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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

From Eternity to Here

Strange as it may seem today, once upon a time, Hollywood respected Christianity.  Many movies had biblical themes—some were box-office blockbusters—but, more importantly, many others had scenes depicting religion as an integral part of American culture.  The public demanded it.  The silver screen was full of families saying grace before a meal or attending religious services; chaplains giving last rites to dying men or comforting troops; pioneers praying, singing hymns, or building churches.  Leading men played priests: Bing Crosby in Going My Way, The Bells of St. Mary’s, and Say One for Me; Pat O’Brien in Angels with Dirty Faces, The Fighting 69th, Fighting Father Dunne, and The Fireball; Spencer Tracy in San Francisco, Boys Town, Men of Boys Town, and The Devil at 4 O’Clock; Frank Sinatra in The Miracle of the Bells.  And leading ladies played nuns: Loretta Young in Come to the Stable; Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison; Rosalind Russell in The Trouble With Angels and Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows; Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story; Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

Christianity and actors are words that now seem antithetical.  Yet, in years past,...

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