Movies Depicting the Church Incorrectly

I’m sure it’s still here.

I can’t find it easily. It was in early December 2019. I’m on my phone so it’s quite hard to do advanced searches at the moment.

It was called something like “I’m the producer of CBS series ‘Evil’”.

Can someone else locate it?

1 Like

Thanks for ruining an old favorite. :angry: Kidding. Your points are well-taken. :slight_smile:

OK, my turn. In A League of Their Own, members of the women’s baseball team show up at Confession. Madonna’s character, reputed for her, um, ill repute, leaves the confessional smugly for her penance.

The priest bursts out of the confessional, sweating and horrified and leaving it to the viewer’s imagination what awful, (and probably sexual), sins she committed.

First of all, truly contrite people don’t look as smug as Madonna. Second, Confession is a non-judgmental process. Priests don’t slam down Bibles to scold you. (Did they pre-Vatican II, asks this Gen-Xer?)

And finally, sorry-not-sorry, you can’t shock a priest like that. In fact, you can’t shock a priest at all. They’ve heard it all.

1 Like

Yeah that’s a bit cliched alright. Obviously written to play to Madonna’s ‘bad girl’ image. Right now given Madonna’s multiple injuries it’s more a case of ‘time to drop the acrobatics from the stage show’ like Prince she is simply getting to long in the tooth for them and she is in great shape for a woman her age but the constant injury level should tell her to reshape the shows a bit at this point.

They did make it quite a young priest. Maybe it was his first month of hearing confessions.

I think you completely missed the point of the movie. But then, as you say, you haven’t actually seen the movie. It’s worth seeing. This is what the killer says to the priest at the opening of the movie:

What good would it do anyway, if he were still alive? What’d be the point in killing the bastard? That’d be no news. There’s no point in killing a bad priest. But killing a good one? That’d be a shock now. They wouldn’t know what to make of that. I’m going to kill you, Father. I’m going to kill you 'cause you’ve done nothing wrong. I’m going to kill you 'cause you’re innocent.

He adds:

Killing a priest on a Sunday. That’ll be a good one.

The film actually shows a profound understanding of the role and nature of the priesthood. The parishioner is of course familiar with the idea that the priest represents Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass. However, this priest will represent Christ in a more literal way. On Sunday, he will not only offer the sacrifice of the Mass, but he will also become a sacrifice himself. Because he is innocent, he has been chosen to suffer death on behalf of all priests. He will go to his death, more or less willingly, knowing that he is to be given as a sinless offering on behalf of the sins of others. This is, of course, why the movie is called Calvary. The beach on which the priest will die is his own personal Calvary, emphasizing yet more clearly how the priest is reenacting the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Brendan Gleeson is a wonderful actor. His performance is quite extraordinary, something that has stayed with me for years afterwards.


For years after my conversion, I had to get over the fact that the Catholic Church that lived in my mind from movies and books simply did not exist.

I expected to find a kindly old priest who had witnessed your marriage, baptized your babies, and then witnessed the marriage of your adult kids. I expected to find a younger priest who would be found “sorting through donations” for the parish rummage sale, also who went out and worked in soup kitchens (cooking the soup himself of course!) He also led the choir, taught in the school and coached CYO basketball (the old priest coached CYO boxing).

I expected the Church building to be open 24 X 7 and a priest available on any dark, stormy night when one needed solace or confession.

Every parish was associated with a Convent.

When I look at it that way, every old movie has depicted the Church incorrectly.

In that way, I think the Church has been

1 Like

The old movies’ depictions of the Church pre-Vatican II was not all that far off from how the Church was at that time, e.g. the kindly old priest who had spent decades at the same parish, etc.
Times have changed.

Some of the newer movies have done a good job of depicting more current manifestations of the Church. My favorite post-Vatican II movie depicting the Church is “Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows”. It humorously portrays the conflict between some “old school” sisters and a new, young, activist sister who goes on protest marches every weekend and is much beloved by the Catholic school students they teach. The sisters and students later go on a road trip where they meet a “hip” priest who is the head of a boys’ Catholic school. If one grew up a Catholic in the late 60s and early 70s, one would have met all of these types. Some of them are still keeping up the same activities into old age.

1 Like

But was there any actual proof that the OP of that thread was who he or she claimed to be?

I felt the same way about Two Popes.

1 Like

I think they were real.

I have no proof, however.

I don’t think they were lying.

I can’t know for sure.

Does anyone know how to locate the thread?

It was from early December 2019.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Two Popes. I did not see it as a hit piece. To me, it exposed both men, their strengths and their weaknesses, but mainly their love for the Church and it’s people.

1 Like

Good films: The Song of Bernadette:

Good/bad: I Confess (it goes in & out of flashbacks so one has to really pay attention to the dialogue):

The Quiet Man (note how Ward Bond [the priest] and Arthur Shields [Barry Fitzgerald’s brother who played the minister] play their respective roles):


‘The Quiet Man’ was concerned with trying to suggest the problematic sectarian divides in Ireland were ones that could be addressed by mutual respect. Mind you, the ‘The Quiet Man’ is a great movie but even the director admitted he was dealing with a somewhat unreal picture of Ireland. The movie is somewhat tongue in cheek and I don’t find the critique that is ‘stage Irish’ you sometimes hear convincing. It’s an idealized version of the country, a fairy tale of sorts and a tribute by Ford to the land of his ancestors.

At least it was kinder to the Irish than dreck like “Ryan’s Daughter”. I know Alec Guinness refused to play the priest in “Ryan’s Daughter” because he didn’t think the character was an accurate representation of how a Catholic priest would act. I don’t have an issue with the priest character in that film - Guinness was a convert and probably didn’t have a full understanding of the spectrum of how Catholic priests act, plus he had other differences with director Lean from a past movie and probably just wanted to get out of making the picture. However, although I am okay with the priest character who is probably the second most decent person in the film behind Robert Mitchum, that movie sure did portray the Irish in a terrible light (as well as once again emphasizing David Lean’s obsession with adulterous wives which seems to be the theme of most if not all of his movies).

Gleeson is a fantastic actor, one who should be far more famous. His turn as a corrupt policeman in ‘The Guard’ is one you might also have seen. He slowly redeems himself. ‘In Bruges’ is another fabulous movie.

Haven’t seen ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ since around age six or seven. At that age I was far, far too young to understand it of course and just remember it on the telly at home. Guinness is famous for portraying Father Brown as well mind you. I’m familiar with the basic plot of the movie but I’d want to re-watch is an adult before commenting, especially as it is about the revolutionary era and movies about that run the gamut of terrible to fantastic.

Looking at the plot line the stripping sequence and shearing of hair is unlikely. That’s obviously been borrowed from the fate of women who collaborated with Germans in occupied France but the woman would likely suffer stigma in this period. But it would be more subtle and that seems on first inspection over-done. It’s a fairly lengthy movie but maybe I shall re-watch it and get my father’s thoughts as well as he is closer in time to the era being much older than me. He often finds when British directors have a go at Irish subjects they er muck it up. That said the two best recent movies about Irish historical events I can think of were made by a black guy from Britain and an Englishman.

‘Hunger’ which is by Steve McQueen, the aforementioned black guy deals with the 1981 Hunger Strikes and in particular Bobby Sands. The scene with Sands talking with a priest is fantastic and is one of the longest static camera shots on record. The camera stays static for 17 minutes with the priest and Sands talking about the morality of using a hunger strike as a weapon.

I’ve not seen either of those yet. I think one of them was on Netflix and then disappeared? He was brilliant in Suffragette as Inspector Steed. He was possibly the most complex character in that movie, because it was unclear whose side he was on. As a police officer, he represented the Establishment, the status quo, the forces of law and coercion. But he was also on the side of the women. He clearly cared about them. When he tried to urge them to desist from their protests, it was because he couldn’t bear to see what they were suffering as a result. He seemed to be a kind man who just didn’t think that the right to vote was worth what they were prepared to go through to achieve it. I also saw him in Paddington 2, Trespass Against Us, and Hampstead. Like you say, I don’t know why he’s not as famous as actors like Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, etc.

Luck of the draw. Patrick Stewart is of course mainly famous due to Star Trek. Before that he was not so well known, moderately successful is about the best you can say of his career up to that point. Gleeson is not so easy to slot into roles either which would become iconic I’d say.

The Roman collar could also indicate one of several Anglican or Lutheran or even Methodist denominations.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit