her search for the truth through her newspaper. Americans who are concerned with political freedom and justice should keep this statement in mind - it is especially salient today.

That said, there are flaws in "Entertaining Angels." Kelly's performance as the younger Dorothy Day is great, but in the film Day is supposed gradually to look older, and this aging process isn't convincing. Martin Sheen also has a part as a wandering, Christ-like, populist preacher. He's OK here, but his Inspector Clouseau-like French accent won't be on his career retrospective videotape. Also, the film might have bitten off more than it can chew. It could have used a bigger budget and a more professional cast.

Overall, though, this one is well worth a rental. I'm a big Moira Kelly fan, too. I hope she will be around a long time.
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Inspiring! Moving! Excellent!
mbell-28 July 1999
Entertaining Angels goes through the hard life of the converted Catholic Workers Movement leader Dorothy Day, portrayed by the extremely talented Moira Kelly. This movie is great even for people who don't know who Dorothy Day is. This movie is very excellent. If you like this movie you will probably like the Emmy nominated CBS movie Joan of Arc ( Peter O'Toole and Leelee Sobieski), and the Zeffirelli film Brother Sun, Sister Moon.
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Moira Kelly Delivers Another Inspired Performance!!
MastXVII4 January 1999
Wow. Those of you who haven't had a chance to see Moira Kelly are really missing out on a truly great talent. Ever since I first saw her on The Cutting Edge, I've really looked up to her admirable character and her obvious acting talent. As Dorothy Day, she manages to take upon a tremendously difficult role and she succeeds beyond all expectations. The screenplay is well written, and while it does lead off the main drive of the story at times, Kelly is always there to provide a cohesive nature to to it which keeps the entire thing together. I really enjoyed this film -- I really didn't find the religious overtones to be a problem as a few of the reviews out there seemed to suggest. I hope you give it a try. You'll be glad you did. And, oh yeah... she's got a nice singing voice, too.
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A Sincere Effort
johcafra7 October 2013
...and as good an introduction as I could hope to someone who had to have been a complex person.

I'd only heard of Dorothy Day before I viewed this movie at a Catholic retreat house run by the Redemptorists.

I suspect the producers felt they could go only so far with the subject matter, but they paid attention. The fact that they even tried reflects well on them.

Moira Kelly credibly kept my attention throughout. I could recognize Melinda Dillon, Heather Graham, Brian Keith and Martin Sheen among the other players, but that's not to slight the large cast that truly worked as an ensemble.

I'll doubtless learn more, and plan that by reading Day's autobiography "The Long Loneliness" and her account of the Catholic Worker movement, "Loaves and Fishes".

Any film that inspires me to learn more about its subject earns my respect.
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Catholic Workers
bkoganbing20 January 2017
Looking astonishingly like the women she portrays Moira Kelly gives a great performance as Dorothy Day who with the Catholic Worker movement managed to combine Karl Marx and Jesus Christ. She came to believe that man shall not live by bread alone, but bread was certainly essential. A radical doctrine for that hidebound institution known as the Roman Catholic Church.

When we first meet Dorothy Day she's a most militant suffragette and she's out there hanging out with a crowd that Warren Beatty introduced us to in Reds. They all went their separate ways be it John Reed to Russia, Eugene O'Neill to the theater. At some point Day came to believe that humankind had a soul and a spiritual hunger that the Communist Manifesto was not addressing.

She will never be considered for sainthood, she was not the type to whom sainthood is granted. She had her share of lovers, she had a child and it's not too clear whether she was married to Lenny Von Dohlen or not when their daughter was born. But if deeds is the measure she should qualify.

Brian Keith has a role and he's simply identified as the Cardinal. In fact he's Cardinal Patrick Hayes of the New York Archdiocese and while not 100% supportive was indulgent. Cardinal Hayes did quite a lot spending much of the Archdiocese's own funds to help in relief. He died in late 1938. His successor was Cardinal Francis Spellman who had he been in charge no doubt would have squelched her movement. But Catholic Workers was a fait accompli when he took over and he gave her a wide berth and her do her thing while he did his vigorous anti-Communist thing.

In fact in their scene Keith does mention that he is distressed she associates with these anti-clerical elements who are sympathetic to the Spanish Republic. She doesn't give an inch. The scene with Keith and Kelly is the high point of the film.

No sainthood for Dorothy Day, but the love and respect of millions whom she served. Really fine biographical film.
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Goes along with the movie THE WAY if you don't mind Martin SHeen. I love his work here
jonbee2236 April 2016
Helpful to see the life of a person now beatified. Sainthood pending. I suspect the most informative information about her is in the FBI files, from the years she was agitating for the Female vote, and for a Social security underlying our economy. Pretty clear things haven't changed.

The best of this is a view into how the errors she became painfully aware of were removed by the Grace she experienced. "You are no Marxist" is a good line. The movie nowhere mentions Therese of Liseaux who died a few years before Dorothy was born. Dorothy Day wrote the biographies for Therese of the Little Flowers parents. Like others I would like to see the movement clarified in another movie: what happened to the kids who were raised along side the poor.
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Moira Kelly Does Not Disappoint As Dorothy Day
Desertman8417 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story is an independent film that tells the story of the life of Dorothy Day,a journalist who turned into becoming a social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper.She is known to be the American Mother Teresa.Moira Kelly stars in the title role together with Heather Graham, Lenny Von Dohlen and Martin Sheen.

The year is 1917.In it,we see Dorothy Day hanging out with notorious liberals such as Eugene O'Neal and working as a politically active radical journalist.They are working together in supporting the implementation of the women's right to vote.We also see her drinking and free loving that he later found herself pregnant.This results into an abortion which traumatized her and consumed her with guilt.She later found herself to become a single mom bearing a daughter from another relationship.This led to a change in direction after she meets Sister Aloyisius and becoming a Roman Catholic after being an atheist all her life.Later she and her child,move to Manhattan where she begins working with the needy while trying to reestablish her career as a journalist.She co-founds The Catholic Worker, a newspaper dedicated to her new cause and to criticizing the rigid class distinctions of the Establishment that only serve to keep the poor oppressed and hopeless.

It was a great movie.Despite the fact that it spends a lot of the time during Day's younger years instead of her years as a renewed Catholic,we get to see a great performance from Moira She was able to translate Day's combative nature and the yearning for meaning in life that made her convert into Catholicism.Also,her fight for for social justice, civil rights, and disarmament as well as her incredible struggles for it were also in it.It would have been better if it went to that direction more instead of Day's young life as a wild drinker.But overall,it still is a good portrayal of her on screen.
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