52 Movies for the Year of the Priest: It’s a Wrap

Korrektiv and Transcendental Musings are celebrating the Year for Priests (or the Year of the Priest, if you please) by launching an entirely unofficial 52-week (beginning last week) festival of films about priests.

What follows is our list — hammered out over a bunch of Twitter posts and blog comments, a few beers and prayers — of 52 movies in which a priest or priests take center stage or at least play a pivotal role in the development of the films’ concerns.

I’ve arranged our selections chronologically, with the notion that it might be interesting to thus trace the evolution of filmmaking over the past seventy years while at the same time considering how perceptions of the priesthood, as reflected in these cinematic images, may have changed over that same period.

1. San Francisco (1936) [view the week of 6/19/09*]
2. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) [6/26/09]
3. Boys Town (1938) [7/3/09]
4. The Fighting 69th (1940) [7/10/09]
5. Going My Way (1944) [7/17/09]
6. The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) [7/24/09]
7. The Bells of St Mary’s (1945) [7/31/09]
8. The Fugitive (1947) [8/7/09]
9. Monsieur Vincent (1947) [8/14/09]
10. Fighting Father Dunne (1948) [8/21/09]
11. The Miracle of the Bells (1948) [8/28/09]
12. Diary of a Country Priest (1951) [9/4/09]
13. I Confess (1953) [9/11/09]
14. Father Brown (1954) [9/18/09]
15. On the Waterfront (1954) [9/25/09]
16. The Left Hand of God (1955) [10/2/09]
17. The Miracle of Marcelino (1955) [10/9/09]
18. The Prisoner (1955) [10/16/09]
19. Seven Cities of Gold (1955) [10/23/09]
20. Nazarin (1959) [10/30/09]
21. The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961) [11/6/09]
22. Hoodlum Priest (1961) [11/13/09]
23. The Cardinal (1963) [11/20/09]
24. Becket (1964) [11/27/09]
25. The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968) [12/4/09]
26. The Exorcist (1973) [12/11/09]
27. The Massacre in Rome (1973) [12/18/09]
28. Hounds of Notre Dame (1980) [12/25/09]
29. True Confessions (1981) [1/1/10]
30. The Scarlet and the Black (1983) [1/8/10]
31. Mass Appeal (1984) [1/15/10]
32. The Assisi Underground (1985) [1/22/10]
33. The Mission (1986) [1/29/10]
34. Au Revoir les Enfant (1987) [2/5/10]
35. The Fr. Clements Story (1987) [2/12/10]
36. Under Satan’s Sun (1987) [2/19/10]
37. Don Bosco (1988) [2/26/10]
38. Francesco (1989) [3/5/10]
39. Black Robe (1991) [3/12/10]
40. Zycie za Zycie (Life for Life) (1991) [3/19/10]
41. Sleepers (1996) [3/26/10]
42. Molokai: The Story of Fr. Damian (1999) [4/2/10]
43. The Third Miracle (1999) [4/9/10]
44. Keeping the Faith (2000) [4/16/10]
45. The Confessor (The Good Shepherd) (2004) [4/23/10]
46. The Ninth Day (2004) [4/30/10]
47. Saint Ralph (2004) [5/7/10]
48. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) [5/14/10]
49. Pope John Paul II (2005) [5/21/10]
50. The Novice (aka Crossroads) (2006) [5/28/10]
51. Doubt (2008) [6/2/10]
52. Gran Torino (2008) [6/9/10]

Alternate Selections

· La passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928)
· Francis of Assisi (1961)
· The Reluctant Saint (1962)
· A Man for All Seasons (1966)
· Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972)
· The Juggler of Notre Dame (1984)
· Jesus of Montreal (1989)
· Romero (1989)
· Stigmata (1999)
· St. Patrick: The Irish Legend (2000)
· Papa Giovanni John XXIII (2002)
· The Order (2003)
· Twist of Faith (2004)
· Into Great Silence (2005)
· Karol: The Man Who Became Pope (2005)


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Nice work, it looks great! Now I'm wondering if I should join Netflix again. Of course there will probably be a run on all these movies because of this list, and I can't imagine they have all that many copies of The Miracle of Marcelino. And a movie a week? That's a challenge, even for me.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    I was counting on you to carry us! I found the first three at my university library — but I'd bet a decent public library will have quite a few of them.

  3. Anonymous says

    As another alternate:

    The Juggler of Notre Dame

  4. Beyond the Gates (aka Shooting Dogs) (2005), starring John Hurt as a priest in Rwanda during the genocide.

  5. FYI — Francis of Assisi (1961) and Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972) — St. Francis was never a priest.

  6. Rufus McCain says

    Flexo: if you follow the link to Transcendental Musings, angelmeg explains: "BTW: I know that Francis of Assisi wasn't a priest, but there are priests in his story, and his story is worth seeing so that is why I have included two versions of his story in my list."

  7. The Man in the Iron Mask has Jeremy Irons as the General of the Jesuits 🙂

  8. angelmeg says

    here is another option of a foreign language film that might be a good one for this year. It was submitted by a Danish member of my parish.


    Sounds really interesting, I am going to see if our library has a copy or I can get it from interlibrary loan

  9. A very interesting list. Thanks for sharing it.

    Unfortunately, two of your alternates are very pretentious horror films which assert that the Church is corrupt and can't be trusted. Perhaps they should be omitted?

    Stigmata involves the possession and stigmatisation of an agnostic by a dead stigmatic visionary religious who is trying to reveal that the Church is concealing the true Gospel.

    The Order also known as The Sin Eater similarly features a corrupt Church wherein the favourite papabile is revealed to be a member of a hedonistic occult group who practice human sacrifice.

    Leaving aside the lack of coherent narrative or genuine horror aesthetic in these two films, their content is not sympathetic to authentic priesthood. In fact, the "heroic" priests in both films are the ones who disobey the Church and engage in adulterous affairs and occult rituals; which is kind of contrary to the Year of Priests!

    Thanks for putting the list together, though. I've seen many of them and have added the others to my "must-see" list.

  10. On the promotional side, has anybody let Steven Greydanus (Decent Films), Peter Chattaway (Film Chat and CT Movies), or Barbara Nicolosi (Church of the Masses) know about this? The USCCB might even be interested.

    I bet these folks have more readers than you or I. (Not that you don't have scads and scads of readers.)

  11. Sorry: You or me.

  12. Joe Heschmeyer says

    I want you to know that this blog post is the reason I finally buckled and got a Netflix account. When I was filling out the "how did you hear about us?" part, I thought, "much easier to just mark "other" and move on, then to figure out which radio button best fits…

    And I second whoever said Stigmata is an inappropriate choice for celebraing Year for Priests; at least it was an alternate.

  13. Rufus McCain says

    Thanks Joe. Your blog looks pretty solid. I will give it a closer read sometime soon.

    We're trying to round up guest bloggers for reviewing some of these priest movies. Would you like to sign on?

    If anyone else is interested in tackling one or two of these, let me know here in the comments or via email: korrektiv@gmail.com.

  14. Looks like Massacre in Rome may not arrive in time, but I also ordered The Scarlet and the Black, which arrives tomorrow. I tried to find The Runner Stumbles, but NetFlix doesn't carry it.

  15. Rufus McCain says

    Our timeline is pretty loose, so you don't need to worry. If you send me an email, I'll add you to the blog so you can post your review(s) directly.

  16. Can't find your email addy, so I'll notify you here.

    Massacre in Rome was delayed again and finally arrived… broken. I sent it back and received a second copy, which I will watch this evening or tomorrow. Review coming! In the meantime, I watched The Prisoner. The review is here:

Speak Your Mind