There are an incredible number of movies, many of them Oscar-winners, on TCM this month aimed at Christian, even specifically Catholic, sensibilities. Parents should find most (not all) appealing to and — shhh! — educa¬¨tional enough so youngsters can discover more about how men and women have lived in faith and in sin. Parish DREs, confirmation and faith formation coordinators will want to note these titles as well. So, fire up the DVR or TiVo — and here we go:May 103 a.m.: The Informer (1935). A century ago, during the Irish Rebellion, Gypo Nolan betrays his friend, one of the rebels, for 20 pounds — and then has to live with himself. A powerful performance from Victor McLaglen won him a Best Actor Oscar and John Ford his first Oscar for direction.—8:30 a.m.: Boys Town (1938). The story of how Father Edward Flanagan began the famous refuge for orphaned and unwanted chil¬¨dren, still going strong in Nebraska. Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for Best Actor.—10:15 a.m.: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). A hauntingly beautiful film detailing the career of an introverted English schoolteacher and how his students came to appreciate him. Every teacher should see this movie. Robert Donat beat out Clark Gable in “Gone with the Wind” to win the Best Actor Oscar. —2:30 p.m.: Sergeant York (1941). How a peaceful farm boy became a hero in World War I. Watch for the scene in which he sup¬¨ports his pacifism by matching Biblical citations with an Army officer. Gary Cooper won the Best Actor Oscar.—6:30 p.m.: The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945). Funny romp in which a trumpet-playing angel is sent from heaven to bring about the Apoca¬¨lypse. It became a running gag for Jack Benny to pretend this was a dreadful movie. It’s not.May 115 p.m.: How Green Was My Valley (1941). Based on Richard Llewellyn’s novel, Huw Morgan comes of age in a coal-mining village in Wales in this much-beloved film which beat out Citizen Kane for the Best Movie Oscar. Another success for director John Ford.—7:15 p.m.: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945). Do not miss this film based on Betty Smith’s novel about a poverty-stricken Catholic family at the turn of the 20th century. James Dunn won an Oscar as Best Actor and Peggy Ann Garner received a special juvenile Oscar for their roles in Elia Ka¬¨zan’s magnificent directorial debut.May 129:30 a.m.: Light in the Piazza (1962). Among the Mother’s Day film-fest is this touching story based on Elizabeth Spencer’s novella about an American Catholic mother in Rome concerned about letting her beautiful, 26-year-old daughter, with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, get married. Olivia de Havilland, Yvette Mimieux and George Hamilton star.May 156:30 a.m.: The Third Man (1949). Harry Lime, a corrupt Catholic opportunist, dilutes penicillin in post-war Vienna causing people to die. One of Orson Welles’ most famous film roles.—1 p.m.: The Angel Wore Red. Bruce Marshall, a Scottish convert and guiding light of Una Voce, wrote many novels presenting Catholic doctrine and its relationship to modern life. His 1954 novel, “The Fair Bride,” became the basis for this movie, about a disaffected priest hunted during the anticlerical Spanish Civil War falling in love and thinking about leaving the priesthood. With several martyrs killed for the Faith during that dreadful era now being canonized, this film becomes a fine teaching tool for adults in RCIA. May 16It’s “Four Saints Day” this month at TCM! Four, count ’em, four, movies in a row about the blessed in heaven.—5 p.m.: The Big Fisherman (1959). This film has not been shown on TV since the early 1970s when I saw it. As a novel it was Lloyd C. Douglas’ sequel to “The Robe,” picking up Peter’s story in the last year of the earthly life of Jesus, continuing to his death in Rome. The script, however, is about Peter’s life at the time of his call by Jesus and it’s, well, a bit confused. What were subplots in Douglas’ novel become the major storyline as Peter takes time off from his duties within the apostolic band to aid Fera, whose mother was abandoned by Herod Antipas to marry Herodias. Peter helps her get past her rage to avenge her wronged mother on Antipas. Then he’s off to Arabia to help Prince Voldi gain his throne. Occasionally he checks in with Jesus to enact gospel scenes.Originally set to be filmed by Disney Studios, it was ultimately rejected but Roy, Walt’s brother, had faith in the project and had it released by Disney’s Buena Vista company. Alas, it came out between “Ben Hur” and “Spartacus,” both much better epics, and got lost in the shuffle. Be prepared for Jesus (whose face is never seen) speaking Spenserian English in imposing Oxfordian tones. Try also to overlook all the broken columns littering the landscape, the art director seeming not to realize that they were supposed to support roofs, not just look decorative. On the plus side Albert Hay Malotte, known for his musical setting of the Lord's Prayer, composed an admirable score. Howard Keel as Simon bar Jona is great fun, tall, brash and commanding, truly a rock of a man. And if St Peter in heaven doesn’t look much the same I’ll want my money back. —8:15 p.m.: Francis of Assisi (1961). Children will likely enjoy this retelling of Francesco Bernadone’s career as The Little Poor Man of God. Adults will find this production flat, little resembling weary director Michael Curtiz’ many earlier, glorious successes such as “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Casablanca.” We see Francis engaged in highly sanitized debauchery before hearing the voice of Jesus asking him to rebuild His Church. This leads him to gather followers and stones to literally rebuild churches in medieval Italy, eventually travelling to Rome to ask Pope Innocent III to approve his new order of friars. (As fond as I am of craggy, old, Scottish actor, Finlay Currie, it’s hard to imagine him as the holy, yet worldly-wise Italian Innocent, conducting his daily business affairs on a throne, attired in Mass vestments, pallium, liturgical gloves and tiara. But, then, he portrayed a craggy old Scottish St. Peter in “Quo Vadis,” and a craggy, old, Scottish Balthazar in “Ben Hur.”) His order thriving, Francis goes to Arabia hoping to convert the Sultan but fails. In the film’s most affecting scene, Francis is taken to the Crusaders’ camp where he comforts the wounded and tries to prevent torture, begging God forgive barbarities committed in His Name. Upon his return to Assisi he finds his rule for absolute poverty set aside and he retires to a cave where he receives the Stigmata.Bradford Dillman does his best within the script’s confines, and Dolores Hart is quite pleasing as St Clare, the last film she made before leaving Hollywood to become a Carmelite nun.—10:15 p.m.: Joan of Arc (1948). A true epic, his gorgeously-produced film has recently been restored to its original 146 minutes. The actors’ credits are listed by locale, as was done in “Gone With the Wind,” and the movie has same sweep, understandable since the two films share the same director, Victor Fleming. The story starts with Joan’s voices prompting her to save France as the Hundred Years War begins to wind down. We see how she found the courage to approach the impoverished Dauphin, asking that she be sent to Orleans where God will give a great victory to the French. There are action scenes, to be sure, battles and the horrors of war but nothing, happily, as seen in later blood baths like “Gate of Heaven.” The movie is mostly concerned with Joan’s trial and her steadfast resolution in the face of an assemblage of English and renegade French bishops, priests, monks and Dominicans determined to send her to the stake. Based on Maxwell Anderson’s play, "Joan of Lorraine," the trial’s dialogue is taken from court records. While it lacks the intensity of the silent classic, “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” this superb film is excellent for introducing Joan to friends and family. If you’ve seen only the 100-minute cut version, the restored Technicolor will overwhelm you, especially in the coronation scene. The film deserved its two Oscar wins in Costume Design and Cinematography.Ingrid Bergman was drawn to the character of Joan, portraying her three times in films and the Anderson play. She is, as always, a pleasure to watch, artfully conveying Joan’s sincerity and sanctity. Jose Ferrer, in his (official) debut on screen superbly portrays the Dauphin, later King Charles VII, as a weak, dissipated sybarite. Both received Oscar nominations. As Pierre Cauchon, count-bishop of Beauvais, the leading judge at Joan’s trial, the performance of massive Francis L. Sullivan has never been bettered. He’s by turns suave and menacing, a corrupt shepherd of the flock, solely motivated by greed. I was at a screening of the restored version at the Bing Center; when a cardinal invited to the trial damningly denounces Cauchon as betraying the Church the entire audience cheered and applauded. Now, that’s villainy!May 1712:45 a.m.: A Man For All Seasons (1966). TCM’s festival of saints concludes with the highly-esteemed filmed version of Robert Bolt’s award-winning play about Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of England who refused to sacrifice his integrity and his love for the Catholic Church to satisfy the whim of King Henry VIII when that monarch prodded Parliament to declare him head of the Church in England in place of the pope. During an inquiry, when More’s friend the Duke of Norfolk affably tells him, “I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at those names.... You know those men! Can't you do what I did, and come with us, for fellowship?”More replies, “And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?"While St. Thomas is a man of conscience fearing eternal damnation should he compromise himself, in the end it is love of Christ and the veracity of His appointment of St. Peter as head of the Church on earth which impels him not to forsake what he knows to be true. Robert Shaw is impressive as the younger Henry, Orson Welles is suitably clever as Cardinal Wolsey. Paul Scofield, who portrayed More in the London and Broadway play productions, won a Tony and Best Actor Oscar. This beautifully photographed film won five more Oscars, including Fred Zinnemann for Best Director and Best Picture of the Year.Sean M. Wright, a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita, presents workshops and enrichment courses throughout the archdiocese. He replies to comments sent him at [email protected]. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0510/tcmmovies/{/gallery}