What movies best represent the seven virtues and the theological gifts?

The Regina Coeli Academy in Philadelphia is putting together a list of recommended films for students.

One of the founders, Barbara Henkels, asked me to put the word out for some recommendations, which I am delighted to do.

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Here is my preliminary list for the virtues:

Faith: The Song of Bernadette (1943), directed by Henry King, starring Jennifer Jones.  One of the most successful and enduring of Hollywood’s religious films, The Song of Bernadette portrays the clash between faith and science, doing surprising justice to both sides.

Hope: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart. This Christimas classic was something of a flop when it was released — too close to the end of WWII? However, it still grips the viewer with the freshness of George Bailey’s struggle with suicide.

Love: Life is Beautiful, starring and directed by Roberto Benigni. Anyone who has seen this film will very likely never forget the father’s gift of his life to save his son in a concentration camp.

Prudence: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda.  What makes this film so memorable is the way Lincoln employs his intelligence and insight into human character in the courtroom to get at the truth of a murder charge.

Justice: The Winslow Boy (1948), directed by Terrence Rattigan and starring Robert Donat. (By all means, watch this film version and not the 1999 remake by David Mamet.) Based upon a true story, The Winslow Boy portrays a father’s dogged pursuit of justice for his son kicked out of school for stealing.

Temperance: Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), directed by Walter Lang and starring Clifton Webb.  The attempts by the father of the Gilbreth clan to run everything by the clock is an unforgettable lesson about temperance and how it can be taken to the extreme.

Fortitude: Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957), directed by David Lean and starring Alec Guinness.  The American and English soldiers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp are led by Colonel Nicholson (Guinness) whose trips to suffer the heat of “the cooler” are an unforgettable lesson in courage and leadership.

What are your suggestions both for the virtues and the gifts? (Please include at least a sentence supporting your recommendations.)



  • Deal W. Hudson

    Deal W. Hudson is ​publisher and editor of The Christian Review and the host of “Church and Culture,” a weekly two-hour radio show on the Ave Maria Radio Network.​ He is the former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.

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