A Sampler of Movies for Catholic Families During Lockdown

North Texas Catholic
(May 8, 2020) Feature

Close-up of a film projector in a dark room (Unsplash.com/Alex Litvin)

(Unsplash.com/Alex Litvin)

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Parents now homeschooling their children and catechizing them in the Catholic faith during this time of pestilential lockdown and quarantine can stand some help. Allow me to offer a by-no-means-exhaustive list of 180 motion pictures and TV movies which will help teach your kids elements of the faith during Eastertide — while telling a good story at the same time.

Catholic families can watch these biblical films, along with dramas, comedies, swashbucklers, and character studies for entertainment and discussion after watching.

These selections can be found on DVDs, Blu-Ray, and streaming on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video. Many are featured on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the Fox Movie Channel (FXM), Starz/Encore channels, and other cable networks.

Just for fun I’ve included an action movie so unintentionally bad it’s positively hilarious. One scene was actually stolen bodily for inclusion in the much later movie, The Three Amigos (1986). See if you can tell me which one it is.


From the Manger to the Cross (1912, R. Henderson Bland, Alice Hollister),

A silent masterpiece: episodes tracing the life of Christ are presented by recreating details and costuming found in the hundreds of paintings produced with exacting accuracy in the late 1800s by French artist James J. Tissot, many of which can be found online.

Jesus of Nazareth (1977, six-hour TV miniseries Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey)

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern)

These are the two best and largely accurate U.S. cinematic presentations regarding Christ (Robert Powell, Jim Cavielzel, respectively) as met in the Gospels. Significantly, the directors, Franco Zeffirelli and Mel Gibson, respectively, are believing Catholics.

The Visual Bible: Matthew (1993, Richard Kiley, Bruce Marchiano)

In the year 62, Matthew, one of the Twelve, sets down memories of Jesus. This sincere, well-intentioned, and entertaining project boasts that every word in the script is taken from Matthew’s Gospel — but not every incident found in Matthew’s Gospel. Marchiano is quite engaging as Jesus.


A.D. (1985 TV miniseries, Denis Quilley, Anthony Andrews)

Despite a nine year lapse and Franco Zeffirelli’s departure from the production, this miniseries was deliberately made as a follow up to Jesus of Nazareth.

The Bible and A.D.—The Bible Continues (2013 and 2015 TV miniseries, Roma Downey, Diogo Morgado, Adam Levy, Joanne Whalley)

The Bible: In the Beginning (1966, George C. Scott, Ava Gardner)

David and Bathsheba (1951, Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward)

One Night with the King (2006, Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss)

Samson and Delilah (1949, Victor Mature, Hedy Lamarr)

A Story of David: The Hunted (1960, Jeff Chandler, Basil Sydney)

The Story of Ruth (1960, Elana Eden, Stuart Whitman)

St. Paul (2000 TV miniseries, Johannes Brandup, G. W. Bailey)

The Ten Commandments (1956, Charlton Heston, Anne Baxter)

The Visual Bible: The Book of Acts (1994, Dean Jones, Jennifer O’Neill)


Barabbas (1961, Anthony Quinn, Ernest Borgnine)

Ben Hur, a Tale of the Christ (1925, silent, Ramon Navarro, Francis X. Bushman)

Ben Hur (1959, Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd)

Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954, Victor Mature, Susan Hayward)

The Fourth Wise Man (1985 Martin Sheen, Alan Arkin)

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935, Preston Foster, Basil Rathbone)

The Other Wise Man (2019, animated, the voices of D. I. Walker, Shona Kay)

Quo Vadis (1951, Robert Taylor, Finlay Currie)

The Robe (1953, Richard Burton, Jean Simmons) 


Bakhita (2009, Teresa Acerbis, Ettore Bassi)

Becket (1964, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole)

Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972, Graham Faulkner, Judi Bowker as St Francis and St Clare)

Don Bosco (1988, Ben Gazzara, Patsy Kensit)

Don Bosco (2004 TV miniseries, Flavio Insinna, Lina Sastr)

Edith Stein: The Seventh Chamber (aka The Seventh Room, 1995, Maia Morgenstern, Jan Nowicki)

Francis of Assisi (1961, Bradford Dillman, Dolores Hart)

Joan of Arc (1948, Ingrid Bergman, José Ferrer)

Pope John Paul II (2005 TV miniseries, Jon Voight, Cary Elwes)

A Man for All Seasons (1966, Paul Scofield as St Thomas More, Suzannah York)

Maria Goretti (2003 TV movie, Martina Pinto, Fabrizio Bucci)  

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (aka Molokai, 1999, David Wenham, Leo McKern)

Monsieur Vincent (1947, Pierre Fresnay, Aimé Clariond)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, silent, Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain)

The Reluctant Saint (aka Joseph Desa, 1962, Maximilian Schell as St. Joseph of Cupertino, Ricardo Montalban)

Romero (1989, Raul Julia, Richard Jordan)

Saint John in Exile (1986, Dean Jones)

The Song of Bernadette (1943, Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford)

St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (2000 TV movie, Patrick Bergin, Malcolm McDowell)

The Seven Cities of Gold (1955, Michael Rennie as St. Junipero Serra, Richard Egan)

Thérèse (2004 Lindsay Younce, Leonardo Defilippis)

A Time for Miracles (1980 TV movie; Kate Mulgrew as St. Elizabeth Bayley Seaton, Lorne Greene as Bishop John Carroll) 


The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, Errol Flynn, Olivia De Havilland)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939, Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce)

Amistad (1997, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey)

And God Spoke, the Making of … (1993, Michael Riley, Stephen Rappaport — language alert)

Angels in the Outfield (1951, Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh)

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938, James Cagney, Pat O’Brien)

The Apartment (1960, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine — for older teens)

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944, Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane)

The Assisi Underground (1985, James Mason, Ben Cross)

At Sword’s Point (1952, Cornel Wilde, Maureen O’Hara)

Auntie Mame (1958, Rosalind  Russell, Forrest Tucker)

Bachelor Mother (1939, Ginger Rogers, David Niven) 

The Baron of Arizona (1950, Vincent Price, Ellen Drew)

The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman)

Boys Town (1938, Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney)

The Brides of Dracula (1960, Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt)

Brother Orchid (1940, Edward G. Robinson, Ann Sothern)

The Canterville Ghost (1944, Charles Laughton, Margaret O’Brien)

Captain from Castile (1947, Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero)

Captain Scarlett (1952, Richard Greene, Nedrick Young)

Casablanca (1942, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman)

Catholics (1973, Martin Sheen, Trevor Howard)

Champagne for Caesar (1950, Ronald Colman, Vincent Price)

Chariots of Fire (1981, Ben Cross, Alice Krige)

Cheaper by the Dozen (1950, Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy)

The Chronicles of Narnia: 1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005); 2. Prince Caspian (2008); 3. The Voyage of the Dawn Trader (2010, George Henley, the voice of Liam Neeson)

Come to the Stable (1949, Loretta Young, Celeste Holm)

The Court Jester (1956, Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns)

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950, Jose Ferrer, Mala Powers)

Destry Rides Again (1939, James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich)

Detective Story (1951, Kirk Douglas, William Bendix — for older teens)

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941, Edward Arnold, Walter Huston)

Double Indemnity (1944, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck)  

84 Charing Cross Road (1987, Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins)

Enchantment (1948, David Niven, Teresa Wright)

Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story (1995, Mona Kelly, Martin Sheen)

Father Brown, Detective (1934, Walter Connelly, Paul Lukas and The Detective, 1954, Alec Guinness, Peter Finch, and Father Brown (1974 TV series, Kenneth More)

The Father Clements Story (1987 TV movie, Louis Gossett Jr, Carroll O’Connor)

Father is a Bachelor (1950, William Holden, Charles Winninger)

The Fighting 69th (1939, James Cagney, Pat O’Brien)

Gigot (1962, Jackie Gleason, Katherine Kath)

Going My Way (1944, Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald)

Groundhog Day (1993, Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell)

Guilty of Treason (1950, Charles Bickford, Bonita Granville)

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944, Eddie Bracken, William Demarest)

Heaven Only Knows (1947, Robert Cummings, Brian Donlevy)

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957, Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr)

The Hoodlum Priest (1961, Don Murray, Keir Dullea — for older teens)

The Hoodlum Saint (1946, William Powell, Esther Williams)

In This House of Brede (1975 TV movie, Diana Rigg, Judy Bowker)  

The Iron Giant (1999, animated, voices of Eli Marienthal, Vin Diesel)

It Happened One Night (1934, Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert)

I Confess (1953, Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter — for older teens)

An Inspector Calls (1954, Alastair Sim, Jane Wenham)

If I Were King (1938, Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone)

It’s a Wonderful Life (1947, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore)

Ivanhoe (1952, Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor)

The Keys of the Kingdom (1944, Gregory Peck, Thomas Mitchell)

The Lady Eve (1941, Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda)

Lady in the Lake (1946, Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter)

Ladyhawke (1985, Matthew Broderick, Michelle Pfeiffer)

The Last Hurrah (1959, Spencer Tracy, Jeffrey Hunter)

A League of Their Own (1992, Tom Hanks, Geena Davis)

The Left Hand of God (1955, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney)

Les Misérables (1937, Fredric March, Charles Laughton; 1954, Michael Rennie, Robert Newton)

Life With Father (1947, William Powell, Irene Dunne)

Lilies of the Field (1963, Sidney Poitier, Lilia Skala)

The Little World of Don Camillo (1952, and The Return of Don Camillo, 1953,  Fernandel, Gino Cervi) 

The Long Ships (1964, Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier)

The Magnificent Seven (1960, Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen)

The Man in the Iron Mask (1939, Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett)

The Mark of Zorro (1940, Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell)

Matilda (1996, Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito)

The Miracle of Marcelino, original Spanish title, Marcelino, Pan y Vino (1955, Pablito Calvo, Fernando Rey)

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952, Gilbert Roland, Angela Clarke)  

The Miracle Worker (1962, Anne Bancroft, Patty Duke) 

The Mission (1986, Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons—older teens)

Murder He Says (1945, Fred MacMurray, Marjorie Main)

The Night of the Hunter (1955, Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish)

O. Henry’s Full House (1950, Charles Laughton, Jeanne Crain, narrative between the five stories by the novelist John Steinbeck)

One Foot in Heaven (1941, Fredric March, Martha Scott)

On the Waterfront (1954, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden)

People Will Talk (1951, Cary Grant, Hume Cronyn)

Phone Call from a Stranger (1952, Gary Merrill,  Bette Davis)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945, Hurd Hatfield, Angela Lansbury)

The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957 TV movie, Van Johnson, Claude Rains)

Prince Valiant (1954, Robert Wagner, Janet Leigh)

The Prisoner (1954, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins)

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937, Ronald Colman, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr)

The Quiet Man (1952, John Wayne. Maureen O’Hara)

Rachel and the Stranger (1948, Loretta Young, William Holden)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Harrison Ford, Karen Allen)

The Remarkable Andrew (1942, William Holden, Brian Donlevy)

Sally and Saint Anne (1952, Ann Blyth, Edmund Gwenn)

Scandal at Scourie (1953, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon)  

The Scarlet and the Black (1993 TV miniseries, Gregory Peck, Christopher Plummer)  

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1935, Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon; 1982, Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour)

The Selfish Giant (1971 animated short, narrated by Paul Hect)

The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968, Anthony Quinn, Laurence Olivier)

A Simple Twist of Fate (1994, Steve Martin, Catherine O’Hara)

Sitting Pretty (1948, Clifton Webb, Robert Young)

Stars in My Crown (1950, Joel McCrea, Ellen Drew)

Sullivan’s Travels (1942, Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake)

A Tale of Two Cities (1935, Ronald Colman, Blanche Yurka)

Three Godfathers (1948, John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz)  

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945, James Dunn, Peggy Ann Garner)

Trouble Along the Way (1953, John Wayne, Charles Coburn)

The Vikings (1958, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis)

When in Rome (1952, Van Johnson, Paul Douglas)

Without a Clue (1988, Michael Caine, Ben Kingsley)

Woman of the Town (1943, Claire Trevor, Albert Dekker) 

Sean M. Wright, an Emmy-nominated television writer, is a Master Catechist for the archdiocese of Los Angeles and a member of the RCIA team at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Santa Clarita.

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