To Watch or Not to Watch

Be not afraid … to watch movies. Okay, so I know many Catholics struggle trying to find a good movie to watch, something family-friendly, something that wouldn’t make you feel bad because you know that your guardian angel is watching, too. Lots of Catholics simply give up. They say that there are just too many bad movies out there and they would rather give up watching all movies, than stumble upon another bad one. But that’s not the answer. Have you ever heard the saying, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater?” It means don’t throw out something valuable with the garbage. Now many people might say to me, “Anna, we know this, but we just don’t want to risk it.” Let me assure you that with just a little investigation, you will probably find yourself amazed at how many good, clean, well-made movies you’ve been missing out on! I watched forty-five movies this summer. Forty-five. The vast majority of which I had never seen before. How did I do it? I’ll give you my three tricks:

  1. I check IMDB’s parent’s guide. It provides you with five categories:
    1. Sex and nudity
    2. Violence and Gore
    3. Profanity
    4. Alcohol, Drugs, & Smoking
    5. Frightening & Intense Scenes
  2. I keep in mind that movies from the late 1930s to the mid-to-late 1950s are practically always clean. I haven’t seen all of them, so I can’t vouch for all of them, but everything I’ve seen, and I’ve seen hundreds of movies, have been clean. Also, keep in mind that this is in regard to movies made in America. I cannot vouch for Europe and England.
  3. If I like a movie, I look up who the actors, producers, directors, and screen and script writers are.  Chances are, they made more of such movies. For example, Frank Capra, a devout Catholic, directed “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He also made “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Meet John Doe,” and “It Happened One Night.” They are all wholesome and all considered classics. Capra also directed many more movies besides these.

Finally, I want to leave you with a little list of great, safe, and well-made entertainment to start you off on your many movie adventures.

  1. “Going My Way” (1944) – It won seven Academy Awards, including best director, best, actor, and best picture. It’s about the beauty of the priesthood. Both of the lead actors who played priests took home Oscars.
  2. “A Man for All Seasons” (1966) – Okay, so if you are a Catholic, I would say it just might be sinful if you haven’t seen this one! I’m joking of course, but it really is one of the most Catholic movies in motion picture history. It’s the story of St. Thomas More. It won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. Yes, Paul Scofield, who played St. Thomas More won Best Actor. He won it in the United States for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, as well as The British Academy Film Awards (like our Oscars but for the British). What are you waiting for? Go watch it!
  3. “Angels in the Outfield” (1951) – A heartwarming, explicitly Catholic film about baseball! Plus, the Pittsburg Pirates actually have a winning team!
  4. “The Quiet Man” (1952) – A happy and beautiful movie about Catholics, marriage, and Ireland. Best to watch with a beer on St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll love it!
  5. “Woman’s World” (1954) – A drama about marriage, about the toils, trials, and triumphs the workplace has in store for both husbands, wives, and family life. It’s funny, it’s serious, and it’s implicitly Catholic.
  6. “Cheaper by the Dozen” (1950) – The original, based on the true story, which takes a delicious stab at Planned Parenthood and birth control, and happily shows off the happy beauty of big families. I won’t say any more. It’s too delightful. Too deliciously funny to spoil!
  7. “The Thrill of It All” (1963) – The kind of rom-com I wish Hallmark would make! It’s about a housewife, who gets a job doing soap commercials, accidentally neglecting her home, husband, and children. The film highlights the how wonderful it is to have babies and it is very, very, funny. It’s great for a night with the girls, or even with the guys!
  8. Finally, three modern movies I recommend watching are: “Hugo” (2011), “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” (2007), and “War Horse” (2011). These are great films to watch with anyone, but I know that boys especially like them. I have six brothers, ranging from a junior here at Franciscan to a nine-year-old back home, who all love these movies.

Again, this is just to start you off, and hopefully to get you to hunger after more movies. There’s just so much good stuff out there! I stumble on something great almost every week. Remember what Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). Don’t be afraid to look! Jesus wants you to enjoy the good things in this life, and that includes good movies. So, what are you waiting for? Go get your friends together and watch a movie!