Archbishop Fulton Sheen on the Silver Screen

Saturday, July 31, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

A new documentary on the life of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will be shown in movie theaters as pre-release screenings.  It will also be available in DVD format (TBD).

A brief synopsis of the film is provided by the distributor (with minor editing):

“Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” is a one-hour documentary that tells the story of Sheen and the tremendous impact he had on individuals, the Catholic community, the American public, and the world. Divided into five main sections, the film uses still images, video footage and interviews with those who knew Sheen to tell the story of this remarkable man, gifted teacher, missionary, priest, and loyal son of the Church.

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Sneak Peak At There Be Dragons Movie Trailer

Thursday, July 29, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

UPDATE at the BOTTOM

The famous director of the movies The Mission and The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, has just released a trailer teaser to his new film he is producing that encapsulates the early life of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

The film is about a news reporter investigating the life of his father where he discovers that his father was a lifelong friend of Saint Josemaria Escriva.

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C.S. Lewis Book, The Great Divorce, Coming to the Big Screen

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

The following is from Alex Birko of the A.V. Club reporting on C.S. Lewis‘s book, The Great Divorce, being produced into a movie:

Last week marked the arrival of the trailer for the third “Chronicles Of Narnia” movie, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, and as everybody knows, C.S. Lewis news always comes in twos. It appears that Lewis’ religious allegory The Great Divorce is the latest of his work be slated for the big screen, according to Variety’s announcement that production studios Beloved Pictures and Mpower Pictures are joining forces to co-produce. Children’s author N.D. Wilson, known for the 100 Cupboards fantasy trilogy and his parodies of the Left Behind series, is attached to adapt the screenplay. With luck, the arrival of Mpower (The Stoning Of Soroya M.) will jump-start the project, and let it avoid the seemingly never-ending gestation plaguing the film adaptation of Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, which was announced back in 2006, scheduled for a 2008 release, and delayed until 2010. It’s seen little discernable progress since.

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Under the Roman Sky

Monday, June 21, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

A new film, Under the Roman Sky, starring James Cromwell as Pius XII, details the heroic efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews of Rome from the Nazis, after Rome came under Nazi occupation subsequent to the fall of Mussolini following the Allied invasion of southern Italy in 1943.

Rabbi David G. Dalin, in his review of a Moral Reckoning, a tome by Daniel Goldhagen which sought to blame Catholicism for the Holocaust, details the efforts of the Pope to save the Jews of Rome:

Goldhagen’s centerpiece is the outrageous allegation that Pius XII “did not lift a finger to forfend the deportations of the Jews of Rome” or of other parts of Italy “by instructing his priests and nuns to give the hunted Jewish men, women and children sanctuary.”  Much of this is lifted straight from anti-Pius books like Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows–and thus Goldhagen repeats the errors of those books and adds extras, all his own, in his determined attempt to extend their thesis into over-the-top railings against the sheer existence of Catholicism.

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Sergeant York and Gary Cooper-Part II

Thursday, June 10, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

Continuing on from the first part of this post on Sergeant York and Gary Cooper.

Frank James Cooper, a\k\a Gary Cooper, was a child of the last century, being born into it on May 7, 1901, the son of Charles and Alice Cooper.  Unlike Alvin C. York, Cooper was born into a prosperous family, his father being a farmer turned attorney who would eventually serve on the Montana Supreme Court.  His parents were English immigrants from Bedfordshire, and from 1910-1913, Gary and his brother were educated in England.

After high school, Cooper went on to study at Grinnell College for a few years, although he did not receive a degree.  After an unsuccessful attempt to earn a living as an editorial cartoonist in Helena, he followed his parents out to Los Angeles where they had retired.  Cooper later said that if he was going to starve, he might as well do it where it was warm rather than where it was freezing.

Out in the land of fruits and nuts, Cooper tried his hand at many things in order to earn a living:  promoter for a  photographer, a seller of electrical signs and even applied for work as an ink-stained wretch at a newspaper.  Out of desperation for employment rather than any burning desire to be an actor, Cooper began to work as an extra in movies.  A friend, Nan Collins, advised him to change his name to Gary after her hometown of Gary, Indiana, and Cooper took her advice.  After several years as an extra, Cooper achieved early stardom in the western, The Virginian.   Although he would appear in every type of film imaginable in his career, Cooper always appeared most comfortable in Westerns, a genre which fit his understated, laid back acting style, and his laconic speech.  Cooper specialized in playing ordinary decent men, trying to do their best in extraordinary situations.  He also had a flair for comedy where his dead pan delivery, combined with a dry wit, ensured laughter whatever “funny” lines he was attempting to deliver.

The archetypal film during this period of his career for Cooper was The Westerner where he played a cowboy who tangled with “Judge” Roy Bean, “Law West of the Pecos”, magnificently portrayed by Walter Brennan who appeared with Cooper in several films, including Sergeant York as York’s pastor.  The film is a skillful mixture of comedy and drama, with Cooper giving a bravura performance.

Alvin C. York had been approached by Hollywood producer Jesse Lasky several times, beginning in 1919, to make a movie of his life.  Each time he refused, summing up his position simply with the phrase, “This uniform ain’t for sale.”

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Gibbon, Hypatia and Bigotry

Monday, June 7, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

One of my favorite historians is Edward Gibbon.  I have made my way through his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire several times.  I find his style entertaining, his wit dry, and his scholarship, for his time, adequate.  Unfortunately Gibbon was also an anti-Catholic bigot, in part a reaction to a brief conversion to the Faith as a teen-ager, which exposed him to considerable paternal displeasure.  His bigotry is on full display whenever he treats of the Church, but usually he does not distort the facts.  That was not the case in his account of the female philosopher Hypatia, and the fate she met in Egypt in 391 AD.  That account, usually in distorted form, is a staple of anti-Catholic and atheist websites.  Now Hypatia is the heroine of a Catholic bashing movie Agora. The English trailer of the movie is at the top of this post.  David Hart has a superb post at First Things correcting Gibbon and the movie.

The occasion of my misery is the release of Alejandro Amenábar’s film Agora, which purports to be a historical account of the murder of the female philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob in the early fifth century, of the destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria, and (more generally) of an alleged conflict that raged in the ancient world between Greek science and Christian faith. I have not actually seen the movie, and have no intention of doing so (I would say you couldn’t pay me to watch it, but that’s not, strictly speaking, true). All I know about it is what I have read in an article by Larry Rohter in the New York Times. But that is enough to put my teeth on edge.

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The Infidel

Saturday, February 20, 2010 \PM\.\Sat\.

A comedy from the U.K. where a devout British Muslim finds out he was not born a Muslim.

Watch the rest of the trailer for some really good English humour!


Go For Broke

Monday, February 8, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

My wife gave me for my birthday on Saturday a compilation collection of 15 World War II films.  I immediately noticed one of the titles:  Go For Broke (1951).  It had been over thirty years since I last viewed that film and I watched it last night and greatly enjoyed it.

Go For Broke, tells the story of the 442nd regimental combat team during World War II.  Made up of first generation Japanese-Americans, Nisei, the 442nd, along with the 100th Infantry battalion, made up of Nisei from Hawaii and which became associated with the 442nd, fought in Italy, France and Germany.   Many of the Japanese-American actors in the film were combat veterans of the 442nd which lends the film a very realistic, almost documentary feel, especially in the combat sequences.

The film opens in 1943 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi where the men of the 442nd are being trained.  Van Johnson, portraying Lieutenant Michael Grayson, is a “90 day wonder”, an enlisted man commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant after completing a 90 days officer’s candidate school.  Prior to officer’s candidate school he had been a member of the 36th National Guard Division, one of several National Guard units from Texas that fought in World War II, sometimes waggishly refered to as the Texan Army.   Grayson was hoping that he would be reassigned to the 36th and is dismayed to find that he will be leading Japanese-American troops, sharing to the full the prejudice that most Americans felt against everything Japanese following Pearl Harbor.  He immediately asks Colonel Charles W. Pence, portrayed by Warner Anderson, for a transfer to the 36th.  Pence quickly realizes, despite the denials of Grayson, that he is prejudiced against the Japanese-Americans, and informs him in no uncertain terms that his men are loyal Americans, that there will no be transfer, and that he is to take up his duties as a platoon commander, a 40 man unit, immediately.  The scene shifts to the platoon, where the men are relaxing in the barracks.  Other than their ancestry, and different slang, viewers quickly realize that they are like other American soldiers, griping about the Army, wondering what is going on back home, playing craps, etc.  Grayson and his men are a poor fit initially, but he does his job and helps turn them into soldiers.  Read the rest of this entry »


Res et Explicatio for AD 2-3-2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Salvete TAC readers!

Here are my Top Picks in the Internet from the world of the Catholic Church and secular culture:

1. On ABC’s “This Week” this past Sunday Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post accused Glenn Beck of “inciting the American people” to commit violence against Obama by talking about “people being slaughtered.”

Here is Glenn Beck’s response from last night:

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Forget the film, run the trailer!

Monday, January 11, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

From the only reliable source of news on the net, The Onion.  Not uncommonly, I have enjoyed a trailer more than the film.  As to Iron Man, I loved the film.  It was the most hilarious take on a superhero I have ever witnessed.  Seeing Iron Man learning how to fly in his suit was worth the price of admission.  How a washed up drug addict like Robert Downey, Jr.,  successfully resurrected his career as a comedic action hero is one of the more interesting entertainment stories of the last few years.

Here is the trailer for Iron Man 2:


The Three Godfathers

Thursday, December 17, 2009 \AM\.\Thu\.

John Wayne in a Christmas movie?  Yep, The Three Godfathers in 1948!   Another fruitful John Ford and John Wayne collaboration, the film was released in December 1948.  Three bank robbers, John Wayne, Pedro Armedariz and Harry Carey, Jr.,  stumble across a dying woman and her newborn son in a desert in the American Southwest.  The three outlaws, although they are attempting to elude a posse, promise the dying woman to look after her son.

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Advent and John the Baptist

Friday, December 11, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

In Advent my thoughts frequently turn to John the Baptist, the last, and the greatest, of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ.  The Jews lived in expectation for many centuries for the coming of the Anointed One, the Christ.  It was left for the Baptist to be His final herald.  His cries for repentance in preparing the way for the Lord are a useful reminder to us as to the proper spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Of the film portrayals of John the Baptist, my favorite is that of Charlton Heston in the movie The Greatest Story Ever Told, who conveys well the sheer force of the Baptist’s message and the courage with which he conveyed it.  John came to testify to the Truth and nothing would stop him from doing it, not even death as the last 2000 years can attest.


No Islamic Holy Sites Destroyed in 2012 Movie, Fear of Fatwa

Thursday, November 5, 2009 \AM\.\Thu\.

Grand Mosque of Mecca

Due to the fear of a death threat in the form of a fatwa from Muslim scholars, movie director Roland Emmerich chose not to shoot any scenes depicting the destruction of Islamic holy sites in his new end-of-the-world film, 2012.  Though Roland Emmerich says this did not stop him when filming scenes depicting the destruction of Christian landmarks such as the Sistine Chapel, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.  He wanted to make sure his views of opposition to “organized religion” were not soft-pedaled in the movie 2012.

Of course, “organized religion” is a euphemism for the apostolic churches of the Catholic and Orthodox faiths.  Hence why you’ll see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica topple over in the 2012 film and not the Ka’aba inside the Grand Mosque of Mecca collapse.

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Movie About Saint Josemaria Escriva

Sunday, November 1, 2009 \AM\.\Sun\.

There Be Dragons

A new movie about Saint Josemaria Escriva’s early years placed during the Spanish Civil War has been produced and will be released in 2010 A.D. titled, There Be Dragons.

Saint Josemaria Escriva was born in 1902 A.D. in Barbastro, Spain.  Later at the age of 26 in Madrid Saint Josemaria started the apostolate that would eventually be called the Work of God, or simply Opus Dei, in pre-Civil War Spain in October of 1928 A.D.  Opus Dei would experience delays in progress with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 A.D.  This is the period that the setting of the movie is placed in.

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Installation Scene From Becket

Friday, October 23, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

In honor of the Anglican initiative of Pope Benedict this week, a reminder of the history of Catholic England, when Catholics were willing to stand against the State if need be to protect the Honor of God.   Becket (1964), although inheriting the historical howlers that existed in the play, and were known by the playwright Jean Anouilh who wisely preferred a poetic story to prosaic fact,  (Becket was Norman not Saxon, Henry II was not a crowned juvenile delinquent, the armor, as is usual in medieval epics, is all wrong for the period, etc.), this classic film helped awaken in me a desire to learn about the history of the Church.  With masterful performances by Richard Burton as “the holy blessed martyr” and Peter O’Toole as Henry II, the film brought alive to me as a child the high Middle Ages.  The installation sequence brought home to me the important role of ceremony, tradition and symbolism in our Faith, a lesson I have never forgotten.


Saint Josemaria Escriva Film In The Works

Friday, September 4, 2009 \PM\.\Fri\.

St. Josemaria Escriva audience

A film based on Saint Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, is being filmed in Argentina titled, There Be Dragons.  The movie is set in the years running up and including the Spanish Civil War.

There Be Dragons is being directed by Roland Joffe, the same director who filmed The Mission which starred Robert Di Niro and Jeremy Irons about Jesuit missionaries in 18th century South America.  The movie will Scottish star Dougray Scott of Mission Impossible II fame as a reporter and English star Charlie Cox as the saint himself.

Father John Wauck of Opus Dei seems to be the adviser to Mr. Joffe.  Mr. Joffe rejected an earlier script provided by Opus Dei for one that he wrote and has said he experienced no interference whatsoever from the personal prelature which is funding the film.

The expected release date is Summer or Autumn of next year (2010).

_._

To read more about the film, There Be Dragons, by The Catholic Herald of Britain click here.

To learn more about Saint Josemaria Escriva de Blaguer click here.

To learn more about Opus Dei click here.

To read more about the film The Mission click here.

For more information on There Be Dragons click here.


The 13th Day

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 \PM\.\Wed\.

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 10:33 pm CST for 8-20-2009 AD]

The 13th Day is a film based on the true story of the Marian apparitions to three shepherd children at Fatima Portugal on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on 13 May.  The three children were Lucia Santos and her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto.  These apparitions at Fatima were officially declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

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“50 Best Catholic films of all time”

Monday, August 17, 2009 \AM\.\Mon\.

William Park (InsideCatholic.com) lists, in his judgement, “the fifty best Catholic movies of all time”.

Some readers, myself included, were very surprised by the absence of The Mission. A magnificent cast (including Robert DeNiro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson); a play by Robert Bolt (A Man for All Seasons) — it has, in my estimation, one of the most powerful illustrations of penance and forgiveness in cinema.

The Mission deservedly won seven Academy Awards, and made the top 15 films under ‘Religion’ selected by the Vatican, commemorating 100 years of cinema.

So why didn’t it make the list? — the author doesn’t offer much of an explanation, save that “Bolt’s screenplay for The Mission looks at the Church from the point of view of Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor.” Steven D. Greydanus, however, explores the complexities and ambiguities of The Mission for DecentFilms.com.

Question for our readers: do you agree with the list? — Do you agree with Warren’s list? Any notable omissions? What would you have selected?


Banned in Iran

Friday, June 26, 2009 \AM\.\Fri\.

A bit repetitious of Darwin Catholic’s earlier post on this subject, but I think this is a movie very much worth seeing.  Topical doesn’t begin to describe the film The Stoning of Soraya M. that is opening this weekend.  Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo and James Caviezel, and based on the novel of the same name, the film describes in harrowing detail the story of the stoning of a young bride in Iran.  I would like to be able to say that such things do not really occur under mullah-ruled Iran.  Alas, such stonings are very much a grim reality.  Worthy of a Monty Python skit, stonings have been defended by the head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Committee.

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The Real Sermon on the Waterfront

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 \AM\.\Wed\.

Hattip to the ever reticent lads and lasses at Lair of the Catholic Cavemen.    Probably the most powerful sermon ever placed on film, Father Barry speaks of Christ and his crucifixion on the docks.  The best performance Karl Malden ever gave.  Elia Kazan’s masterpiece, On the Waterfront  (1954) was also his response to the criticism he received for naming names before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.

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Silly Inspiration, Real Inspiration

Sunday, January 25, 2009 \AM\.\Sun\.

Hattip to The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen for bringing this charming and silly video to my attention.

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22 Weeks

Thursday, January 22, 2009 \PM\.\Thu\.

I haven’t seen 22 weeks yet, but I’m going to, and I think all pro-lifers should.  It brings home the ugly reality of abortion and the bitter grief and despair that inexorably, in this world or the next, each abortion brings.  Here is a review.  May God forgive us all for this great evil that flourishes in our land and in our world.  Abortion is the ultimate taking of the gracious gift of life, and spitting in the face of He who granted it.   Humanity has the capacity for so much good, and this great evil drags us down lower, much lower, than the innocent beasts.  I pray that I will live to see the day when abortion will be viewed with the same horror that we now view slavery.