Steve & Janet Ray’s Favorite Movies

Christian Videos/DVDs can be bought from Ignatius Press, others from We have been using Amazon Prime which is a service for watching movies on-line. Their website also has reviews and much information. Also see my Favorite Links for good sites for finding and reviewing wholesome entertainment. Another good list for Catholic families is Summer Family Movie List with recommendations on projectors too.

Steve’s Catholic Family Series: (all on DVD with Bloopers, Behind the Scenes Interviews and complete Study Guides)

The completed series will have 10 documentaries. We currently have the first 9 completed. To purchase the set with a discount, click here.

Abraham: Father of Faith & Works
Moses: Signs, Sacraments, and Salvation
David & Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom
Elijah & Elisha: Conscience of the Kingdom
Mary: Mother of God
Jesus: the Word Became Flesh
Peter: Keeper of the Keys
Paul: Contending for the Faith
Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith

These can be purchased here on my On-Line Bookstore.

The Ray Family’s Favorite Movies (in no particular order)

For Decent, click here.
US Bishops’ Movie reviews, click here. (excellent)
For my friend Ed Peter’s list, click here.

Faith and Family Magazines Top 100 Catholic Movies
  1. Passion of the Christ                          2004    v
  2. Sound of Music                                 1985
  3. A Man for All Seasons                      1966
  4. Song of Bernadette                            1943
  5. It’s a Wonderful Life                          1946
  6. Ten Commandments                          1956
  7. Scarlet and the Black                         1983
  8. Jesus of Nazareth                              1977
  9. Schindler’s List                                  1993    v, n, s
  10. Bell’s of St. Mary’s                           1945
  11. Therese                                             2004
  12. Braveheart                                         1995    v, s
  13. Miracle of our Lady of Fatima            1952
  14. Mission                                             1986    v, n
  15. Lilies of the Field                               1963
  16. Les Miserables                                  1998    n, p
  17. Miracle of Marcelino                         1998    n, p
  18. Quiet Man                                         1952
  19. Ben Hur                                            1959
  20. Rudy                                                 1993    p
  21. Robe                                                 1953
  22. Return to Me                                     2000    p
  23. We Were Soldiers                             2002    v, p
  24. Becket                                              1964    v, p, s
  25. Going My Way                                  1944
  26. Romero                                             1989
  27. Sister Act                                          1992    p, s
  28. Pope John Paul II                              1984
  29. Jonah: Veggie Tales Movie                2002
  30. Shoes of the Fisherman                      1986
  31. Brideshead Revisited                         1981    p, n, s
  32. Keys of the Kingdom                         1944
  33. On the Waterfront                             1954
  34. I Confess                                           1953
  35. Boy’s Town                                      1938
  36. Molokai: Story of Fr. Damien            1999    p
  37. Qua Vadis                                         1951
  38. Trouble with Angels                           1956
  39. Babette’s Feast                                 1987
  40. Rookie                                              2002    s
  41. Reluctant Saint                                   1962
  42. One Man’s Hero                               1999
  43. Brother Sun, Sister Moon                  1972
  44. Exorcist                                             1973    v, p, s
  45. Dead Men Walking                           1995    v,s
  46. Joan of Arc                                       1948
  47. Agony and the Ecstasy                       1965
  48. Passion of Joan of Arc                       1928    n, v
  49. Angels in the Outfield                         1951
  50. Moonstruck                                       1987    p, s
  51. Miracle Maker: Story of Jesus           2000
  52. Henry V                                            1989    p, v
  53. Heaven Knows Mr. Allison                1957
  54. Entertaining Angels: Dorothy Day       1996
  55. Knute Rockne: All American              1940
  56. Greatest Story ever Told                    1965
  57. Singing Nun                                       1966
  58. Marty                                                1955
  59. Monsieur Vincent                              1948
  60. Assisi Underground                           1985
  61. Au Revoir Infants                               1987    p, s
  62. Come to the Stable                            1949
  63. Diary of a Country Priest                   1951
  64. In this House of Brede                       1975
  65. Jeweller’s Shop                                 1988
  66. Miracle of the Bells                            1948
  67. Fighting Sullivans                               1944
  68. Fourth Wisemen                                1985
  69. Juggler of Notre Dame                       1970
  70. Barabbas                                           1962
  71. King of Kings                                    1961
  72. Francis of Assisi                                1961
  73. Adventures of Robin Hood                1937
  74. Decalogue                                         1987    v, s
  75. Gospel according to Saint Matthew    1966
  76. Angels with Dirty Faces                     1938
  77. Fugitive                                             1947
  78. Longest Day                                      1962
  79. Therese                                             1986
  80. Gospel of John                                  2003
  81. A.D.                                                  1985
  82. Faustyna                                            1995
  83. The Son                                            2002
  84. Francesco                                         1989    n
  85. Flowers of St. Francis                       1950
  86. Brother Orchid                                  1940
  87. Demetrius and the Gladiators             1954
  88. Nazarin                                             1958
  89. Silver Chalice                                    1954
  90. When in Rome                                   1952
  91. Not of this World                              1999
  92. Open City                                         1945    v, s
  93. 3 Godfathers                                     1948
  94. Don Bosco                                        1988
  95. Abraham                                           1994
  96. Detective                                           1954
  97. Hoodlum Saint                                   1946
  98. Sign of the Cross                               1932
  99. Wrong Man                                       1956
  100. Padre on Horseback                       1977

A list of quality films that will inspire you as well as entertain you.

Here’s a list of quality films that are perfect to engage Catholics in thoughtful reflection. To delve more deeply into each movie, click on the titles for helpful study guides prepared by the Knights of Columbus.

1. A Man for All Seasons

St. Thomas More was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. He held to his faith and conscience and refused to declare Henry VIII as head of the Church of England, even though he knew he would be executed for it.

This film won several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. Plus, it has an all-star cast with Orson Welles, Robert Shaw (or Quint from Jaws) and John Hurt (who holds the record for most on-screen deaths).

2. Judgment at Nuremberg

This Best Picture-nominated film centers on a fictional military tribunal and offers a glimpse at what happened to Nazis after World War II and their role in the Holocaust. Spencer Tracy leads an all-star cast including Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Judy Garland and William Shatner.

The movie is also the first time Nazi concentration camp footage was used in a commercial film. Judgment at Nuremberg explores why we must value every single human life.

3. On the Waterfront

If Marlon Brando’s stunning performance doesn’t sell you, this Best-Picture winner tells the story of an uneducated former boxer who stands up against corrupt union bosses who have unmitigated power. Is it anti-Communist? Yes. Does it include pro-Catholic teachings? Yes.

Plus it features one of the greatest lines in movie history. You’ll know it when you get to it.

4. Henry V

This film adaptation of the Shakespeare play deals with themes of war and peace, brotherhood and leadership, manipulation and trust. But it’s also an underdog story, as the British troops were outnumbered 5 to 1 against the French at the real, historic battle.

And here is a future trivia answer for you: HBO’s Band of Brothers gets its name from the Henry V line “We few, we happy few. We band of brothers.”

5. The Mission

Robert De Niro stars in this movie about a Jesuit missionary evangelizing the native people of 18th-century South America. It was nominated for seven Oscars and won the Palm d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival.

6. We Were Soldiers

Although violent, the battle scenes are accurate portrayals of the events that changed the course of the Vietnam War. The movie, starring by Mel Gibson, shows the men who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for God, country and their brothers.

7. Liberating a Continent

St. John Paul II’s trip to Poland in 1978 brought hope to a continent split by the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain.” It’s a story of real people, real lives, real consequences and the real power of prayer.

8. For Greater Glory

In the 1920s, Mexican Catholics were persecuted by their government, forcing them to fight for their lives and the right to practice their faith. Many were martyred during the conflict — including six Knights who were later canonized.

The film’s theme of religious liberty remains powerful, as Christians are still persecuted throughout the world today.

9. Shane

Dealing with themes of heroism, redemption and justice, the film centers on a former gunslinger who tries to help a family of farmers harassed by cattle ranchers who have hired their own gunfighter. Shane is a classic film, listed number 45 on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list.

10. Michael Collins

First he played Holocaust hero Oskar Schindler. Then he played Irish hero Michael Collins. Liam Neeson stars in this biopic about the Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who struggled for Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom in the early 20th century.

It was nominated for two Academy Awards (cinematography and score), and Neeson and the film won top prizes at the Venice Film Festival.

11. Katy?

If you’re looking for a foreign film, put Katy? at the top of your list. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 80th Academy Awards, it tells the story of Soviet atrocities against the Polish during the Second World War — including a mass execution and its cover-up. Although the characters are fictional, the Soviet actions are not.

12. Becket

Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton star in this classic film about the disintegrating relationship between King Henry II and St. Thomas Becket due to the latter’s commitment to the Catholic Church.

Becket received 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and two Best Actor nominations. (Although O’Toole and Burton didn’t win, making it a combined 14 times they were nominated for acting but never won.)


t. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us and that means many of us will be watching “The Quiet Man” again. While it’s a fine film, it’s not the only Irish-themed picture available ─ by John Ford and others. A few suggestions for those who might be looking for something in addition to ─ or a little different ─ this holiday. In no particular order:

The Long Gray Line. (1955) Another John Ford classic. Tyrone Power stars as the real-life Martin Maher, an Irish immigrant who starts out as a waiter at West Point, joins the Army, gets assigned to the academy as an athletic instructor, and ends up staying at the Point for over 50 years. Naturally, he sees them all: Ike, Patton, Bradley, etc. Ford “company” members Maureen O’Hara and Ward Bond co-star, as well as Harry Carey Jr. as a dead ringer for the young Eisenhower. Watch for a young Peter Graves (of Mission: Impossible fame) in a cameo role.

The Informer(1935): Based on Liam O’Flaherty’s novel, it won Ford the first of his four Best Director Oscars. Victor McLaglen turns in the performance of a career as the disgraced Irish revolutionary Gypo Nolan, who sells his best friend to the British for 20 pounds and whose life falls apart as his treachery is discovered and guilt gnaws away at his soul.

The Plough and the Stars(1937): Another John Ford effort set in revolutionary Ireland, based on Sean O’Casey’s stage play. Barbara Stanwyck (unusual role for her) runs a rooming house in 1916 Dublin and wants nothing more than to stay out of the political ferment happening around her. But her husband (Preston Foster, also in The Informer), has other ideas. Ford regulars Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields are there in support, as are Una O’Connor and Cyril McLaglen, Victor’s younger brother. The film’s climax, of course, is the 1916 Easter Rising.

Little Nellie Kelly(1940): Not John Ford, but Hollywood’s take on George M. Cohan’s hit 1922 stage musical-comedy. Judy Garland is always a delight, especially when she belts out “It’s a Great Day for the Irish” in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade number. Ronald Reagan’s old friend George Murphy is there, as well as Arthur Shields in a rare performance without his brother, Barry Fitzgerald.

The Irish in Us (1940): One of nine (!) pairings of Jimmy Cagney and Pat O’Brien, who star as two (of three) Irish-American brothers seeking success in America.

The Fighting 69th (1940): The year 1940 was a banner one for Irish-themed films and The Fighting 69th was made with a specific purpose in mind. As World War II was breaking out in Europe, many Irish-Americans were still seething over what they saw as being asked to fight for Britain in World War I while British troops were repressing Irish nationalists in Ireland. As a result, they were among the most isolationist of voters. The Fighting 69th was one of Hollywood’s many films in this period that were intended to build public support for eventual US intervention.

The film centers on the exploits of the famed New York National Guard regiment in the trenches of World War I. Fan favorite Jimmy Cagney as tough guy Irish street kid Jerry Plunkett enlists and causes mayhem for his superiors and comrades before finding nobility at the end. While Plunkett is a fictional character, Chaplain Father Francis Duffy (Pat O’Brien again), 69th commander William “Wild Bill” Donovan (George Brent), and poet Joyce Kilmer (author of “Trees,” played by Jeffrey Lynn), were real people. William Hopper (Paul Drake on Perry Mason) and George Reeves (Superman) appear in small roles.

My Wild Irish Rose (1947) This fictionalized biopic of tenor Chauncey Olcott features the seriously underrated Dennis Morgan (who also appeared in The Fighting 69th and has a beautiful voice.) If you are simply a fan of musical biopics chockablock with nostalgic song and dance, you are in for a Technicolor treat.

As the Irish assimilated into American society in the 1950s and 1960s, the number of “Irish” films coming out of Hollywood fell off, but not entirely. And other outlets picked up the slack. More worth considering:

The Molly Maguires (1970): Who can resist Sean Connery and Richard Harris? Filmed in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania where the actual events took place, the action follows a detective (Harris) sent to investigate the rumored existence of a secret society among the Irish coal miners dedicated to resisting their exploitation by the mine owners. Connery is the target. The Irish-themed score by Henry Mancini is especially notable.

The Brylcreen Boys (1998):A rom-com that focuses on a little-known aspect of World War II: The Allied and German airmen who crash-landed in neutral Ireland and were interned ─ in the same camp! Directed by Terence Ryan, it stars Billy Campbell, Angus Macfadyen, Jean Butler and Gabriel Byrne. Campbell and Macfayden play rival Canadian and German pilots who fall for the same local Irish girl (Butler), while camp commandant Byrne tries to keep things from getting out of hand.

There are many more, of course: Neil Jordan’s 1996 epic biopic Michael Collins, starring Liam Neeson, 2006’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, both set in revolutionary Ireland, 1997’s The Boxer, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, just released this year.

I’m sure there are ones I’ve missed. So, by all means watch The Quiet Man, but don’t forget that there’s plenty more green on the screen to enjoy.

Here my picks for the ten best films of 2021.

1. Coda: It’s not easy to make a film about disabilities without seeming condescending or patronizing. Coda not only succeeds in this regard but emerges as one of the most pro-family films in years.

2. Mass: A a cinematic hurricane in a bottle. Despite being shot with only four actors in a single room, it was the most emotional film of the year.

3. Luca: This was a gorgeous film that gently yet intelligently documents the trials of early boyhood. It also ironically features Jim Gaffigan as his least favorite food, a fish.

4. Summer of Soul: The 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival was often referred to as “black Woodstock” in the press. It would have been better to call Woodstock “the unenlightened, cheap Harlem Cultural Festival.”

5. Dune: This was a stellar adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic novel under the keen eye of Dennis Villeneuve.

6. Nine Days: If you get a chance, see this film just for the novelty. It imagines an application process for new souls to enter Earth and plays with lots of fun philosophical ideas.

7. Paw Patrol: The Movie: Need a fun kids film full of positive values and free of post-modern nonsense? Just yelp for help!

8. Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Greed, and Betrayal: Bob Ross was famous for his afro, soothing voice, and beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, there were some real corporate shenanigans before his artistic empire.

9. Of Animals and Men: A Polish couple go from a keeper of animals to a keeper of men hiding from the Nazis. A fascinating tale of bravery, faith, and cute otters.

10. Fatherhood: Kevin Hart celebrates the ups and downs of being a dad with humor and grace.

Honorable Mention: Black Widow, Resurrection, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Space Sweepers, and The Woman in the Window

The Undoing

Watch Tree of Life that Dave recommended and Fredrick Douglas- From Slave to Abolitionist; greyhound; Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Reservoir Dogs, A good documentary movie made in early 60s follows a group of traveling door to door bible salesmen. The pressures they are under and ethical dilemmas between making a living and selling very expensive Bibles to, mostly, people who can’t afford them.
Make sure you get “Salesman” by the Maysles brothers, not “Salesmen”, or “The Salesman”.

Ballad of Buster Scruggs; Reservoir Dogs


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Patricia Morgan

    I have most of these movies, but you forgot one
    And I’m shocked!
    “The Court Jester” with Danny Kaye

    Hilarious and great Family movie, and one of our

  2. Paul Schaeffer

    You might take a look at “Blast from the Past”. I didn’t see it on your lists.
    I find it very enjoyable to watch.


  3. Terry DeMao

    I highly recommend HACKSAW RIDGE!!!!!

    STEVE RAY HERE: That is a great movie and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks so much!

  4. T. Koziol

    The Third Miracle is easily one of my top 10 Catholic movies.
    Ed Harris
    Anne Heche
    Armin Mueller-Stahl
    Charles Haid

    STEVE RAY HETE: Thanks!

  5. Dan Hust

    Chariots of Fire
    Le Mesarable
    McFarland, USA
    Darkest Hour,
    Shot in the Dark
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Shadow Lands
    Remains of the Day

    STEVE RAY HERE: I appreciate you adding your good movies to the list. A couple of those are awesome my favorites and I think they’re in my list. But thanks for the others as well. Great list and thanks for sharing!

  6. Dan Hust

    Oops. I’m a second year convert to Catholicism. After 40 years of being a born again evangelical christian
    God used you along with Patrick Madrid and Scott Hahn to bring me into the Catholic Church. My list of movies weren’t Catholic.

    STEVE RAY HERE: welcome home brother! You made my day and I’m so glad you discovered the church like some of us did earlier. Glad we are of some help and thank God you’ve joined us!

  7. Chuck

    Hi steve don’t forget “little boy” your pal Tim Staples is part of thecast!

  8. Lynette Strickland

    We Were Soldiers is about General Hal Moore. We had the privilege to meet him, as he was a parishioner at our church, St Michael the Archangel in Auburn AL after his retirement. He was a faithful Catholic and a good man. His son and his family are very devout, as well.

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