Line These Up for Your Next Movie Night

Mary M. Dillon

Line These Up for Your Next Movie Night

Like many Americans, I love movies. But, like many Catholics, I find it harder and harder to find good movies to enjoy. There are plenty of movies made every week—but movies that explore valuable themes, interesting and real characters, and authentic morals? Those are difficult to come by. Of course there are some movies made by Catholic or Christian organizations that are well done. But, if we’re honest, there are many more of these that are…shall we say…”Cheesey”? So where do we find good film—or even great film—that doesn’t explicitly glorify sin? Here are a few of my favorites. Some that are specifically dealing with Christian or Catholic characters and some aren’t. But all of them are about good people with good stories and real life and real challenges. I hope you can enjoy them as much as I do. These are ones that you can watch with the whole family, but I’ll include specifics with each.

1) The Scarlet and the Black

The Scarlet and the Black tells the true story of an Irish priest who smuggled escaped Allied POWs out of Rome during the Nazi occupation. Gregory Peck is the witty, courageous Monsignor O’Flaherty who takes on the ambitious Nazi Colonel Kappler played by Christopher Plummer. The film is an incredible story of courage and sacrifice. It’s exciting and suspenseful, with a great sense of humor. For families with young children, this movie may have some mature themes and war violence. Generally, though, I’d describe this as a family film.                

2) Lilies of the Field

Lilies of the Field, too, is a classic in which Sydney Poitier is a wanderer who is benevolently “tricked” into helping a group of nuns build a chapel in a desert town. It’s a heart-warming story that explores human relationships and the strength of the human character. It subtly incorporates the question of God’s will and Providence and it does it with a laugh. This one is for the whole family.         

3) Mostly Martha

This is a more recent film and, actually, it’s German, as, yes, it’s subtitled. Hot-tempered, exacting gourmet chef, Martha, ends up as the caretaker to her young, stubborn niece. Not long afterward, a slightly less conventional Italian chef, Mario, comes in to assist in her kitchen. Between the stresses of new parenthood and the challenges of working with Mario, Martha has a lot to learn. The movie is fun, but goes deeper as an interesting spin on the biblical story of Martha and Mary. This film is generally acceptable for the whole family, but does have some mature themes. It’s probably best for children 12 and up. Oh, and, please, do not settle for the America remake “No Reservations.” The German original has no competition.

I hope you can enjoy these films as much as I do! Make some popcorn and have a family movie night. These films will make you laugh, they won’t offend your moral sentiments, and, in fact, they’ll give you a thing or two to think about spiritually.