6 Four-Star Movies to Watch This Columbus Day

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

6 Four-Star Movies to Watch This Columbus Day

By Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor


Quality:  * * * *
Acceptability:  +3
Featuring another of John Wayne’s best performances, this western is a glorious, entertaining patriotic salute to the American soldiers who kept the peace in the Wild West during America’s expansion in the 19th Century.

2. RED RIVER (1948)

Quality:  * * * *
Acceptability:  +2
The archetypal cattle drive western by Howard Hawks, with John Wayne taking the young Montgomery Clift under his wing after the Duke’s girl is killed by Indians. Another of John Wayne’s best performances. When Hawks’ friendly rival, John Ford, saw this movie, he reportedly said, half jokingly, “I didn’t know the big [expletive deleted] could act!”


Quality:  * * * *
Acceptability:  -1
MASTER AND COMMANDER, which is subtitled THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD, is a rousing sea adventure starring Russell Crowe in another fine action role. Directed by Peter Weir (THE TRUMAN SHOW and WITNESS), it’s one of the more excellent features from 2003 appropriate for teenagers. Set in 1805, the story follows Captain Jack Aubrey of England as he leads his ship, the HMS Surprise, against a superior French ship serving Napoleon, led by a wily captain. Traveling around “the horn” of South America, Aubrey pursues the French ship, a mission that can destroy him and his crew. His best friend, the ship’s surgeon, helps keep Aubrey’s feet on the ground.

Some foul language, violence, and minor negative elements are inappropriate for children. However, Director Peter Weir is a master craftsman at creating atmosphere, however. Russell Crowe continues to amaze us with his acting prowess. He truly is a big movie star and a fine actor. MASTER AND COMMANDER also contains excellent period detail, wonderful effects, good moral values, and strong, positive Christian references, although these overt Christian elements come a little late in the movie. MASTER AND COMMANDER is an award-winning movie.


Quality: * * * *
Acceptability: +3
The exciting historical-adventure drama, SQUANTO: A WARRIOR’S TALE, tells the amazing legend of a Native American Indian and his enslavement at the hands of English traders, his daring escape and his miraculous return to his New England homeland where he risks his life for peace and helps Pilgrim settlers survive in the early 1600s. Disney’s SQUANTO is free of offensive content — save for appropriate action violence — and contains an exceptionally positive portrayal of Christian belief and principles.

5. BLACK ROBE (1991)

Quality: * * * *
Acceptability:  -2
BLACK ROBE, directed by Bruce Beresford (DRIVING MISS DAISY), relates the story of a seventeenth-century French Jesuit priest who goes to New France (Quebec) in an effort to convert the Indians in 1634. The masterful direction, sensitive performances and remarkable cinematography create a profound film that forces the viewer to ponder the struggle between savage paganism and Christianity. The prospective viewer does have to consider the naturalistic fornication and the brutal torture scenes before he deems BLACK ROBE a movie to see.


Quality: * * * *
Acceptability: -1
THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS comes across full of action, drama, conflict, and romance. The film, set in 1757 in upstate New York, is freely adapted from the classic novel by James Fenimore Cooper and deals with the French and British struggle for supremacy in the New World. The movie is a visual delight, and, despite considerable violence, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS achieves a cinematic success even though it forsakes the Protestant perspective of the book and leans very slightly toward politically correct paganism. Even so, biblical virtues triumph in this visual masterpiece.