Film History Made at the Vatican

Audience of 7,000 Makes Film History at the Vatican

By WENN Monday, November 27, 2006 [SOURCE]

HOLLYWOOD – More than 7,000 film fans made history in Italy last night when they attended the first world premiere held at the Vatican.

The Nativity Story, a new movie about the birth of Jesus Christ, debuted as part of a benefit in the hallowed Paul VI Hall.

Pope Benedict XVI was not present for the screening, but U.S. Archbishop John Foley led the event by praising the film and giving director Catherine Hardwicke the Vatican’s stamp of approval.

Hardwicke was thrilled by the special screening and insisted she never expected the Pope to attend: “I think the Pope is pretty busy.”

Here is a more in depth article from The New York Times.

Vatican Plays Host for ‘Nativity Story’ Premiere
By PETER KIEFER Published: November 27, 2006

ROME, Nov. 27 — They will almost certainly remain strange bedfellows, Hollywood and the Holy See, but the two had a rare encounter on Sunday when the Vatican was the host of the world premiere of the New Line Cinema film The Nativity Story, giving an unprecedented stamp of approval to an American studio production. And though Pope Benedict XVI was conspicuously absent from the event, a clutch of high-ranking cardinals joined the more than 7,000 people who attended.

Held in Paul VI Hall next to St. Peter’s Basilica, the premiere started late, in true Hollywood fashion. The film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of
), and cast members were seated directly across from high-ranking church officials like Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, who ranks second only to Pope Benedict in the Vatican hierarchy. “I kept trying to look over there to see if they liked it,” Ms. Hardwicke acknowledged after the premiere.

That, of course, was a foregone conclusion, as the pope himself had approved of the film well in advance.

It is well done,” Cardinal Bertone said, as Reuters reported. “It reproposes this event which changed history with realism but also with a sense of great respect of the mystery of the Nativity.”

The Nativity Story is a dramatic recounting of the courtship between Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It is one of a wave of religious-themed movies due from Hollywood studios, which awakened to the potential of an audience for these films with the success of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ in 2004.

Sunday’s event marked the first time the Vatican was the host of the world premiere of a full-length feature film, though last year it helped stage the debut of a television movie about the life of Pope John Paul II, at which Pope Benedict XVI was present. The premiere was also in sharp contrast to the tensions between some Roman Catholic groups and Sony Pictures Entertainment over The Da Vinci Code, which was based on a popular novel that challenges church doctrine.

The article goes on to compare The Nativity Story to The Passion of the Christ in terms of possible box office success. Read it here.

The Nativity Story looks like excellent film and something I would like. I’m looking foward to seeing it when I go home for Christmas (in 23 days!) The trailer is below:

Review: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)

In the opening scenes of The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, Tracy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) is introduced as she is lipsyncing to a song recording of a deep bass. As the notes are held, she bends, crouches and wildly waves her arms.

Don’t be alarmed. You’ve just entered the hilarious comedic adventure that is The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. Often overlooked, this is a mad-capped, fast-paced, wildly funny picture directed by Preston Sturges (the man behind The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels.)


Tracy, a small-town girl, is the darling of Morgan’s Creek. Her charm and pretty looks attracts attention everywhere she goes. So naturally, on the eve of a massive farewell party for the troops, Tracy’s protective father, Constable Kockenlocker (William Demarest) forbids her from attending. Desperate, Trudy calls upon her neurotic friend Norval Jones, played by Eddie Bracken, for help.

She pretends to go out with Norval, who is unfit for military because he sees “black spots” when panicked. Instead she borrows his car and after too much Victory “lemonade”, Trudy returns from her wild night with a few problems. She doesn’t remember the night before. It’s up to Trudy, her wise-cracking younger sister Emmy (Diana Lynn), and Norval to fix her mistakes, even if it means breaking the law.

What’s great about this picture, is how it is not only a genius comedy with sharp, suggestive dialogue, a cute love story, and hysterical physical aspects, but it is a social satire as well. Director and writer Preston Sturges uses to picture to comment on the pristine image of small town America.

This is by far my favorite Preston Sturges picture. The duo of Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken is perfect. And I love The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek a little bit more every time I see it.

Updated October 11, 2010