What Movies Best Exemplify the Seven Virtues?

What movies best represent the seven virtues and the theological gifts?

The Regina Coeli Academy in Philadelphia is putting together a list of recommended films for students.

One of the founders, Barbara Henkels, asked me to put the word out for some recommendations, which I am delighted to do.

Here is my preliminary list for the virtues:


Faith: The Song of Bernadette (1943), directed by Henry King, starring Jennifer Jones.  One of the most successful and enduring of Hollywood’s religious films, The Song of Bernadette portrays the clash between faith and science, doing surprising justice to both sides.

Hope: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart. This Christimas classic was something of a flop when it was released — too close to the end of WWII? However, it still grips the viewer with the freshness of George Bailey’s struggle with suicide.

Love: Life is Beautiful, starring and directed by Roberto Benigni. Anyone who has seen this film will very likely never forget the father’s gift of his life to save his son in a concentration camp.

Prudence: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda.  What makes this film so memorable is the way Lincoln employs his intelligence and insight into human character in the courtroom to get at the truth of a murder charge.

Justice: The Winslow Boy (1948), directed by Terrence Rattigan and starring Robert Donat. (By all means, watch this film version and not the 1999 remake by David Mamet.) Based upon a true story, The Winslow Boy portrays a father’s dogged pursuit of justice for his son kicked out of school for stealing.

Temperance: Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), directed by Walter Lang and starring Clifton Webb.  The attempts by the father of the Gilbreth clan to run everything by the clock is an unforgettable lesson about temperance and how it can be taken to the extreme.

Fortitude: Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), directed by David Lean and starring Alec Guinness.  The American and English soldiers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp are led by Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) whose trips to suffer the heat of “the cooler” are an unforgettable lesson in courage and leadership.

What are your suggestions both for the virtues and the gifts? (Please include at least a sentence supporting your recommendations.)


Deal W. Hudson


Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of "Church and Culture," a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ Formerly publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine for ten years, his articles and comments have been published widely in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. He has also appeared on TV and radio news shows such as the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, NBC News, and All Things Considered on National Public Radio. Hudson worked with Karl Rove in coordinating then-Gov. George W. Bush's outreach to Catholic voters in 2000 and 2004. In October 2003, President Bush appointed him a member of the official delegation from the United States to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II's papacy. Hudson, a former professor of philosophy for 15 years, is the editor and author of eight books. He tells the story of his conversion from Southern Baptist to Catholic in An American Conversion (Crossroad, 2003), and his latest, Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States, was published in March 2008. He is married to Theresa Carver Hudson, also a Baptist convert, and they have two children, Hannah and Cyprian who was adopted from Romania in 2001.

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)