List of the Ten Best American Catholic Movies (Plus Fifty More)

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There are Catholic films being made today – notably by the indefatigable Leonardo Defilippis – but mostly straight-to-video hagiography.

In the Forties, however, Catholic movies hit the big screen and the Big Time and marked a turning point in American culture.

Catholics were no longer simply marginalized immigrants; they became mainstream American icons.

No two films prove the point more surely than Leo McCarey’s Going My Way (1944) and its sequel The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), which received ten and eight Academy Award nominations respectively, made Bing Crosby (as Father O’Malley) the nation’s top box-office star, and gave the luminous Ingrid Bergman (in Bells) her third consecutive Best Actress nomination.

Although the sequel is probably more watched today, Going My Way was more honored at the time: McCarey and Crosby won Oscars and GMW was the top-grossing picture of the year. Bells topped the box office too, but GMW is by far the more poignant film – bittersweet really – in its depiction of the joys and sorrows of the priesthood. If the movie’s final scene doesn’t move you, better check for a heartbeat.

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Plus Fifty More

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