Friday, June 26, 2015

The Sacrament of Penance and Hollywood

From The Catholic Thing:
A prime example of Hitchcock’s creative incorporation of his Catholicism occurs, for example, in his 1953 movie I Confess, where Montgomery Clift portrays a priest charged with murder. He cannot defend himself properly, because he cannot reveal the confession of the true murderer. Plot twists involving the seal of the confessional have long fascinated many writers, including scriptwriters, because of the potentially high stakes: imprisonment or execution on the one hand versus possible damnation on the other.

Another classic movie showcasing confession is John Ford’s The Fugitive, his version of Graham Greene’s powerful novel The Power and the Glory. The book portrayed a whisky-priest-turned-martyr during the Mexican persecutions of the 20th century, which produced many real-life martyrs such as Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro. (Ford’s priest is torn by doubt and cowardice rather than alcohol and lechery.) The priest is trapped into revealing himself through an appeal to hear a dying man’s confession.

And there are also some good books worth consulting on Catholic movies and moviemakers. A good place to start is Catholics in the Movies edited by Colleen McDannell. In addition, the recently published Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends, by Mary Claire Kendall and Dolores Hart, presents some amazing stories of Catholic converts and reverts in Tinsel Town. (Read more.)

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