classic film

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

The Christian Subtext to “Secular” Christmas Film Classics

That there is some sense in which Christmas can be said to have become “secularized” over the years is undoubtedly true. Nevertheless, this judgment may be overwrought. Perhaps Christ is more present in “secularized” expressions of Christmas than either Christian or non-Christian is willing to acknowledge. This is borne out by close examination of such [...]

The Miracle of the Bells: A Forgotten Catholic Novel & Film

Back in 1947 it was possible for a Catholic novel to shoot to the top of the national bestseller list in the U.S.A. That's exactly what happened to Russell Janney's The Miracle of the Bells. Janney (1884-1963), a theatrical producer by trade, produced Miracle as his first novel at the mature age of 62 and [...]

Catholics Agree: It’s a Wonderful Life

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Frank Capra’s beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. It debuted December 20, 1946, just a year after World War II ended. (Remember, the film begins and ends with the expected return of war hero Harry Bailey.) The film offers several Catholic perspectives. How many movies today would [...]

At the Movies with Campaign 2016

“What are we going to do?” asked the Professor. “At this moment,” said Syme, with a scientific detachment, “I think we are going to smash into a lamppost.” ~ G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare By all accounts, this has been a strange campaign season, and it’s only going to get stranger, so [...]

St. Thomas More and the Birth of New Hollywood

In 1967, the 39th Academy Awards were dominated by one film: A Man for All Seasons (1966). It was nominated for ten Oscars; in the end, it won six. By any measure that was a phenomenal haul, adding to its already existing international awards and the commercial success then being enjoyed worldwide. That the film’s [...]

Nosferatu and the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is the earliest adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula coming as it did just over 20 years after the novel’s publication in 1897. In some ways, however, that’s where any similarity ends. Book and subsequent film emerge from different worlds and through different mediums. In both good appears to triumph, and [...]

Films to Watch During Lent

Lent is a time for taking stock. It is a spiritual workout consisting of prayer, fasting and alms giving. We pray, read spiritual books, and give something to someone in need. But too often we get distracted, we forget to pray, and lose interest in the books we have earmarked for the season whilst suddenly realizing [...]

Hitchcock’s Catholicism: The Final MacGuffin?

Recently, Alfred Hitchcock came back from the dead, and, in so doing, frightened a man "back into life." Let me explain. The headline ran as follows: "Hitchcock suspense clip helps detect awareness in patient in vegetative state!" A man had been in a coma for 16 years. The prognosis was not good, hope for his [...]

Chaplin’s Little Tramp on the Road to Emmaus

There is just published a new biography: Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd. The publishers are marking the 125th anniversary of the comic’s birth. It is, however, the wrong anniversary. As 100 years ago this year, a 25 year old English music hall artist was asked to come to California to make a screen test. Soon [...]

Timely Film Rome, Open City is Re-released

London just witnessed the release of a newly restored version of Rome, Open City (Roma città aperta). Roberto Rossellini's Italian Neo-Realist classic emerged from the smashed debris of what was left of the Eternal City as the German armies retreated and the Allies slowly crept towards it. Watching the movie today it lacks none of [...]

Rosemary’s Baby: A Warning to the Curious

Unexpectedly, I came across a reference to NBC re-making Rosemary's Baby into a four-hour mini-series; press reports suggest that shooting has already begun this month. With this news, a fear began to grip as my thoughts returned to the original. Strange tales grow up around movies. Like many before and since, Rosemary's Baby has had [...]

That Other Capra Christmas Movie

Every one has seen it. At least, it seems so at this time of year. You can't avoid seeing that 1946 classic appearing on television. Everyone at the office loves it, of course, even those who haven’t seen it. Everyone has their favorite scene, the bits they like to quote. Unexpectedly, some become quite poetic, [...]

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