Vatican Best Films List

by majfoalbkeopaza | created - 23 Sep 2016 | updated - 02 Jun 2018 | Public


On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of cinema in 1995, the Vatican compiled this list of "great films." The 45 movies are divided into three categories: "Religion," "Values" and "Art." The USCC classification for each film follows its description.


All of the descriptions, including the above paragraph, are quoted from the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website, archived here: http://web.archive.org/web/20131029191543/http://old.usccb.org/movies/vaticanfilms.shtml

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1. Andrei Rublev (1966)

R | 205 min | Biography, Drama, History

The life, times and afflictions of the fifteenth-century Russian iconographer St. Andrei Rublev.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolay Grinko, Nikolay Sergeev

Votes: 39,984 | Gross: $0.10M

Religion

Russian production about a 15th-century monk (Anatoli Solonitzine) who perseveres in painting icons and other religious art despite the civil disruptions and cruel turmoil of his times. Director Andrei Tarkovsky visualizes brilliantly the story of a devout man seeking through his art to find the transcendent in the savagery of the Tartar invasions and the unfeeling brutality of Russian nobles. Subtitles. Stylized historical violence. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Fox Lorber, $79.95)

2. 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: 16,620 | Gross: $4.40M

Religion

Screen version of a story by Isak Dinesen, set in a rugged fishing village in 1871 Denmark, shows the impact of a French housekeeper (Stephane Audran) on two pious sisters who carry on their late father's work as pastor of a dwindling religious flock. Danish director Gabriel Axel's understated but finely detailed work centers on the preparation and consumption of an exquisite Gallic meal, a sensuous labor of love which has a healing effect on the austere sect and the Frenchwoman who prepared it. Subtitles. Cerebral treatment. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (Orion, $19.98)

3. 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: 204,064 | Gross: $74.70M

Religion

Director William Wyler's classic Hollywood epic follows the Jewish prince of the title (Charlton Heston) after he's betrayed by his boyhood Roman friend (Stephen Boyd) and subjected to much misery until finally achieving retribution for all his suffering. The narrative's conventional melodrama is transformed by the grand scale of its spectacle, especially the chariot race, and by the stirring performances of its principals who manage to overcome the story's cliches and stereotypes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (MGM/UA, $29.98)

4. The Flowers of St. Francis (1950)

Not Rated | 85 min | Biography, Drama, History

A series of vignettes depicting the lives of the original Franciscan monks, including their leader and the bumbling Ginepro.

Director: Roberto Rossellini | Stars: Aldo Fabrizi, Gianfranco Bellini, Peparuolo, Severino Pisacane

Votes: 2,915

Religion

Remarkable Italian production about the beginnings of the Franciscan Order as its founder sets the example of humility, simplicity and obedience for his first followers at Portiuncula, a little chapel near Assisi, from which they depart into the world to preach peace. Directed by Roberto Rossellini from a script co-written with Federico Fellini, the movie's form is as simple and sincere as the subject of the narrative which relates a series of little incidents realistically, yet with an infectious sense of joy marvellously conveyed by an anonymous cast of monks from a Roman monastery. Subtitles. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Facets Multimedia, $34.95)

5. Francesco (1989)

PG-13 | 119 min | Biography, Drama, History

Docudrama about the life of St-Francis of Assisi.

Director: Liliana Cavani | Stars: Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Andréa Ferréol, Nikolaus Dutsch

Votes: 1,247

Religion

Overwrought Italian production portrays St. Francis of Assisi (Mickey Rourke) as a spiritual agitator challenging the accepted values of his 13th-century contemporaries by embracing a life of utter poverty and simplicity. Director Liliana Cavani builds an elaborate picture of the period's social injustices but fails to evoke any convincing sense of religious conviction from Rourke's embarrassingly vacuous performance. English-language version. Occasional scenes of violence, desperate poverty and brief nudity. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Hemdale, $89.95)

6. 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: 9,751

Religion

Straight-forward Italian dramatization of the evangelist's account of the life of Jesus and His message of salvation succeeds exceptionally well in placing the viewer within the Gospel events, avoiding the artificiality of most biblical movie epics. Director Pier Paolo Pasolini is completely faithful to the text while employing the visual imagination necessary for his realistic interpretation. Subtitles. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Water Bearer, $24.95)

7. The Passion Play (1903)

44 min | Short, Biography, Drama

The story of Jesus Christ from the proclamation of his Nativity to his crucifixion. Impressive scenes and dynamism of the actors prelude to the Italian colossal movies of the silent period.

Directors: Lucien Nonguet, Ferdinand Zecca | Stars: Madame Moreau, Monsieur Moreau

Votes: 367

Religion

Though better known for one-reel crime melodramas, movie pioneer Ferdinand Zecca (1863-1947) also produced this two-reel (c. 30 minutes) dramatization of Christ's Passion. Distributed by Pathe, France's leading motion picture company, it was reportedly quite popular in its time and was notable, according to film historian Georges Sadoul, for its "rudimentary" camera movements. (Not available on video)

8. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

G | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

72 Metascore

The story of Sir 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: 28,598 | Gross: $28.35M

Religion

Engrossing drama of the last seven years in the life of Thomas More, Henry VIII's chancellor, who met a martyr's death rather than compromise his conscience during a period of religious turmoil. Robert Bolt's script is masterfully directed by Fred Zinnemann, with a standout performance by Paul Scofield in the title role, among other notable performances from a uniformly fine cast. The historical dramatization achieves an authentic human dimension that makes its 16th-century events more accessible and its issues more universal. Profoundly entertaining but heavy-going for children. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (Columbia TriStar, $19.95)

9. The Mission (1986)

PG | 125 min | Adventure, Drama, History

55 Metascore

Eighteenth century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal.

Director: Roland Joffé | Stars: Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Ray McAnally, Aidan Quinn

Votes: 52,153 | Gross: $17.22M

Religion

In the 1750s, the large and prosperous Jesuit Indian missions were divided between Spain and Portugal. In dramatizing these events, Robert Bolt's screenplay focuses not on the religous but on the sociopolitical dimension of the colonial era and its injustices. The epic production is visually splendid but Roland Joffe's direction is erratic and bogs down in contrasting a nonviolent priest (Jeremy Irons) and one (Robert De Niro) who leads the Indians against a colonial army. Although dramatically flawed, the work recalls a past that provides a context for current Latin American struggles. Some violence and ethnographic nudity. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Warner, $19.98)

10. Monsieur Vincent (1947)

Not Rated | 111 min | Biography, Drama, History

St. Vincent de Paul struggles to bring about peace and harmony among the peasant and the nobles in the midst of the Black Death in Europe, carrying on his charitable work in the face of all obstacles.

Director: Maurice Cloche | Stars: Pierre Fresnay, Aimé Clariond, Jean Debucourt, Lise Delamare

Votes: 638

Religion

Lucid, moving account of St. Vincent de Paul's work among the poor and the oppressed in 17th-century France, from his first labors in a plague-ravaged village and his appeals to the conscience of the aristocracy to the founding of an order devoted to charitable works and his death in 1660. Director Maurice Cloche portrays the poverty of the times and the cruelty of the regime in starkly convincing fashion, providing a solid historical framework within which Pierre Fresnay's performance in the title role shines with a warm compassion and spiritual intensity which most viewers will find irresistably compelling. Subtitles. High on the list of great religious movies. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia, $29.95)

11. 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: 4,646

Religion

Mexican story set in 1905 when a young priest comes into disfavor with his inflexible religious superiors, the civil authorities and even the poor among whom he tries to live a life of simplicity, poverty and charity. Though director Luis Bunuel's work is not very optimistic about the possibility of idealism winning over the world, it's not critical of religion, only pious hypocrisy. Subtitles. Perplexing themes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Connoisseur, $69.95)

12. Ordet (1955)

Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, Fantasy

Follows the lives of the Borgen family, as they deal with inner conflict, as well as religious conflict with each other, and the rest of the town.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer | Stars: Henrik Malberg, Emil Hass Christensen, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Hanne Aagesen

Votes: 12,451

Religion

Challenging Danish production about different kinds of faith and various sorts of miracles, one of which restores a dead woman to life. Directed by Carl Dreyer, the austere narrative centers on a farming family troubled by the madness of a son (Preben Lerdorff Rye) who believes he is Jesus Christ until, regaining his balance, his faith in God achieves the miracle which brings the story to a positive though less than convincing conclusion some may find disappointingly ambiguous. Mature themes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia, $24.95)

13. 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: 41,652 | Gross: $0.02M

Religion

Silent screen masterpiece portraying the heresy trial, confession, recantation and execution of the Maid of Orleans (Maria Falconetti) in a performance of such emotional power that it still stands as the most convincing portrayal of spirituality on celluloid. Directed by Carl Dreyer, the work is essentially the interior epic of a soul, consisting largely of close-ups of Joan's face and those of her interrogators accomplished in a fashion which is never static as the camera explores the inner struggle between human frailities and spiritual strength. Some duplicitous churchmen, medicinal bloodletting and a restrained torture scene. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia, $29.95)

14. The Sacrifice (1986)

PG | 149 min | Drama

At the dawn of World War III, a man searches for a way to restore peace to the world and finds he must give something in return.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky | Stars: Erland Josephson, Susan Fleetwood, Allan Edwall, Guðrún Gísladóttir

Votes: 20,632 | Gross: $0.30M

Religion

Swedish production in which a group of adults and a child pass through a night of confusion and fear, including portents of a nuclear-devastated landscape. Director Andrei Tarkovsky's murky religious allegory about an aging writer's bargaining with God to save others relies upon long silences, ritualized dialogue and beautiful but static photography. Subtitles. A very personal film about love and compassion, the effect is strangely cold and distant. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Pacific Arts, $29.95)

15. 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: 755

Religion

French dramatization of the life of St. Therese de Lisieux from age 15 when she joined a cloistered convent of Carmelite nuns to her death there 9 years later of tuberculosis. Director Alain Cavalier's impressionistic account of the young woman (luminously portrayed by Catherine Mouchet) who found personal joy, spiritual liberation and the sanctity of selfless simplicity within the restrictive traditions of an austere religious community will challenge contemporary viewers and confound some. The young may find its picture of 19th-century religious life more confusing than inspiring. Dubbed in English. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Palisades Home Video, 1-800-989-8576, $39.95)

16. 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: 28,541 | Gross: $4.54M

Values

When the Gestapo discover that a priest has hidden three Jewish youths in a Catholic boys' school, he and the boys are arrested and deported to concentration camps. French writer-producer-director Louis Malle re-creates a painful memory from his own youth in a restrained, humbling, well-acted dramatization of a boy's firsthand experience of the Holocaust. Subtitles. Some rough language. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Orion, $19.98)

17. 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: 130,573 | Gross: $0.33M

Values

Simple yet compelling study in desperation as a worker (Lamberto Maggiorani) must find his stolen bicycle or lose his new job. Ignored by the police and others, the man and his young son (Enzo Staiola) search the streets for it until, in despair, he himself tries to steal a bicycle. Scripted by Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica, the result is an engrossing picture of the human realities of life on the edge of poverty, shot on the streets of Rome with a cast of non-professionals that brought a new realism to the postwar screen and a new emotional honesty to the stories it told. Subtitles. Some earthy references. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia Family, $69.95)

18. The Burmese Harp (1956)

Not Rated | 116 min | Drama, Music, War

In the War's closing days, when a conscience-driven Japanese soldier fails to get his countrymen to surrender to overwhelming force, he adopts the lifestyle of a Buddhist monk.

Director: Kon Ichikawa | Stars: Rentarô Mikuni, Shôji Yasui, Tatsuya Mihashi, Jun Hamamura

Votes: 4,979

Values

Badly wounded in Burma at the end of World War II, a Japanese soldier (Shoji Yasui) is nursed back to health by a Buddhist monk, then devotes himself to searching the jungle battlefields for the abandoned remains of dead soldiers to give them a decent burial. Directed by Kon Ichikawa, the Japanese production takes a strong anti-war stance through a series of flashbacks to the horrors of battle, but uses hauntingly poetic imagery to convey the main theme of life's value and the need to atone for its loss. Subtitles. Wartime violence. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Connoisseur, $29.95)

19. 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: 50,007 | Gross: $58.97M

Values

Two young Englishmen (Ben Cross and Ian Charleson) overcome quite different obstacles to win gold medals at the Paris Olympics of 1924. One is a Jew determined to beat the anti-Semitic establishment at its own game and the other is a devout Scot who runs for the glory of God. Directed by Hugh Hudson, it is a richly entertaining and highly inspiring movie for the whole family. Several coarse words. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Warner, $19.98)

20. Dekalog (1989–1990)

TV-MA | 572 min | Drama

100 Metascore

Ten television drama films, each one based on one of the Ten Commandments.

Stars: Artur Barcis, Olgierd Lukaszewicz, Aleksander Bardini, Olaf Lubaszenko

Votes: 19,038 | Gross: $0.10M

Values

Produced for Polish television, this series of ten hour-long programs explores the contemporary meaning of the Ten Commandments as seen in the lives of various residents of a drab Warsaw apartment complex. Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, none of the stories is religious though all grapple with moral conflicts arising from ordinary situations and relationships which most viewers will not see as being at all foreign to them. Subtitles. Mature themes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Available on video)

21. Dersu Uzala (1975)

G | 142 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

The Russian army sends an explorer on an expedition to the snowy Siberian wilderness where he makes friends with a seasoned local hunter.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Maksim Munzuk, Yuriy Solomin, Mikhail Bychkov, Vladimir Khrulyov

Votes: 21,435

Values

Russian production about the friendship that grows between a turn-of-the-century explorer in Siberia and his guide, an aging Tungus hunter whose name gives the film its title. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa concentrates on evoking the vast remoteness of the Siberian wilderness, a world the Russian finds forbidding but one in which the hunter is perfectly at home. Subtitles. Finely acted, beautifully photographed, it is an admiring portrait of a man living in harmony with nature and with his fellow hunters. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (Sultan, $29.98)

22. Gandhi (1982)

PG | 191 min | Biography, Drama, History

79 Metascore

Gandhi's character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent. And the stubborn nature of Jinnah and his commitment towards Pakistan is portrayed.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth

Votes: 209,216 | Gross: $52.77M

Values

Superb portrait of India's great political and spiritual leader comes to life in Ben Kingsley's authoritative yet sensitive performance. Director Richard Attenborough's epic-scale production re-creates Gandhi's life and times, especially his use of non-violence and hunger strikes to bring together the diverse peoples of India and unify them as a nation. Though its scenes of violence are not for children, the movie's vision of justice and peace is for everyone else, especially young people. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. (Columbia TriStar, $29.95)

23. Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

Passed | 197 min | Drama, History

92 Metascore

The story of a poor young woman, separated by prejudice from her husband and baby, is interwoven with tales of intolerance from throughout history.

Director: D.W. Griffith | Stars: Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh, F.A. Turner

Votes: 13,020 | Gross: $2.18M

Values

D.W. Griffith's epic masterpiece intercuts four stories of injustice -- the fall of Babylon, the Crucifixion, the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre and a contemporary American story of an innocent man sentenced to death. The movie develops parallel action in each of the stories, though centered principally on the tale of an impoverished couple whose wife tries to save her husband from being unjustly hung and the Assyrian conquest of Babylon which is presented on an epic scale. Though complex in narrative structure, each story is connected to the others by the simple image of a woman rocking a cradle, a device dropped as the tempo increases in the conclusion of the stories. The movie's brilliance in concept, execution and editing is still impressive, dated only by its florid titles and melodramatic characterizations. Stylized violence, sexual references and a few flashes of nudity. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino, $29.95)

24. 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: 363,127

Values

Seasonal favorite about the joys and trials of a good man (James Stewart) who, facing financial ruin on the eve of Christmas, contemplates suicide until his guardian angel (Henry Travers) shows him how meaningful his life has been to those around him. Director Frank Capra's unabashedly sentimental picture of mainstream American life is bolstered by a superb cast (including Lionel Barrymore as a conniving banker) and a wealth of good feelings about such commonplace virtues as hard work and helping one's neighbor. Young children may find the story's dark moments unsettling. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Republic, 45th Anniversary Edition, $19.98)

25. On the Waterfront (1954)

Not Rated | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

91 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: 130,675 | Gross: $9.60M

Values

Classic labor film about a punched-out boxer (Marlon Brando) who, despite the machinations of his shifty brother (Rod Steiger) and with some encouragement from the woman (Eva Marie Saint) he loves as well as a waterfront priest (Karl Malden), decides to stand up to the criminal boss (Lee J. Cobb) of a corrupt union of dock workers. Budd Schulberg's fact-based script is directed by Elia Kazan with stand-out performances and a gritty realism grounded in a working-class milieu, abetted by Leonard Bernstein's rousing score and Boris Kauffman's atmospheric photography. Much menace and some violence. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Columbia TriStar, $19.95)

26. 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: 20,828

Values

Composite picture of the resistance movement in German-occupied Rome focusing on an underground leader (Marcello Pagliero) hidden by a widow (Anna Magnani) until he's betrayed to the Gestapo, then tortured and executed along with a partisan priest (Aldo Fabrizi). Director Roberto Rossellini began filming while German troops were still in the city and the result has a documentary quality giving a sense of immediacy to the period portrayal of events by a cast whose naturalistic acting captures the fervor and determination of diverse social types united in their opposition to fascism. Subtitles. Wartime violence and some intense torture scenes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Kino, $24.95)

27. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

94 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 1,108,140 | Gross: $96.90M

Values

Sobering account of an opportunistic German businesssman (Liam Neeson) out to make his fortune by exploiting Jewish labor in occupied Poland but the increasing barbarism of Nazi racial policies and the sadistic perversions of the local commandant (Ralph Fiennes) cause him to risk his life trying to save the Jews in his employ. Director Steven Spielberg restages this Holocaust story on an epic scale that gives horrifying dimension to one man's attempt to save some innocent lives, though providing little insight in the German's moral transformation or the individual lives of his Jewish workers. Realistically graphic treatment of an infamous historical period and its crimes against humanity, a few discreet sexual scenes and occasional rough language. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. (MCA/Universal, $29.98)

28. The Seventh Seal (1957)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Fantasy

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe

Votes: 146,102

Values

Intense medieval morality tale about a disillusioned knight (Max Von Sydow) returning from the Crusades to a plague-ravaged land where he forestalls Death (Bengt Ekerot) by wagering his life on a game of chess during the course of which he saves a traveling player named Joseph (Nils Poppe), his wife Mary (Bibi Andersson) and their infant son. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman convincingly re-creates the religious context of the Middle Ages but the knight's quest to find meaning in a world of physical suffering and spiritual emptiness is more directly related to the contemporary search for life's meaning in our own age of doubt and uncertainty. Subtitles. Recurring images of death, some stylized violence and instances of religious fanaticism. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Video Dimensions, $19.95)

29. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (1978)

Not Rated | 186 min | Drama, History

Peasant life in a feudal farm in rural Italy at the end of the 19th century.

Director: Ermanno Olmi | Stars: Luigi Ornaghi, Francesca Moriggi, Omar Brignoli, Antonio Ferrari

Votes: 4,774

Values

Quiet, richly textured Italian drama about the lives of four peasant families who work as tenant farmers on a Lombardy estate at the end of the last century. Beginning with the fall harvest and ending with the spring planting, the movie depicts the everyday life of rural people who endure with human dignity in spite of the oppressive system which exploits their labor. Written, photographed and directed by Ermanno Olmi, this is a loving portrait of ordinary life in an age of social injustice. Some tense scenes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Fox/Lorber, $79.95)

30. Wild Strawberries (1957)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama, Romance

After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor is forced to confront the emptiness of his existence.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand

Votes: 85,760

Values

During the day on which he is to be awarded an honorary degree from a nearby university, a 78-year-old retired scholar (Victor Sjostrom in a masterful performance) is visited with dreams and reveries about his past life, especially his failures and disappointments in personal relationships. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman brilliantly develops the man's interior journey from pangs of regret and anxiety to a refreshing sense of peace and reconciliation summed up in blissful images of his happy youth. One of the great films about aging that touches universal chords in mature viewers. English subtitles. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Connoisseur, $29.95)

31. Citizen Kane (1941)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Mystery

100 Metascore

Following the death of publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of his final utterance; 'Rosebud'.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead

Votes: 368,790 | Gross: $1.59M

Art

When a Hearst-like newspaper tycoon (Orson Welles) dies, a reporter (William Alland) interviews the man's former associates (Joseph Cotton and Everett Sloane among them) and wives (Ruth Warrick and Dorothy Comingore) in an effort to pin down the essence of the contradictory, larger-than-life millionaire by discovering the meaning of his dying word, "Rosebud." Also co-written (with Herman J. Mankiewicz), produced and directed by Welles, the movie is a landmark in American cinema, notable both for its superb use of film technique and its intriguing story of a man who came from nothing, acquired fame and fortune but died without the love he sought. Marital infidelity. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Turner, 50th Anniversary Edition includes a 30-minute documentary on the movie, $19.98)

32. (1963)

Not Rated | 138 min | Drama

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo

Votes: 100,547 | Gross: $0.05M

Art

With both career and marriage in chaos, an Italian movie director (Marcello Mastroianni) protects his overgrown ego by retreating into surreal memories of the past and wild fantasies about the present. Director Federico Fellini has some self-indulgent fun with his profession, semibiographical events from his youth and themes from his movies while taking viewers on a journey through the rich, at times bizarre, imagination of an artist whose attempts to cope with the demands of the real world are resolved in a final flood of optimism as the director joins with all his characters in a human carousel of life. Subtitles. Ambiguous treatment of mature themes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-IV -- adults, with reservations. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Vestron, $69.95)

33. Fantasia (1940)

G | 125 min | Animation, Family, Fantasy

96 Metascore

A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.

Directors: James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe Jr., Norman Ferguson, David Hand, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Ben Sharpsteen | Stars: Leopold Stokowski, Deems Taylor, Corey Burton, Walt Disney

Votes: 82,757 | Gross: $76.41M

Art

Walt Disney's only excursion into the world of the fine arts presents eight selections of classical music, including Dukas' "Sorcerer's Apprentice" with Mickey Mouse and a bucket brigade of brooms, Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" with its massive, earthbound images and the macabre vision of Musorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain." Using different approaches and animation styles for each piece of music as performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under conductor Leopold Stokowski, the imaginative work was not only Disney's most ambitious undertaking but it remains an enjoyably creative introduction to fine music, especially for youngsters. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (Disney, $24.99)

34. 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: 31,381 | Gross: $0.17M

Art

Shot down during World War I, a French aristocrat (Pierre Fresnay) is treated as a brother officer by the German aristocrat (Erich von Stroheim) commanding the prisoner-of-war camp, then makes use of his special status to distract attention while two fellow prisoners (Jean Gabin and Dalio) make good their escape to Switzerland. Directed by Jean Renoir, the picture of life in the camp is rich in narrative incident and human detail, neatly supporting a theme dealing with the end of the aristocratic ideal of chivalry and its replacement by mass armies of commoners with no desire for war. Subtitles. Some ribald humor and tense situations. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Home Vision, $29.95)

35. La Strada (1954)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama

A care-free girl is sold to a traveling entertainer, consequently enduring physical and emotional pain along the way.

Director: Federico Fellini | Stars: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani

Votes: 53,759

Art

Two-bit circus strongman (Anthony Quinn) adds a simple-minded peasant (Giulietta Masina) to his act, treating her badly until a tragic encounter with a bantering acrobat (Richard Basehart) who tries to help her. Italian director Federico Fellini's somber picture of lost souls on the backroads of life has its emotional center in Masina's Chaplinesque performance as the poor waif struggling to keep her spirit from being crushed by the brute she serves. Subtitles. Some stylized violence and brutalizing conditions of life. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Sultan, $29.98)

36. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Approved | 78 min | Comedy, Crime

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

Director: Charles Crichton | Stars: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass

Votes: 11,603

Art

British comedy classic in which a timid bank employee (Alec Guinness) concocts a scheme to hijack a shipment of gold bullion with the aid of professional crooks (Sidney James and Alfie Bass), then melt it down in the foundry of an accomodating sculptor (Stanley Holloway) and recast it as Eifel Tower souvenirs for export to Paris. Scripted by T.E.B. Clarke and directed by Charles Crichton, the tongue-in-cheek depiction of a perfect crime has one hilarious flaw after another, culminating in a wild police chase through London and a neat twist ending in South America. Comic crime caper and mild menace. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (HBO, $19.98)

37. The Leopard (1963)

PG | 186 min | Drama, History

100 Metascore

The Prince of Salina, a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity, tries to preserve his family and class amid the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860's Sicily.

Director: Luchino Visconti | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, Paolo Stoppa

Votes: 20,614

Art

Historical drama set against the background of Garibaldi's 1860 invasion of Sicily where the prince (Burt Lancaster) of an old aristocratic family refuses to adapt to revolutionary times despite the marriage of his more egalitarian nephew (Alain Delon) to the daughter of a wealthy ex-peasant. Directed by Luchino Visconti from the novel by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, the result captures a fascinating period of social, political and economic change in a family saga filled with nostalgia for a past, more elegant age. Subtitles. Mature themes. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Not available on video)

38. Little Women (1933)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Family, Romance

A chronicle of the lives of a group of sisters growing up in nineteenth-century America.

Director: George Cukor | Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas, Edna May Oliver

Votes: 5,650

Art

Lovingly sentimental but firmly crafted adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's story of four New England girls cared for by their mother while their father is soldiering in the Civil War. Director George Cukor depicts the joys and woes of the loving March family household with warmth and sincerity, but most memorable is the ensemble performance of a remarkable cast headed by Katharine Hepburn as serious-minded Jo, Joan Bennett as vain Amy, Frances Dee as prosaic Meg, Jean Parker as waifish Beth and Spring Byington as the girls' beloved Marmee. Prime family fare. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (MGM/UA, $14.98)

39. Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

98 Metascore

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Votes: 146,825 | Gross: $1.24M

Art

Silent classic of a future society ruled by an aristocracy living in luxury above ground while the workers suffer miserably underground, comforted only by the religious faith of a young woman (Brigitte Helm) in whose likeness a sinister scientist (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) fashions a robot inciting the workers to rebel but all ends in reconciliation. Directed by Fritz Lang, the story's melodramatic turns and woolly finale may be dated but not its vivid pictorial sense, grandly expressionistic decor and theme of social justice. Bleak picture of exploited workers, stylized violence and some sexual innuendo. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia, $16.95)

40. Modern Times (1936)

G | 87 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

96 Metascore

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin | Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford

Votes: 195,169 | Gross: $0.16M

Art

Charlie Chaplin's insightful fable of man versus machine centers in the artificiality of industrialized society and the anxieties caused by the Depression as Charlie dances his way through the hazards of an assembly line job. A model of silent comedic technique and refined slapstick humor, the movie marks the last appearance of the Little Tramp character as Charlie takes his final walk down the long empty road, this time in the company of Paulette Goddard who adds an element of freshness to the plot's old-fashioned romance. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (CBS/Fox, $19.98).

41. Napoleon (1927)

240 min | Biography, Drama, History

A film about the French general's youth and early military career.

Director: Abel Gance | Stars: Albert Dieudonné, Vladimir Roudenko, Edmond Van Daële, Alexandre Koubitzky

Votes: 6,331

Art

Epic silent chronicle of Napoleon Bonaparte (Albert Dieudonne) from his student days at a military academy through his rise as an officer during the Revolution and Reign of Terror until ending in 1796 when the Directory puts him in command of the army invading Italy. Directed by Abel Gance, the episodic narrative is heavily melodramatic, yet the sheer exhuberance of the actors and the monumental staging of the action carry viewers along in richly visual experience made memorable by Gance's innovative use of portable cameras and triple screens. This reconstructed print runs 235 minutes, with music composed by Carmine Coppola. Stylized violence and brief sexual innuendo. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (MCA/Universal, $29.95)

42. Nosferatu (1922)

Not Rated | 81 min | Fantasy, Horror

Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau | Stars: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder

Votes: 81,854

Art

Silent horror classic loosely based on Bram Stoker's novel, "Dracula," centers on the vampire count (Max Schreck) who leaves his sinister castle in the Carpathian mountains to sail on a doomed ship bringing him to 1838 Bremen where his dark deeds are undone by a brave young woman and the first light of dawn. Directed by F.W. Murnau, the German production is most notable for its eerie portrayal of the vampire in images which seem to personify evil and dread in a movie even more remarkable for having been filmed mostly on location rather than in the controlled confines of a studio. Stylized violence and menace. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Nostalgia, $19.95)

43. Stagecoach (1939)

Passed | 96 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

93 Metascore

A group of people traveling on a stagecoach find their journey complicated by the threat of Geronimo and learn something about each other in the process.

Director: John Ford | Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine

Votes: 38,882

Art

In this Western classic, a cowboy (John Wayne) wanted by the law on trumped-up charges joins an odd assortment of passengers (Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, Donald Meek, John Carradine and others) on the stage to Lordsburg in the midst of an Apache uprising. Directed by John Ford, the characters are a microcosm of frontier types, each of whom has a different reason for the journey whose dangers are played out against the majestic vistas of Monument Valley, with a brilliantly staged Indian attack and a final showdown on the streets of Lordsburg that brings the story to a rousing finish. Stylized violence. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Warner, $19.98)

44. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 552,122 | Gross: $56.95M

Art

Director Stanley Kubrick's epic work, co-written with Arthur C. Clarke, is both science fiction and metaphysical poetry using an unconventional mixture of visuals and music to bridge humanity's reconstructed past, identifiable present and projected future, all tied together by the recurring image of a monolith as symbol of a superhuman existence. The central narrative follows the struggle of two astronauts (Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood) to wrest control of their spacecraft from HAL, a talking computer (voice of Douglas Rain), on a half-billion-mile trip to Jupiter and the unknown. For young people and imaginative adults but too long, deep and intense for children. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (MGM/UA, $19.98)

45. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

PG | 102 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

100 Metascore

Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog, Richard Thorpe, King Vidor | Stars: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr

Votes: 355,914 | Gross: $2.08M

Art

Dorothy rides her cyclone to the magic land over the rainbow in director Victor Fleming's classic that skyrocketed Judy Garland's career and has given generations of families prime entertainment again and again. The 50th anniversary edition has 17 minutes of material not included in the original release. The U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences. (MGM/UA, $24.98)



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