The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of all Time.

by Tomas Viluckas | created - 19 Oct 2013 | updated - 19 Oct 2013 | Public

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)

Passed | 106 min | Drama, Western

When 3 outlaws on the run find a dying woman and her newborn baby in the desert they vow to save the child.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz, Harry Carey Jr., Ward Bond

Votes: 7,012

2. The Age of Innocence (1993)

PG | 139 min | Drama, Romance

83 Metascore

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.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Linda Faye Farkas

Votes: 41,349 | Gross: $32.20M

3. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan

Votes: 17,602

4. The Assisi Underground (1985)

PG | 115 min | Drama, History, War

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.

Director: Alexander Ramati | Stars: Ben Cross, James Mason, Irene Papas, Maximilian Schell

Votes: 269

5. Au Revoir les Enfants (1987)

PG | 104 min | Drama, War

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.

Director: Louis Malle | Stars: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö, Francine Racette, Stanislas Carré de Malberg

Votes: 26,940 | Gross: $4.54M

6. Babette's Feast (1987)

G | 103 min | Drama

During the late 19th century, a strict religious community in a Danish village takes in a French refugee from the Franco-Prussian War as a servant to the late pastor's daughters.

Director: Gabriel Axel | Stars: Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Birgitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle

Votes: 15,567 | Gross: $4.40M

7. Bachelor Mother (1939)

Approved | 82 min | Comedy, Romance

An unemployed woman discovers an abandoned baby on the steps of an orphanage, and accepts an offer to take responsibility for the child in return for a job.

Director: Garson Kanin | Stars: Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson

Votes: 3,056

8. Late Spring (1949)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama

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.

Director: Yasujirô Ozu | Stars: Chishû Ryû, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka, Haruko Sugimura

Votes: 11,093

9. Ben-Hur (1959)

G | 212 min | Adventure, Drama, History

90 Metascore

When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

Director: William Wyler | Stars: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd, Haya Harareet

Votes: 191,290 | Gross: $74.70M

10. Casablanca (1942)

PG | 102 min | Drama, Romance, War

100 Metascore

A cynical nightclub owner protects an old flame and her husband from Nazis in Morocco.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

Votes: 449,247 | Gross: $1.02M

11. The Champ (I) (1931)

Passed | 86 min | Drama, Sport

An alcoholic ex-boxer struggles to provide a good living for his son.

Director: King Vidor | Stars: Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Irene Rich, Roscoe Ates

Votes: 2,283

12. Chariots of Fire (1981)

PG | 125 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

78 Metascore

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Director: Hugh Hudson | Stars: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers

Votes: 46,580 | Gross: $58.97M

13. City Lights (1931)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers

Votes: 134,959 | Gross: $0.02M

14. El Cid (1961)

Approved | 182 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

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.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone, Geneviève Page

Votes: 11,091 | Gross: $26.62M

15. Going My Way (1944)

Passed | 126 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

Father Charles O'Mailey, a young priest at a financially failing Church in a tough neighborhood, gains support and inspires his superior.

Director: Leo McCarey | Stars: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown

Votes: 8,753 | Gross: $16.30M

16. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama, History

95 Metascore

A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin

Votes: 76,895

17. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 512,674 | Gross: $70.91M

18. Ikiru (1952)

Not Rated | 143 min | Drama

A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka

Votes: 54,298 | Gross: $0.06M

19. The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)

Not Rated | 137 min | Biography, Drama, History

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.

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini | Stars: Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini, Marcello Morante

Votes: 9,003

20. It Happened One Night (1934)

Not Rated | 105 min | Comedy, Romance

87 Metascore

A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns

Votes: 79,932

21. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

PG | 130 min | Drama, Family, Fantasy

89 Metascore

An angel is sent from Heaven to help a desperately frustrated businessman by showing him what life would have been like if he had never existed.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 330,542 | Gross: $7.27M

22. Diary of a Country Priest (1951)

Approved | 95 min | Drama

A young priest taking over the parish at Ambricourt tries to fulfill his duties even as he fights a mysterious stomach ailment.

Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: Claude Laydu, Nicole Ladmiral, Jean Riveyre, Adrien Borel

Votes: 7,795

23. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

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.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 29,750 | Gross: $0.17M

24. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

Not Rated | 114 min | Biography, Drama, History

In 1431, Jeanne d'Arc is placed on trial on charges of heresy. The ecclesiastical jurists attempt to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz

Votes: 37,067 | Gross: $0.02M

25. The Last Supper (1976)

120 min | Drama

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.

Director: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea | Stars: Nelson Villagra, Silvano Rey, Luis Alberto García, José Antonio Rodríguez

Votes: 470

26. Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Not Rated | 89 min | Drama

In post-war Italy, a working-class man's bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

Director: Vittorio De Sica | Stars: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Elena Altieri

Votes: 117,080 | Gross: $0.33M

27. My Night at Maud's (1969)

GP | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

The rigid principles of a devout Catholic man are challenged during a one-night stay with Maud, a divorced woman with an outsize personality.

Director: Éric Rohmer | Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Françoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault, Antoine Vitez

Votes: 8,206

28. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

G | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

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 remarry.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Robert Shaw, Leo McKern

Votes: 26,581 | Gross: $28.35M

29. The Miracle Worker (1962)

Not Rated | 106 min | Biography, Drama

The story of Anne Sullivan's struggle to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke, Victor Jory, Inga Swenson

Votes: 13,856

30. Nazarin (1959)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama

A priest in a poor community lives a charitable life in accordance with his religious principles, but many others do not return the favor.

Director: Luis Buñuel | Stars: Francisco Rabal, Marga López, Rita Macedo, Ignacio López Tarso

Votes: 4,222

31. North by Northwest (1959)

Not Rated | 136 min | Adventure, Mystery, Thriller

98 Metascore

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.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis

Votes: 256,650 | Gross: $13.28M

32. On the Waterfront (1954)

Not Rated | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

88 Metascore

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director: Elia Kazan | Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger

Votes: 121,305 | Gross: $9.60M

33. Pickpocket (1959)

Not Rated | 76 min | Crime, Drama

Michel is released from jail after serving a sentence for thievery. His mother dies and he resorts to pickpocketing as a means of survival.

Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri, Dolly Scal

Votes: 15,838

34. Pinocchio (1940)

G | 88 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.

Directors: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc, Don Brodie

Votes: 107,384 | Gross: $84.25M

35. The Quiet Man (1952)

Not Rated | 129 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond

Votes: 30,175 | Gross: $10.55M

36. Quiz Show (1994)

PG-13 | 133 min | Biography, Drama, History

88 Metascore

A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation.

Director: Robert Redford | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Paul Scofield

Votes: 58,682 | Gross: $24.82M

37. Rome, Open City (1945)

Not Rated | 103 min | Drama, Thriller, War

During the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, the Resistance leader, Giorgio Manfredi, is chased by the Nazis as he seeks refuge and a way to escape.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Stars: Anna Magnani, Aldo Fabrizi, Marcello Pagliero, Vito Annichiarico

Votes: 19,113

38. The Sign of the Cross (1932)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama, History

A Roman soldier becomes torn between his love for a Christian woman and his loyalty to Emperor Nero.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille | Stars: Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Elissa Landi, Charles Laughton

Votes: 1,700

39. The Song of Bernadette (1943)

Approved | 156 min | Biography, Drama

In 1858 France, Bernadette, an adolescent peasant girl, has a vision of "a beautiful lady" in the city dump. She never claims it to be anything other than this, but the townspeople all ... See full summary »

Director: Henry King | Stars: Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, William Eythe, Vincent Price

Votes: 5,195

40. Thérèse (1986)

94 min | Drama

The life of little St. Therese of Lisieux, depicted in minimalist vignettes. Therese and her sisters are all nuns in a Carmelite convent. Her devotion to Jesus and her concept of "the ... See full summary »

Director: Alain Cavalier | Stars: Catherine Mouchet, Hélène Alexandridis, Aurore Prieto, Clémence Massart-Weit

Votes: 719

41. Three Colors: Blue (1993)

R | 98 min | Drama, Music, Mystery

85 Metascore

A woman struggles to find a way to live her life after the death of her husband and child.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Stars: Juliette Binoche, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Benoît Régent

Votes: 72,639 | Gross: $1.32M

42. Three Colors: Red (1994)

R | 99 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

100 Metascore

A model discovers her neighbor is keen on invading people's privacy.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Stars: Irène Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Frédérique Feder, Jean-Pierre Lorit

Votes: 74,661 | Gross: $4.04M

43. Three Colors: White (1994)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

88 Metascore

After his wife divorces him, a Polish immigrant plots to get even with her.

Director: Krzysztof Kieslowski | Stars: Zbigniew Zamachowski, Julie Delpy, Janusz Gajos, Jerzy Stuhr

Votes: 51,712 | Gross: $1.46M

44. A Man Escaped (1956)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama

A captured French Resistance fighter during WWII engineers a daunting escape from a Nazi prison in France.

Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod

Votes: 14,703

45. Vertigo (1958)

PG | 128 min | Mystery, Romance, Thriller

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.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore

Votes: 299,343 | Gross: $3.20M

46. Journey to Italy (1954)

Not Rated | 97 min | Drama, Romance

100 Metascore

An unhappily married couple attempts to find direction and insight while vacationing in Naples.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Stars: Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders, Maria Mauban, Anna Proclemer

Votes: 6,856

47. You Can't Take It with You (1938)

Passed | 126 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold

Votes: 20,075