BEN HUR (1959)
Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd. The story of Christ serves as the backdrop for this epic about two boyhood friends, one a Jew, the other a Roman. The chariot race is considered one of the finest action sequences ever filmed and the ending will uplift as we see Christ's effect on the lives of the house of Hur. The newly converted Ben Hur: “And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.”
FAITH LIKE POTATOES (2009)
Based on the novel Faith Like Potatoes, this inspiring film tells the story of Angus Buchan, a South African farmer who suffers a series of seemingly insurmountable losses. But through an unlikely friendship with his Zulu farmhand and God making Himself known through miraculous events, Angus discovers that the key to healing and learning to accept others lies in his unwavering belief in Jesus Christ. The unknown cast does a credible job, but what really moved me was the brave yet sensitive presentation of spiritual beliefs. The way the Holy Spirit affects the life of the main character surely will send a message to even scoffers that there must be something other than the mental and physical aspects of life they embrace. MOVIE REPORTER REVIEW
INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS (1958)
Ingrid Bergman stars in this fact-based story of a missionary who leads a group of children on a perilous journey in pre-WW2 China. The film contains one of the most moving conversions this reviewer has seen in the movies, as we witness change in a man's life due to this courageous woman's example. It reminds the Christian viewer that our lifestyle does greatly affect others.
JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977)
Franco Zeffirelli's epic production of the life of Christ is considered by many as the best film about the Son of Man. It is acclaimed for its thorough biblical and historical research. A very moving and spiritual experience, with many memorable performances, including those of Robert Powell, Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, and Laurence Olivier. Its length (371 min.) will a couple evenings to digest, but I recommend the effort.
JOAN OF ARC
The 1999 TV presentation of the French martyr starring Leelee Sobieski, Neil Patrick Harris, Jacqueline Bisset, Peter O’Toole, and Peter Strauss is entertaining, educational, and uplifting.
KING OF KINGS (1961)
Jeffrey Hunter stars as Jesus. All-star cast also includes Robert Ryan, Rip Torn and it is narrated by Orson Welles. It lacks Zeffirelli’s energy, but it has its moments and a musical score that movies our emotions. I was also extremely moved by The Robe because rather than present an actor playing the Christ, we merely witness Him through His effect on the lives of others. Ben Hur catches that same quality.
Joseph Fiennes gives a compelling performance as Martin Luther, the 16th-century Christian reformer. The producers have given movie audiences a fascinating, well-mounted film, beautiful to look at, with themes worth discussing once you leave the theater. PREVIEW REVIEW
A MAN CALLED PETER (1955)
A sensitive performance by Richard Todd highlights this account of Peter Marshall, a Scotsman who became the U.S. Senate chaplain. Tinged with a bit of schmaltzy Hollywood biography, the film comes alive with the recitation of actual sermons given by this devout man of God. You will be inspired by these sermons and be astonished at how well they relate to the times in which we live.
ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN (1941)
Fredric March stars in this entertaining story of a minister and his family dealing with church difficulties toward the beginning of the 20th century. Funny and moving, with a great scene as the pastor goes to his first movie. Most people today don’t know the name Fredric March. Too bad, he was one of the screen’s best actors.
STARS IN MY CROWN (1950)
One of my favorite films, with Joel McCrea as an 1800s minister dealing with the problems of his church members. A gentle, episodic tale for the whole family, it is a fine example of how our daily walk can eventually affect the lives of others.
COTTON PATCH GOSPEL (1988)
Actually a taped stage production, this musical comedy/drama places the Gospel of Matthew in modern-day Georgia, with Jesus born in Gainesville. Funny, inspirational, with lively music by Harry Chapin. Ask your Christian bookstore to order it from Bridgestone Production Group.
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004)
Mel Gibson’s brutal, yet undeniably artistic rendering of the final hours of Christ’s life, blew away skeptics when it earned over $350 million at the box office. Aided by superb cinematography, lighting, music, some dynamic special effects and Jim Caviezel’s sincere and muted performance, director Mel Gibson brings a mood and sensitivity never before captured when telling the story of the Christ. Justly rated R for its graphic depiction of scourging, piercing, beating, and crucifixion, The Passion of the Christ is meant to shock, unnerve, and clarify the ordeal of Christ’s sacrifice. But Mel’s film, while showing the physical horrors Christ endured, is not really about what mankind did to Him, but about what He did for us. MOVIE REPORTER REVIEW
THE ROBE (1953)
Based on the Lloyd C. Douglas novel, the episodic costume drama concerns a Roman centurion who wins Christ's robe in a dice game. Soon his life, and that of his slave, are changed as they discover Jesus to be the Savior of the world. We see Jesus through the use of long shots and camera angles that focus the attention not on an actor portraying Christ, but on the people who came into His presence. This method was effectively used in Ben Hur as well, giving both productions a great dignity. Richard Burton was nominated for an Oscar, but Victor Mature steals the picture with a moving performance as the converted slave, Demetrius. The depiction of the early church and the life-changing power of our Lord make this film worth viewing. The Special Edition contains several bonus features, including a Making Of featurette and a most interesting commentary track that focuses on the contribution of Alfred Newman, the film’s composer.