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Catholics (1973)

Martin Sheen , Trevor Howard , Jack Gold  |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Sheen, Trevor Howard
  • Directors: Jack Gold
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Synergy Ent
  • DVD Release Date: May 24, 2007
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000R9AKR2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,415 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In the near future, the Catholic church has joined with other western religions in an ecumenical movement that has washed out much of the original message of the religion. A group of Irish monks have begun saying the mass again in Latin and have begun to have an international following. Martin Sheen is sent from Rome to bring them to task and they must confront what is truly essential in their worship and what is not.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Original Film, But Flawed Editing and Reproduction. February 10, 2003
Format:DVD
This made-for-TV movie from 1973 was shown full-length on U.S. public broadcasting stations in the 1970s. It is a visually and intellectually impressive film. The story line is very faithful to the 1972 book "Catholics" by Brian Moore, with only a couple of scenes sequenced differently, and in my opinion, rather more effectively than in the book. Unfortunately, later VHS versions have been shortened, with about the first ten minutes of the original film deleted. This DVD version shares the same significant defect.
The first few minutes of the original film were essential in setting the context for the conflict portrayed between the traditionalist Irish monks led by their Father Abbot (Trevor Howard), and the modernist representative (Martin Sheen) of their order's Vatican Father General. During these missing first few minutes, we would have seen Sheen meeting with the Father General (Raf Vallone) in Rome, and discussing the "problem" of the return of Latin Mass celebration by the monks of Howard's abbey and the growing world-wide popularity of that celebration. The first scene made it clear that the time period portrayed is hypothetical and futuristic. In this fabulous Roman Catholic Church, additional modifications and liberalization of doctrine are supposed to have taken place beyond those that have been in effect since Vatican II. Within the film, there are mentions of a "Vatican IV" and other hypothetical conventions. Missing the original initial scene, many may believe that the film has grossly erred in, or deliberately distorted, current Roman Catholic beliefs. This was not the motive of the movie as originally filmed, and it is a tremendous loss to the integrity of the original story that the vital first scene of the movie has been edited away.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Buy the Digiview Version instead! January 3, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This version of the film is very grainy with lines running through it with lots of distortions and pops on the soundtrack. It's hard to enjoy this particular version of the film

For anyone out there looking for a fairly clean copy of this movie the slim case, digitally remastered version of this film by Digiview, titled "The Conflict" is the one to buy. It's also available here on Amazon. On that version, the sound was crisp and free of the annoying pops and distortions heard on other DVD versions of this film. The picture, while not exactly up to high def standards, was the best I've ever seen of this film.

The movie itself -- based on Brian Moore's book "Catholics" -- is a parable about the confrontation between tradiiton and modernity in the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II. The twist is that in this film, which was produced prior to the John Paul II-Ratzinger counter-reformation, the Vatican representative (Sheen) is the progressive seeking to deal with a traditionalist "rebellion" by Irish monks who are celebrating the mass in Latin again for the people. Strong performances by Martin Sheen and Trevor Howard. This is one of my favorite films of all time, and it's nice to have a pretty clean and enjoyable copy of it available on DVD!

Do yourself a favor and buy the digiview version instead!
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52 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nostalgic film for Baby Boomer Papists December 13, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
If you're an early Baby Boomer born and raised a Roman Catholic, then you'll likely appreciate the 1973 film CATHOLICS. If you're of any other faith, or a Catholic born later than, say, 1960, then the movie may be of only academic interest. Indeed, if you're a young Catholic today, then the issues around which the plot pivots may not be comprehensible at all.

A youthful Martin Sheen plays a priest sent by Rome to an Irish monastery located on an isolated, windswept island. His mission, to demand that the monks cease and desist celebrating the Mass in Latin. The Vatican hierarchy is attempting to modernize the Mass worldwide, i.e. have it celebrated in the vernacular, as well as promote the new policy that the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is symbolic, not real. Trouble is, the monastery's priests have been celebrating the Mass on the mainland in the traditional manner. More to the point, the ceremony has been televised, and is causing a pious, revivalist stir among the faithful. The pencil pushing prelates back in Rome are not pleased with this political incorrectness.

The marvelous actor Trevor Howard plays the crusty, wise, spiritually troubled, monastery abbot, who must find a way to obey the dictate of the enforcer sent down from the Big House, while avoiding a rebellion among the monks, who consider the emissary's message an abomination, and he himself disconcertingly trendy. (Faith and begorrah, he doesn't even wear the traditional, Roman clerical collar!)

Are you still with me on this, or have I lost you? If I haven't, God bless ya, darlin'. In any case, all of the acting performances are wonderful, especially Howard's. The character actors portraying the abbot's cowled flock were chosen with pure genius.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars as good as the original book December 14, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
"Catholics" is a faithful adaptation of Brian Moore's novella of the same name. Trevor Howard plays the abbot who is the crux of the plot; Martin Sheen (who is one of the rare people who is just as physically gorgeous today, in his fifties, as he was when this movie was made in 1973) plays the aggressive young inquisitor from Rome. This film is only superficially about the conflict between modern and traditional strains in the Church -- the real story is about the abbot, who after a lifetime in religion has lost his faith and is afraid to try to find it again. Howard, a superlative actor, could convey more with a twitch of an eyebrow than some present-day stars can with any amount of "Method" acting. His subtle portrayal of spiritual anguish blows all the other actors, Sheen included, right off the screen. His only serious competition comes from the scenery -- the film was shot on location on the Irish coast, one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful places on earth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A most interesting film
A great film to have in your film library. Wish mine had been in a little better shape. It is an old film but I have enjoyed seeing it several time, I think the film has a great... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Hannah Riddick
3.0 out of 5 stars "Pie in the Sky"
There is what actually occurs and what people think is occurring. To understand this film, it helps to know at least one fact about Roman Catholicism, a fact that's gotten more and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by John McConnell
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal touch
Years ago I read the book and I kept it on the bookshelf.
Now I saw the movie and it touches me.
Published 5 months ago by Henk de Velde
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking
Interesting concepts of 'old Catholic life' as portrayed by the struggles of the responsibilities of the men of the cloth. Read more
Published 6 months ago by GypsyRose
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story.
This was an excellent movie (one of Martin Sheen's first), which I remember seeing over the air, on CBS in the early 70s. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Josh
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Poor Picture Quality
This movie needs to be remastered for better viewing. I gave up 20 minutes into the story.
Just awful...no wonder it's free.
Published 10 months ago by WingMan112001
3.0 out of 5 stars Catholic Back To The Future
Or something. Another reviewer gave a good warning re the first 10 minutes that are missing. I'll watch again. Probably put in our parish library. Thank you Amazon.
Published 13 months ago by Foggy
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and smart
Excellent dialogue about reform versus tradition......relevant in today's world. A must see for anyone struggling with some of the church's teachings -- which, to modern man,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by V. Pettus
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, but disturbing...
This film is well worth watching for the superb acting, especially on the part of Trevor Howard, who is fully believable as an abbot who has lost his faith. Read more
Published 15 months ago by R. Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars A look back
A look back on how it felt in the decade following Vatican II. Grateful that it hasn't turned out that way, but the insight given by the film, which is very faithful to the novella... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Thomas J Hostomsky
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