List of movies about Catholics (Catholic history) in the United States

List of movies about Catholics (Catholic history) in the United States March 2, 2013

Movies about Catholics (Catholic History) in the USA I was asked if I had a list of films about American Catholic history, life, events, and people. Since I didn’t, I set out to compile one and asked the help of my good friend and favorite Church historian (and fellow writer at Patheos)  Dr. Pat McNamera After reading the list, please feel free to add to it in the Reply section. Thank you!   Documentaries

Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All

The Miracle of Father Kapuan

Roses in December (Nuns murdered in Central America)

Champions of Faith (Catholic major league baseball players – I love this one)

Champions of Faith- The Bases of Life (more from Catholic major league baseball players)

Saint of 9/11: Story of Fr. Mychal Judge

Deliver Us From Evil – by Amy Berg documentary on sex abuse scandal

Who Killed Sr. Dorothy?

Scenes from A Parish (PBS)

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton: A Prophet Among Us?

The Healing Prophet: Solanus Casey

With God in Russia: A Grace in Perm: The Story of Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (by Alex Gibney)

God is the Bigger Elvis – Story of Dolores Hart;

Terri Schiavo Story   Based on/inspired by true story

Padre on Horseback

Time for Miracles (Life of M. Seton)

The Staircase Molokai: The Story of Father Damien

Entertaining Engels: The Dorothy Day Story

Knute Rockne All American

On the Waterfront – based on John Corridan, subject of James Terence Fisher’s book On the Irish Waterfront

The Fighting Sullivans

True Confessions (Post WWII expansion in the USA; “perils of brick and mortar Catholicism” says Dr. Pat McNamera)

I Confess – Alfred Hitchcock’s tale about a priest and the seal of confession

The Perfect Game (about a Mexican Little League Team that comes to PA to win – twice)

The Angel of Biscay

The Exorcist (the film critic Pauline Kael said that it was the most brilliant piece of Catholic propaganda ever)

The Mighty Macs

Dead Man Walking

The Rite

The Courage to Love – life of Mother Henriette Delille, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family, first African-American congregation of sisters

Fides Ecclesiae – a musical play about the lives and miracles for canonization of St. Pedro Calungson, a Filipino lay missioner martyred in Guam, and St. Kateria Tekakwitha.

Romero – This is an important film because of the alleged role of the U.S. government in Romero’s death



Lilies of the Field

The Godfather I, II

Keeping the Faith

Doubt (sex abuse scandal)

Mass Appeal (about changing from the Latin Mass to English late 1960s)


Diary of a City Priest

Heaven Knows Mr. Allison

The Trouble with Angels

Where Angels Go Trouble Follows

Miracle of the Bells

Bells of St. Mary’s

Going My Way

Boys Town

The Left Hand of God

Come to the Stable

The Devil at 4 O’clock

Sister Act

Sister Act: Back in the Habit

The Courage to Love – Life of Sr. Henriette Delille, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family, first African-American religious congregation in the US

The Cardinal – Otto Preminger’s film about the a priest in Brooklyn that rises through the ranks to become a Cardinal   From Dr. Pat McNamera: Books:

  1. Colleen McDannell, Catholics in the Movies
  2. Anthony Burke Smith, The Look of Catholics 


  1. Blackrobe (1991)—although it deals with 17th c. Canada, I’d use it though for talking about the missionary experience. (I was going to show it to the seminarians, but one objected because it was R rated.)
  2. How about The Fighting 69th with Cagney and Pat O’Brien? Unabashed and uncritical celebration of American Catholic patriotism. I’d suggest comparing that with Dorothy Day’s pacifism
  3. Also, how about Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)? That would be good on urban Catholics.
  4. If you can get hold of it, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1944) is great.
  5. The Gangs of New York (2002). It does cover 19th century urban life
  6. There was a miniseries in 1981 starring Pierce Brosnan titled The Mannions of America. I remember it was pretty good on the Irish Catholics, as was the minseries Captains and Kings from the 1970’s with Richard Jordan.

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