Undefended: The Five Greatest Pastors And Priests From Motion Pictures

Film Fisher Blog

Undefended: The Five Greatest Pastors And Priests From Motion Pictures

This week, a host of priests and pastors responded to the prompt alongside our regular writers.


Brian Phillips, Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Concord, North Carolina

1. Eulis “Sonny” Dewey (Robert Duvall) – The Apostle

2. Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons) – The Mission

3. Father Brown (Mark Williams) – BBC’s Father Brown

4. Father Desmond (Robert De Niro) – True Confessions

5. Cardinal Lamberto (Raf Vallone) – The Godfather, Part III


Fr. Steven Kostoff, Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, Ohio

1. Father Barry (Karl Madden, On the Waterfront)

2. The Priest of Ambicourt (Claude Laydu, Diary of a Country Priest)

3. Thomas Beckett (Richard Burton, Beckett)

4. Fr. Michael Logan (Montgomery Cliff, I Confess)

5. Christian (Lambert Wilson, Of Gods and Men)


Al Stout, Providence Church in Pensacola, Florida

1. The Preacher in Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood)

2. Father Flanagan in Boys Town (Spencer Tracy)

3. Luther in Luther (Joseph Fiennes)

4. Graham Hess in Signs (Mel Gibson)

5. Thomas Becket in Becket (Richard Burton)


Rob Hadding, Christ Church in Pace, Florida

Johann von Staupitz (Bruno Ganz) in Luther (2003)

Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) in Boys Town

Bishop Myriel (Peter Vaughan) in Les Misérables (1998)

Euliss F. ‘Sonny’ Dewey (Robert Duvall) in The Apostle

Reverend Paul Ford (Karl Malden) in Pollyanna


Steve Wilkins, Pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana

1. Beckett (1964)

2. I Confess (1953)

3. The Apostle (1973)

4. Doubt (2008)

5. The Mission (1986)


Fr. David Bleam, St. Andrew’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Pensacola, Florida

1. Reverend Lester Lowe in Stephen King’s Silver Bullet (played by Everett McGill: directed by Dan Attais -1985) – Shows a good reason for some pastors not to have evening office hours

2. Father Bobby in Sleepers (played by Robert DeNiro; directed by Barry Levinson -1996 ) – The perjuring priest

3. Fr. Michael William Logan in I Confess (played by Montgomery Clift; directed by Alfred Hitchcock – 1953) — Gives the new priest something to ponder:  Hmmm … Montgomery Clift looks handsome in a collar …. maybe I, too, can look handsome in my collar

4. The Impressive Clergyman in The Princess Bride (played by Peter Cook; directed by Rob Reiner – 1987) – Provides a short, “go to” wedding homily

5. Mola Ram in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (played by Amrish Puri; directed by Stephen Speilberg-1984) — Ok he is a mishmash of a pagan priest, but he has some good ideas about what to do with wayward children…


Rev. Russell Gross, Forest Ridge Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio

1. Elmer Gantry (Elmer Gantry)

2. Marjoe Gorton (Marjoe)

3. “Preacher” (Pale Rider)

4. Rev. Jonathan Rudd (5 Card Stud)

5. Fr. Richard Moore (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)


James Banks

1. Father Barry “the Waterfront Priest”, On the Waterfront (Carl Maldin)

2. Father Gabriel, The Mission (Jeremy Irons)

3. “Preacher”, Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood)

4. Rev. Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon, Night of the Iguana (Richard Burton)*

5. Father Edward Flanagan, Boys Town *(Spencer Tracy)

*Not a good man in the film, but still a great performance


Justin Spencer

1. Reverend Maclain (A River Runs Through It)

2. Father Quintana (To the Wonder)

3. Christian de Chergé (Des Hommes et Des Dieux)

4. Thomas Becket (Becket)

5. Father Gabriel (The Mission)


Sean Johnson

1. Father Barry (On the Waterfront, Karl Malden)

2. Father Gabriel (The Mission, Jeremy Irons)

3. Father Flynn (Doubt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman)

4. Monsignor Quixote (Monsignor Quixote, Alec Guinness)

5. Father Quintana (To the Wonder, Javier Bardem)


Joseph Gross

1. Fr. Quintana (To the Wonder)

2. Shepherd Derrial Book (Serenity)

3. Friar Pablo Ramírez (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

4. Abp. Oscar Romero (Romero)

5. Rev. Graham Hess (Signs)


Thomas Banks

1.Bing Crosby in “The Bells of St. Mary’s”

2.Pierre Fresnay in “Monsieur Vincent”

3.Lambert Wilson in “Of Gods and Men”

4.Jeremy Irons in “The Mission”

5.Richard Burton in “Becket”


Timothy Lawrence

1. Karl Malden as Father Barry in “On the Waterfront”

2. Paul Scofield as Thomas More in “A Man For All Seasons”

3. Richard Burton as Thomas Becket in “Becket”

4. Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell in “Night of the Hunter”

5. Paul Dano as Eli Sunday in “There Will Be Blood”


Remy Wilkins

1. Father Quintana, To the Wonder

2. Father Flynn, Doubt

3. Sonny Dewey, The Apostle

4. Eli Sunday, There Will Be Blood

5. Father Pere Henri & Comte de Reynaud, Chocolat


Brian Murnion

1. Winter Light (1962)

2. Ordet (1955)

3. Diary of a Country Priest (1951)

4. (Nuns) Black Narcissus (1947)

5. I Confess (1953)


Joshua Gibbs

1. Father Anatoly in Ostrov (The Island)

2. Father Barry in On The Waterfront

3. Father Flynn (innocent) in Doubt

4. The Minister in Babette’s Feast

5. Rabbi Nachtner in A Serious Man


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