While you all have been wasting your lives on Twitter and FB, I’ve been watching movies. Tons and tons of movies. I’ve been reading, too, and a bunch of other stuff.

But at night, after a hard day of people being mean, people not saying thank you, people not honoring their commitments–after a hard day, in other words, of being me–since last March when lockdown began I have watched QUITE A FEW movies.

To that end, I’ve compiled a list of pairings of some perhaps lesser-known films—or old favorites—that have entertained, consoled, and delighted, both over the years and more recently. A few of the headings need to be fleshed out; e.g. Films in Which Weaselly Playboy Marries Dying Woman So He Can Grab the Dough—but I’ll get there.

You can find the whole insane list, which goes on and on, HERE (I spent so much time compiling that I’ve made it its own separate page). You may recognize the intro, which is copied and pasted from an Angelus column I did last year.

Anyway, a tiny sampling:

Bad Babysitter Movies: The Nanny (1965) Watch out, Master Joey! Dir. Seth Holt, Bette Davis at her most over-the-top, Wendy Craig, Jill Bennett, a Hammer Film Production that teeters between camp and genuine emotion; The Innocents (1961), prod. Jack Clayton. Based on the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw. Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave, and the same scary kid, Martin Stephens, who’s in Village of the Damned (an “Evil Children” movie).

Movies About Japanese Prostitutes: (there are a million of these) When A Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960), dir.  Mikio Naruse, Hideko Takamine, Masayuki Mori: Keiko, a young widow and Ginza nightclub hostess tries to open her own business; Street of Shame (1956) dir. Kenji Mizoguchi; several Japanese women of various personal and socioeconomic backgrounds work together in a brothel.

Films about Priests that Portray Them as Other than Venal Dotards, Power-mad Monsters, or Child Molestors: Leon Morin, Priest (1961) dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva. In a town in the French Alps during the Occupation, a lonely, sexually frustrated lapsed-Catholic widow, living with her little girl is also a communist militant. One day she enters a church and randomly chooses a priest to confess to and, while in confessional, attempts to provoke him by criticizing Catholicism. Instead he engages her in an intellectual discussion regarding religion and the two enter into a complicated Platonic relationship; The Prisoner (1955) Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins. “In an unnamed East European country where communist tyranny has recently replaced Nazi tyranny, a Cardinal (Guinness) is falsely accused of treason. The Cardinal had withstood torture when he opposed the Nazis, so the regime knows it will not be able to use force to get him to make a false confession. The Interrogator (Hawkins), an old associate of the Cardinal’s but now a Communist, is given the task of persuading him to make a public confession” [wiki]; Into Great Silence (2005) dir. Philip Gröning. The Grand Chartreuse, a monastery high in the French Alps, and the Carthusians who live and pray there. Possibly the greatest religious documentary ever made.

Films About Nuns That Portray Them As Other Than Repressed Nymphomaniacs Or Sadistic Lesbians: Help me out here.

Happy watching!


  1. A very eclectic list – wow! For your Films about Nuns, etc., In This House of Brede (1975) immediately came to mind but I doubt made for TV movies count, right?

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh wow, the whole film is avail on YouTube, folks–looks great! Oh sure, made-for-TV is fine. Can’t wait to watch this, Ann, thank you! From a review in Spirituality and Practice: “This fine drama about the long hard task of dimming the ego and learning to love even those who irritate us has been adapted by James Costigan from Rumer Godden’s novel. It is directed by George Schaefer. Philippa Talbot (Diana Rigg) is a talented London businesswoman who has decided to give up her position and power to become a nun. The man who loves her is in shock over her departure from his life.”

  2. Kathleen OConnell says: Reply

    Thanks so much Heather. You’ve given me some great ideas

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      My pleasure, Kathleen!

  3. Patti Cassidy says: Reply


    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Isn’t Meryl Streep super mean, though? Also it was made after 1965. 🙂 I’ve been on a Philip Seymour Hoffman kick and might give Doubt a watch! Thanks, Patti–

  4. Thanks for all this! Now, I don’t feel so guilty about watching so many movies and reading so many books.

  5. Lisa Porter says: Reply

    I also thought of In This House of Brede, both the movie with Diana Rigg and the novel by Rumer Godden. I love that book!

  6. Thank you for sharing, Heather! And I, myself, have had enough of the mean people..

  7. What of “Babettes Feast”? A richly rewarding drama of redemption, grace and mercy.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Philippe, good God, the “sisters” in Babette’s Feast were PROTESTANTS! Kidding…well, there ya go…Certainly a universally beloved film and the Lord knows I revere Isak Dinesen–thank you.

  8. ANN APPLEGARTH says: Reply

    Bells of St. Mary’s, Sound of Music, The Trouble with Angels, Come to the Stable, Song of Bernadette,
    the Nun’s Story, Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, Lilies of the Field, The Singing Nun

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thanks, Ann, have been meaning to check out The Nun’s Story, so this gives me a nudge. My sensibility in “religious” movies probably runs more in the vein of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, Leon Morin or The Prisoner (the last two blurbed under Movies About Priests)…Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew. It’s very difficult, I think, to portray on film the existential struggle of “the religious question”–the weight of it, what’s at stake. A soul truly wrestling with God, and suffering…I was also aiming to mention films that perhaps aren’t especially well-known. But these are great suggestions, especially for family viewing, so check them out, people! Thanks again.

  9. Mr. Bradley says: Reply

    If you ever get tired of your day job you’ve got a future booking movies at a virtual art house theater. The category headings alone are worth the price of admission. A couple of additions for your programming schedule:
    Most Evil Femme Fatale—“Body Heat” the 1981 neo-noir erotic thriller that launched Kathleen Turner’s career. Double yikes.
    Films About Gambling—“House Of Games” which marked David Mamet’s 1987 directorial debut. Con men gone wild in another neo-noir thriller.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Wonderful, re-watched Body Heat along with The Last Seduction, which I’d never seen before, last year–def a tossup. Women with the souls of cobras, Kathleen and Linda!
      House of Games I also saw years ago and have bookmarked to re-visit since also (re-)watching Glengarry Glen Ross on Kanopy a few weeks ago. Jack Lemmon, my God! Actually, the whole ensemble. What incredible acting and nice to see Pacino before he got so mannered. But anyway–yes, David Mamet. Thank you, Mr. Bradley!!

      1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

        Added Body Heat.

  10. Linda M Scuderi says: Reply

    I do keep trying to thank you for all of the information, thought provoking words, and inspiration you provide, but I don’t seem to be able to understand how to send comments back to you. I’ll just keep trying.

  11. Linda M Scuderi says: Reply

    It worked! Thank you so much for the list of movies……there are always so many to choose from. Now I have so many more!! Bless you, Heather.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      There ya go, Linda! Thanks, and so glad you spotted some films that caught your fancy…

  12. Bob Rueger says: Reply

    Many thanks for this blog. We are always looking for movies to view & in our case we really appreciate the flicks that are closed captioned. I sure hope a lot of your recommendations are. We order them fro our local Venice FL library. They have a big selection & we are hoping that they have the majority of your recommendations & CC. We, my wife Stella & I, are definitely on the downward slope of life, @ the least physically, & we so enjoy a good movie. One that really stood out on your list – Diary of a Country Priest, that we have watched many times – a favorite of ours. The CC DVD’s work out so much better for us, but @ any rate thanks again.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Great, Bob, right checking each of those films for CC status would be a bit beyond my pay range so we must be on our own there. But I hear you: esp in British films I often like to have the captions because I can’t fully understand the accents. So glad to know of any Diary of a Country Priest fan…All is grace…even if we feel like utter worldly failures.


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