POSTED March 9 2013

Your favorite movie Pope?

Pope John Goodman as Pope Sergius

Pope John Goodman as Pope Sergius

During this papal interregnum, the best source of Vatican news is coming from South Philly blogger Rocco Palmo, reportedly is the go-to site for news and gossip about papal succession.

When it comes to films about the church, I’m partial to nun films (The Nun’s Story, The Sound of MusicThe Trouble With Angels, Therese, Black Narcissus) than pope movies, usually because the pontiff is usually a distant authoritarian rather than a fleshed-out character.

Still, I have some favorite film popes, including, improbably, John Goodman as Pope Sergius in Pope Joan (the 2009 movie starring Johanna Wokaluk as the 9th-century woman who, though Vatican historians say it never happened, according to legend posed as a male, and was elevated to pope). As Pope Joan, Wokaluk says something to the effect that women are superior to men because Eve ate the apple for the love of knowledge and Adam did it only because Eve asked.

Who could fail to love Michel Piccoli in Habemus Papam, the 2011 Nanni Moretti film about the cardinal who, when elected Pope, has a panic attack and consults a psychoanalyst who is an atheist? But for all-time great movie pope I admit I’d probably vote for Rex Harrison’s Pope Julius in The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), who keeps pushing Michelangelo (Charlton) to hurry up with that Sistine ceiling. “You dare dicker with your pontiff?” boom Julius.

Which popes am I missing?


  1. Michael Dare says:

    Robbie Coltrane in “The Pope Must Die,” or “The Pope Must Diet” as it was later renamed due to complaints. Best Pope, and best Pope movie ever.

  2. Gary Kramer says:

    I won’t say if the Pope makes an appearance in the fine 2007 Uruguayan film THE POPE’S TOILET, but this is a wry and poignant film about a man hoping to make some money off of the papal visit. Highly recommended.

  3. Abramorama says:

    Leonardo Cimino in MONSIGNOR. I saw it at a press screening, where a friend too loudly noted that the Pope – Cimino – bore a striking resemblance to ET, a remark that made it into Janet Maslin’s NY Times review.

  4. David Cohen says:

    PopeYe, i.e. the sailor man.

  5. Joshua Beall says:

    Tom Conti as Pope Leo XIV in Saving Grace (1986) was very good. An enjoyavle film, even if the circumstances aren’t very credible.

  6. Mike says:

    Not a pope, but my favorite is Cardinal Ignatius Glick, in Dogma 🙂

  7. Brady says:

    The only pope movie that I’ve seen is Euro Trip. And it actually takes the time to really explain papal selection to people who couldn’t care less about papal selection. So Scotty is definitely my choice for best movie Pope.

  8. Miz Val says:

    Tim Curry in the Three Musketeers as the Cardinal Right after Charlie Sheen’s tells him he has to answer to God for his sdins . Curry aims and shoots him in the heart and tells him, “You first!” He misses because Sheen was wearing a giant cross under his shirt .

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