Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (1999)
What should a Christian do when confronted with a government of great evil? Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship) was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who wrestled with how to remain true to his non-violent, pacifist ideals while living under Hitler's murderous tyranny. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, a PBS movie, begins in 1939 when the young German scholar (Ulrich Tukur) is studying in the United States. He risks everything to return to his homeland.
Many Lutheran leaders are caving in to pressure from Hitler. Bonhoeffer takes a job at a secret seminary that refuses to teach Nazi modifications to centuries-old Protestant doctrine. While traveling to neutral Sweden, he delivers messages for the resistance movement.
A plot to assassinate Hitler fails, and the theologian is arrested during the crackdown. Director Eric Till movingly dramatizes the deep impression Bonhoeffer's humility and charity make on his fellow prisoners and some of the guards. He's executed on April 9, 1945, less than a month before the war's end.
The Trouble With Angels (1966)
Hollywood once considered the religious life as a normal part of the American experience. The Trouble With Angels, based on Jane Trahey's book Life With Mother Superior, is an amiable comedy set in a convent school that makes little effort to preach.
But even while playing everything primarily for laughs, director Ida Lupino (The Hitch-Hiker) presents the nuns as exemplary role models for young girls.
Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) is a reluctant boarder at St. Francis Academy who conspires with her best friend (June Harding) to make life miserable for the Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell). The sisters are surprised one evening to discover bubble bath in place of their mealtime sugar, and another student finds her face covered with quick-drying plaster when the two mischief-makers attempt to make a mask.
The mother superior, who once wanted to be a dressmaker, sees something good in these troublemakers, and we root for her somehow to win them over and show them the beauty of the religious life.
Modern Times (1936)
Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp character was always the image of tattered elegance in the face of adversity. A mustached vagabond, he sported a cane, a derby hat, a wing-collared shirt and shoes that were too big. His outsize shuffle became his trademark.
In Modern Times, one of the Vatican's top 45 films, machines and the cold-hearted impersonality of the industrial workplace are the main menace. The Little Tramp suffers a nervous breakdown working on an assembly line. He teams up with an impoverished young woman (Paulette Goddard) who's gotten into trouble trying to find food for her sisters. The rest of the movie is a series of comic skits showing them at different jobs. Chaplin uses his gags to involve us in the deepest emotions of his characters, and no matter how cruel the circumstance, the Little Tramp is always able to bounce back with a smile.