Posted by highhurdler on April 8, 2007
The Sign of the Cross (1932) – from the producer-director that gave us two cinematic versions of The Ten Commandments; Cecil B. DeMille also produced and directed this pre-code biblical epic about the beginnings of Christianity near the end of the Roman Empire, e.g. Nero (Charles Laughton) fiddles while Rome burns. The great Roman warrior-hero Marcus (Fredric March) falls for a Christian girl (Elissa Landi) during a time when those that believed in the teachings of Jesus secretly identified themselves to one another by scratching a mark resembling His cross in the sand. Claudette Colbert portrays Emperor Nero’s wife Poppaea, who covets warrior Marcus. Ian Keith plays the equally jealous Tigellinus, who manipulates the weak Emperor into asserting that the Christians are to blame for Rome's burning in order that they might be rounded up and fed to lions, bears, & alligators (and even crushed by elephants) as entertainment for spectators in the Colosseum. See it June 6th on TCM. Another version of this story is Quo Vadis.
The Green Pastures (1936) – a series of Old Testament Bible stories uniquely retold (and sung) in more contemporary settings by an all-Black cast, including musical accompaniment by the Hall Johnson Choir. Rex Ingram plays De Lawd (God) and Adam (Myrtle Anderson plays Eve) while others portray the angel Gabriel, Noah (Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson), Moses & Pharaoh, and Cain & Abel; Clinton Rosemond also appears as a prophet. Songs sung by the choir include: Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho and de Walls Came Tumblin’ Down, De Old Ark's A-Moverin’, Let My People Go, Run Sinner Run, Death's Gwinter Lay His Cold Hands on Me, and When the Saints Come Marchin’ In.
One Foot in Heaven (1941) – nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, this drama based on Hartzell Spence’s book about his father – a Methodist minister – is wonderfully played by Fredric March, an actor whose name is not as well known by contemporary audiences as several of his less talented peers (despite his winning two Best Actor Oscars); Martha Scott plays his faithful wife Hope. The story spans many years in the life of the pastor, his spouse, and their family, chronically their service to several communities. It was directed by Irving Rapper and features a screenplay by Casey Robinson. One of the most memorable subplots involves Beulah Bondi as a wealthy member of his congregation; her money is needed for a church upgrade, but she’s upset that Spence shares time with her poor gardener (ubiquitous character actor Harry Davenport) because she feel that religion is proprietary.
The Song of Bernadette (1943) – Jennifer Jones won her Best Actress Oscar playing the title role in this historical drama about a young, weak nineteenth century French girl from a poor family that sees a vision which everyone assumes is the virgin Mary. Initially thought to be a "kook" by her own mother (Ann Revere), and shunned by church officials (Charles Bickford and Gladys Cooper), Bernadette grows stronger, making daily trips to see the vision which cause a sensation that the town's business council (Lee J. Cobb and Vincent Price) decides must be addressed.
The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) – Gregory Peck earned his first Best Actor Academy Award nomination playing Father Chisholm, a Catholic priest sent to China to establish a parish; later, Ingrid Bergman would play a similar role as a missionary in a remote Chinese village run by Robert Donat’s Mandarin in The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958).
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) – a sequel to the Academy Award winning Best Picture Going My Way (1944) – which should also be on this list – this story follows Father O’Malley (Bing Crosby) to his new assignment at the titled church (in dire need of better facilities) where Sister Mary Benedict (Bergman) works with school children. Henry Travers plays a businessman, who's just built a brand new building across the street; he wants the church to be leveled for a parking lot, which threatens the closure of the parochial school. Though the Father and the Sister don't always see eye-to-eye on how to deal with this and other congregational issues (just like Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald’s characters didn’t in the first film), the two develop a mutual respect that helps them to deal with Travers et al. This film airs May 2nd on the channel.
Green Dolphin Street (1947) – while this drama that earned a Special Effects Oscar is overlong and pretty average, it does contain a powerful show of faith by Marguerite (Donna Reed), whose "calling" leads her to scale a perilous vertical tunnel to reach a statue of St. Peter and a convent which she would join. Lars Hanson’s character also found his calling at the end of the silent drama Captain Salvation (1927).
Stars in My Crown (1950) – Joel McCrea plays gospel preacher Josiah Dozier Grey in this excellent Western drama directed by Jacques Tourneur. After fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Grey settles in a small rural town where he emphasizes (sometimes at the point of a gun) fair treatment and ethical ways to his parishioners and nephew (Dean Stockwell). Ellen Drew plays the preacher’s wife; Alan Hale portrays an immigrant settler that doesn’t attend church services but supports what his friend Josiah is doing in the community. Juano Hernandez plays a free black man that Ed Begley’s character wants to run off so badly that he organizes a KKK rally. This forces the former Confederate soldier turned preacher into a position of standing up to the riotous group, with his nephew and Hale's character by his side, to prevent a lynching. This movie is being shown this Wednesday (4/11) at 1 PM ET.
Today’s TCM lineup includes King Of Kings (1961), the story of Jesus Christ with Jeffrey Hunter in the title role, as told by director Nicholas Ray and screenwriter Philip Yordan. Robert Ryan plays John the Baptist, Hurd Hatfield is Pontius Pilate, Harry Guardino plays Barabbas, Rip Torn is Judas, and Royal Dano plays Peter. Orson Welles is the uncredited narrator.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Academy Awards Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Asians in Hollywood Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Children Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism Film Festival 2015 film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1930s Films of the 1960s Films of the 1970s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Film Hosts Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Memorabilia Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Magazines Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Russian Film Industry Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Set design/production design Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Spaghetti Westerns Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies U.S.S. Indianapolis Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies