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Year of the Priest Film Festival: The Holy Father has declared 2009-2010 to be the "Year of the Priest." A clever blogger came up with the wonderful idea of a do-it-yourself "Year of the Priest" film festival--a movie to watch each week about or with a priest in an important role. So we decided to post a film each week, with a trailer, if one is available. This page contains all the films we have showcased, beginning with "Fighting Father Dunne" on August 23, 2009, and ending with "Fishers of Men" on June 13, 2010.

Selecting a movie each week over the past year has been very enlightening. The number of movies featuring a Catholic priest in an important role indicate his centrality to Western culture. The role of the Priest is not interchangeable with that of the Rabbi or Minister—somehow there seems to be an authority in the Catholic Priest that is recognized culturally, even by those who do not share the faith.



This week's recommendation is "Fighting Father Dunne" a 1948 release with Pat O'Brien in the title role.


This week’s recommendation is “The Miracle of the Bells” a 1948 production with old blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, in the role of Father Paul.

You can watch the trailer here.



This week’s recommendation is “Diary of a Country Priest,” a 1951 adaptation of George Bernanos’ masterpiece.


The movie itself, by French director Robert Bresson, is also considered a masterpiece. Claude Laydu plays the priest.


You can watch the trailer at left.


This week’s recommended movie is “I Confess” with Montgomery Clift in the role of Fr. Logan.

The movie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

You can view a trailer at left.



This week’s movie features the great Alec Guinness in the title role in the 1954 gem “Father Brown.”


Father Brown is G.K. Chesterton’s priest/detective:


“Works of art are disappearing, stolen by a master thief, a master of disguise. Father Brown has two goals: to catch the thief and to save his soul.”


You can watch a segment at left.




This week’s recommendation is one of the all-time great American films, Elia Kazan’s classic “On the Waterfront.”


Karl Malden’s portrayal of “Father Barry” is one of the defining roles of his great career.


One of Mr. Malden's famous scenes is at left.




This week’s recommendation is “The Left Hand of God,” a 1955 film set in China during WWII.


The movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney.


You can watch part one at left.





This week’s recommended movie is the heartwarming “Miracle of Marcellino.”

This movie was first made in 1955, and then remade in 1991.

“It is wartime and the friars of a humble monastery find a baby on the doorsteps of an abandoned home. They lovingly raise the baby and name him Marcellino.”

You can watch a trailer of this lovely film at left.




This week’s recommended movie is “The Prisoner,” a 1955 film starring the great Alec Guinness.


Behind the Iron Curtain, a heroic Cardinal is charged with treason, and interrogated. A fitting movie, since we are celebrating the “Red Mass” this week!


You can watch a trailer of this gripping film at left.




This week’s recommended movie is 1955’s “Seven Cities of Gold” starring Richard Egan & Anthony Quinn, with Michael Rennie in the role of Fr. Junipero Serra.

“Initially, this drama, which takes off from Mexico and ends up on the coast of California in 1769, is an account of the Spanish expedition sent to find the fabled "cities of gold" that were supposed to lie in the region north and west of old Mexico. But it soon becomes a rapt and reverent tribute to the Rev. Junipero Serra, the Roman Catholic priest who went along with the colonizing soldiers to establish missions in the heathen land.”



This week’s recommended movie is “Nazarín” a 1959 film by the famous Spanish director Luis Buñuel.

Buñuel was anti-clerical, but "God writes straight with crooked lines.” says:

Nazarín may be strongly skeptical, yet it is aware of religion in a profound way, and the very attention it gives even to the question of faith bears tacit witness to man’s spiritual dimension...It’s a deeply problematic film, but one that deserves critical viewing and thoughtful engagement.”

Francisco Rabal plays Fr. Nazario

“The Devil at 4 O’Clock” a 1961 release featuring Frank Sinatra as Harry, Kerwin Matthews as Father Joseph Perreau, and the great Spencer Tracy as Father Matthew Doonan.

Set in the South Pacific. Spencer Tracy must rescue a group of leper children threatened by an erupting volcano. With no one else to help, he must convince three convicts, one of whom is played by Sinatra, to lend a hand.

This week’s recommended movie is the 1961 offering “Hoodlum Priest,” based on the life of Fr. Charles Dismas Clark.

Fr. Clark (played by Don Gates) was a Jesuit priest who worked with young ex-convicts as they try to rejoin an often hostile society.


This week’s recommended movie is 1961’s “The Power and the Glory.”

The film is an adaptation of Graham Greene’s famous novel about a far-from-perfect priest “... who somehow stumbled onto the road to martyrdom.” Many novelists consider the book to be Greene’s masterpiece.

The movie has an all-star cast with Julie Harris, George C. Scott, Roddy McDowell, and Patty Duke. The great Sir Laurence Olivier (at left) plays the unnamed priest.

The movie for this week is “Becket.”

This drama explores the relationship between two onetime friends, and how the Church’s attempt to maintain its rights in the face of the state’s encroachment strains that friendship. A battle that continues today!

The star-studded cast includes Peter O’Toole, and Sir John Gielgud, with Richard Burton in the title role.


You can watch the trailer at left.

This week’s recommended movie is 1968’s “The Shoes of the Fisherman.”

This movie, depicting the surprise election of a Russian Cardinal to the throne of St. Peter, seems to foreshadows the stunning choice of Karol Wojtyla as John Paul II.

Another all-star cast: Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Oskar Wener, Leo McKern, with Anthony Quinn in the role of Cardinal Kiril Pavlovich Lakota, who becomes Pope Kiril.

You can watch the trailer at left.

This week's movie is "Karol: The Man Who Became Pope.”

This film, originally a mini-series that was later released in theaters, chronicles the life of Karol Wojtyla from 1939 until the conclave that made him our beloved Pope John Paul II. The incredible success of the film caused a sequel “Karol, the Pope, the Man” to be made.

Piotr Adamczyk plays Fr. Wojtyla.


You can watch a portion of this wonderful film at left.

This week’s recommended movie is “Au Revoir, les enfants,” a 1987 movie by Louis Malle.

The film takes place in a French boarding school during World War II, where the headmaster, a Catholic priest, is trying to shield Jewish children from the Gestapo.

Philippe Morier-Genoud plays Père Jean, “a dignified, sacrificing priest of the old school” who is sent to the concentration camp at Mathausauen for his actions.

The movie is based on actual events that Malle experienced at school in his childhood, and the priest on whom Père Jean is based, Father Jacques de Jesus, died shortly after the US Army liberated the camp. He weighed just 75 pounds.


This week’s recommended movie is the is “The Scarlet and the Black” a 1983 made for TV movie starring Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer, and Sir John Gielgud.

The movie tells the true-life story of Fr. Hugh O’Flaherty, who organized a network of civilians in Rome to protect Jewish refugees and Allied POW’s from the Nazis during WWII.

Mr. Peck plays the heroic priest.

This week’s recommended movie is “Under Satan’s Sun” ("Sous le Soleil de Satan") directed by Maurice Pialat. This is another French film adapted from a book by the great Catholic author Georges Bernanos.

The New York Times called this movie “outstandingly literate” and said it “rises to a stunning test of faith.”

The movie won the “Palme d’Or” at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, where Gerard Depardieu also won the best actor award for his performance as Fr. Donissan.

This week’s recommended movie is “Molokai: The Story of Father Damien,” a 1999 film about Fr. Jozef De Veuster, “Fr. Damien,” the “leper priest” who was canonized earlier this year by Pope Benedict.

The movie features Derek Jacobi, Sam Neill, Leo McKern, and Peter O’Toole.

David Wenham plays the faithful priest.

Since today is the Feast of the founder of the Salesian order, St. John Bosco, this week’s recommended movie is 2004’s “Don Bosco, Mission to Love.”


“Flavio Insinna gives a winning performance as John (Don Bosco), the great priest and educator of youth from then tough streets of Turin Italy.”


This is the third movie about Don Bosco. The first, in 1936, starred Gian Pablo Rosmino and the second, form 1988, starred Ben Gazzara. DVD’s of “Mission to Love” are available in the church bookstore.


Watch the trailer at left.

This week’s recommended movie is “Angels with Dirty Faces” starring the great James Cagney as Rocky, a successful gangster, and Pat O’Brien as his friend Jerry.

The two had grown up together but took different paths. Jerry, who is pretty tough himself, is now Father Jerry, and his mission is to help the boys from the slums have a fighting chance of becoming good citizens.

The movie also features Humphrey Bogart as Rocky's treacherous attorney, plus the most famous performance of the “Dead End Kids.”

This week’s recommended movie is “San Francisco” starring Clark Gable as the somewhat shady character Blackie Norton, Jeannette MacDonald as the singer Mary Blake, and Spencer Tracy as Fr. Tim Mullin. makes the point: “Each appearance by Fr. Mullin represents a key turning point in the film's development of the relationship between Blackie Norton and Mary Blake as well as Blackie's progress from hard-headed unbelief towards a collision with faith . . . it is quite a charming, fascinating film with a struggle of faith vs. unbelief--and an interesting priestly presence--at its core.”

This week’s recommended movie is ”Romero.”

Raúl Juliá plays His Excellency Óscar Romero, the good Archbishop of El Salvador. Faced with the violations of human rights and dignity in that country, Archbishop Romero became a vocal champion of the poor and stood up against the repression. His exercise of his obligation as a shepherd of souls resulted in his being assassinated on March 17, 1980, while celebrating Mass.

“I have been thinking of how far a soul can ascend if it lets itself be possessed entirely by God.” --Archbishop Romero.


This week’s recommended movie is “Black Robe,” a 1991 film directed by Bruce Beresford. “Black Robe” is a fictionalized account of the Jesuit Missionaries efforts to bring the Good News to the Algonquin tribes of Canada.

Variety Magazine praised the movie as a “magnificently staged combination of top talents delivering a gripping and tragic story” and the movie has been called “one of the most meticulously researched representations of indigenous life put on film.”

Lothaire Bluteau plays Father LaForgue.

This week’s recommended movie is “Beyond the Gates,” (also released as “Shooting Dogs”).

The film is a fictionalized account of the heroic actions of the Bosnian priest Fr. Vjeko Curic, who was in Rwanda during the horrific genocide. The San Francisco Chronicle compared Fr. Curic to Oskar Schindler for his attempt to protect Tutsis from slaughter at the hands of the majority Hutu tribe.

John Hurt plays “Fr. Christopher,” the character based on Fr. Curic.

Warning: this movie contains some extremely violent scenes.

This week’s recommended movie is “St. Patrick: the Irish Legend” a 2000 film based on the life of the great Saint, who returned to Ireland to convert and minister to the people. Patrick Bergin plays St. Patrick as an adult, and Luke Griffin plays the young Patrick.

The movie also features Alan Bates, Susannah York, and Malcolm McDowell.

Since Friday was the Solemnity of Joseph, the Husband of Mary, this week's movie is "Joseph of Nazareth -- the Story of the Man Closest to Christ." "The first feature film ever on the story of St. Joseph - carpenter, husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that St. Joseph was a "just man", and that God gave him the most daunting task ever asked of a man - to be the husband of the woman who would give birth to the Messiah, and the father and protector of this Holy Family, the man closest to Christ.

Starring Tobias Moretti in a manly, appealing performance, we are shown the human, noble and the deeply spiritual aspects of Joseph the carpenter, son of David, servant of God and loving husband of Mary."

We don't have a trailer of this film, but you can purchase it here.

This week’s recommended movie is “The Passion of the Christ.”

Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie was extremely controversial for it’s graphic depiction of the passion and crucifixion of our High Priest, Jesus Christ. But it is probably the most accurate depiction of the suffering Jesus endured in his last hours that has ever been filmed.

Jim Caviezel portrays Jesus Christ.

Part 1 of 12 is at left. The full movie can be watched in 12 parts on


This week’s movie is actually an Italian TV series: “Don Matteo.”

From Wikipedia: “Father Matteo (portrayed by Terence Hill), is a Catholic priest in the town of Gubbio who is also known for his unrivaled talent in investigating local crimes.” Fr. Matteo is always one step ahead of Police Captain Aneschi (played by Flavio Insinna, who also portrayed Don Bosco).

The series also features the famous comedian Nino Frassica, as Don Matteo’s best friend. The most important element of the series is how Don Matteo “...uses his gifts to reawaken the consciences of the criminals he encounters.”

The DVD is available in the church bookstore.

This week’s movie is the documentary “A Hand of Peace: Pius XII and the Holocaust.”

The film features interviews with leading scholars, leaders in the Jewish community, and those who knew Pius XII personally.

The documentary “...explores the difficult choices Pius XII faced during the Second World War, and provides convincing proof that his bold, yet discreet, prophetic actions saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives and paved the way for a new era of Catholic-Jewish relations that have deepened over the past 50 years.”

This week's movie is 1962’s life of St. Joseph of Copertino “The Reluctant Saint.” Joseph of Copertino lived in 17th century Italy. He was a man of slow wits but a great heart and deep piety. Because of his lack of intelligence Joseph faced difficulty wherever he went. He finally ended up in a Franciscan monastery taking care of the animals. Somehow he became a priest—and more!

In our time, intelligence seems to be valued above all other gifts. The story of St. Joseph of Copertino shows that God doesn’t see things that way.

Maximilian Schell plays St. Joseph, and Ricardo Montalban plays Don Raspi, who is skeptical of Joseph, but instead learns something!

This week’s movie is 1944’s “Going my Way” starring Bing Crosby as young Fr. Charles “Chuck” O'Malley, who is sent to an inner city parish run by Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald).

The film was nominated for 10 academy awards, and won seven, including Best Movie, Best Director (Leo McCarey, Best Actor (Crosby), and Best Supporting Actor (Fitzgerald).

The movie also features 16 year-old Carl Switzer (Alfalfa from “The Little Rascals”) in a supporting role.


This weeks recommendation is another James Cagney/Pat O’Brien feature, “The Fighting 69th.”

The film is based upon the actual exploits of New York’s 69th Infantry Regiment (dubbed the “Fighting Irish” by General Robert E. Lee during the civil war—Notre Dame took the nickname from them) during WWI.

Cagney plays misfit soldier Jerry Plunkett, and O’Brien plays Father Francis P. Duffy, a military chaplain who attempts to reform Plunkett. Father Duffy was the actual chaplain of the Fighting 69th.




This weeks recommendation is “Popielusko. Freedom is Within Us.” Popielusko tells the true story of Fr. Jerzy Popielusko, a charismatic young Polish priest whose uncompromising stance led to his murder by the communist secret police in the days of the Solidarity uprising. The movie is in Polish with English subtitles.

Adam Woronowicz plays the heroic priest. Almost immediately the Church recognized Fr. Popielusko as a martyr, and he is scheduled to be beatified on June 6, 2010 in Pilsudski square in Warsaw. You can watch the trailer at left.

Caution: the movie is a realistic treatment and includes some violence and bad language.


This week’s movie is 1977’s “Padre on Horseback” the true story of Father Eusebio Kino, a 17th Century Jesuit missionary who was dedicated to spreading the Gospel to the Indians in the old Southwest.

Fr. Kino established 24 missions in Baja California and what is now the southwest United States, traveling over an area of 50,000 square miles on horseback. In addition to his pastoral work, Fr. Kino defended the indigenous people against the depredations of the Spanish, and helped them increase crop yields. Ricardo Montalban plays Fr. Kino. With Cesar Romero, Richard Egan, and John Ireland.


This week’s film is 1959’s “The Big Fisherman” starring Howard Keel.

The movie, directed by Frank Borzage is about the later life of Saint Peter. It is adapted from a novel written by Lloyd C. Douglas, who also wrote The Robe (which was also made into a movie).

The New York Times wrote “Howard Keel stars as a stalwart Simon-Peter, the apostle of Christ called ‘the fisher of men’ and the ‘Rock’ upon whom the Christian Church was founded.”

The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards.


Final Year of the Priest “Movie of the Week”: The “Year of the Priest” ends on June 19, 2010 and this week we will feature our final movie of the week. Our selection is the short movie by Grassroots Films called “Fishers of Men.” “Fishers of Men” was produced as a vocations video for the USCCB, but it stands on its own, artistically.

And as one of the “Fishers of Men” says “We need men to give up their lives for Jesus Christ NOW!”

Part one of "Fishers of Men" is at left. For part two, go here.


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