Friday, March 31, 2017

Clint Eastwood Movie Churches Month: The Last Day of Your Life

True Crime (1999)
We’ve visited the church buildings used to make Movie Churches before, but I believe this film has the first Movie Clergy I’ve met in real life. A couple years after True Crime was made, the Reverend Cecil Williams, who in the film plays “Reverend Williams,” stayed in a hotel where I worked in Healdsburg. Williams is the founder and pastor emeritus of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, and I can attest to him being a very polite man. He is a nice, polite pastor in the film as well.

There is another member of the clergy in the film who doesn’t come off as well as Williams.

True Crime covers one day in the life of a reporter investigating what may be the last day for a man on death row. Clint Eastwood directed the film and stars as the reporter, Steve Everett. The film is an adaptation of a novel with the same title, written by Andrew Klavan (author of the memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ).

Isaiah Washington plays Frank Louis Beechum, a man convicted of the murder of a pregnant convenience store clerk. (Side note: “malice aforethought” and -- usually -- special circumstances have to be shown in order to get a death penalty in California. These conditions demand premeditation, which I’d think would be really hard to prove in a robbery situation. But this is a movie, so…)

Beechum has a record of minor offenses, but according to reliable sources, his life turned around after he met a Christian woman, they married and had a child. Even though he’s about to be put to death, he continues to insist that he’s innocent of the murder and to proclaim his Christian faith.

We see Beechum answering questions from a prison official who should get his possessions after he’s put to death. Beechum answers that his wife will. He is asked who will take possession of his body, and he answers his wife will. When the official advises that funerals can be expensive, Beechum answers, “My church will raise money to pay for it.” (It seems Beechum has seen his church provide in the past and is confident that it will provide in the future, even if he’s not around to see it.)

When we see Beechum with his wife and daughter, he expresses confidence in God’s care. He says to his wife, “You know I’m going to a better place beyond here. I’ll save a place at the table for you.” He tells his daughter, “I will be in heaven with Jesus. I will be waiting for you. And if ever you want to talk to me, I will be listening.”

His daughter seems to have listened to her Sunday School lessons; she’s made her father a picture of “green pastures” (using the language that describes the pastures of Psalm 23 that God the good Shepherd leads his followers into).

When Everett the reporter comes to interview Beechum, the man wants to testify to his faith:  “Tell everyone I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I believe I’m going to a better place with better justice. I believe the crooked can be made straight, that’s what the Bible says. So that’s how I feel about it.”

From all this, we get the idea that Beechum’s wife, church, pastor, and His Lord have been doing a good job of discipling him in the faith. When we see the Reverend Williams comforting Beechum. On the walk to the death chamber Williams assures Beechum of God’s faithfulness from the Psalms. “Brother Beechum, let me tell you of the Lord, He is my refuge, my fortress. Even when there is no hope, he will deliver you from the snare.”

Sadly, there is another clergyman in the film who doesn’t come off so well.

Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins of This is Spinal Tap and Lenny on the sitcom Laverne and Shirley) plays the Reverend Shillerman, a prison chaplain. We first see Shillerman checking his hair in the mirror before going to see the prisoner. He is obviously a man concerned first with himself, and what he desires more than anything else is to have Beechum confess the murder to him.

The guards tell Shillerman not to bother Beechum because he has a minister of his own coming to visit. This doesn't deter the chaplain.

He visits Beechum anyway and urges him to confess, saying,  “Just wanted you to see if you needed anything, Frank. I understand you’re a Bible reading man, but you know reading the Bible is not enough. A man can’t go to meet His Maker without repenting his sins. A lot of people out there would feel a whole lot better if you repented.”

Beechum responds, “I want you to leave, I have my own pastor coming later.”

Shillerman says,  “There is going to come a time, not far off when you’ll regret [not confessing].”

Beechum calls to the guards, “Get this damn fool out of my face who calls himself a man of God.”

Shillerman says, “I feel sorry for you, Frank. You know, it’s just my job.”

A guard takes Beechum’s side saying, “Everyone wants in on the action, don’t they, Frank?”

Beechum later apologizes to Shillerman, but the chaplain takes this apology as a confession (a leap that has no rational basis). Shillerman goes to the media and claims that Beechum confessed to the murder. Beechum had been adamant that he was innocent of this crime, wanting his daughter to know the truth, but hey, the guy’s going to be dead soon, so if Shillerman can boost his career a bit, why not?

The warden condemns Shillerman’s act as unethical, telling him, “You made me look unprofessional ... and that, spiritually speaking, is not a good thing to do.”

I’m going to grade the two clergymen in the film separately. I have problems theologically with the real life Rev. Williams, though I respect (very much) the work the church has done; still, I’m giving the movie Rev. Williams our highest rating of 4 steeples.

The Rev. Sherman Shillerman? I’ll be charitable and grant him two steeples, since he does carry out Jesus’ command to visit prisoners, he. He just does it so badly.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Clint Eastwood Movie Churches Month: Preacher, Angel, Gunman, Ghost?

Pale Rider (1985)
There certainly aren’t any churches in the film Pale Rider, and I’m not sure if there are any clergy. But there is a character that everyone calls “Preacher” (Clint Eastwood), and everyone treats him like a clergyman, and he never objects. It does seem like he might be something else. There are scars on his back that look like they could be bullet holes. When a lawman, or maybe just a gunman, named Stockburn (played by John Russell, a star of TV westerns) comes to town and hears a description of Preacher, he thinks he might know the man. But then he says, “The man I’m thinking about is dead.”

So maybe he’s a ghost. (Which doesn’t fit my theology, but can work in a film.) Maybe. Or maybe he’s an angel. Especially if you think angels are just people who died and went to heaven and got wings (eventually) like in It’s a Wonderful Life. (Again, not my theology, but whatever.) Or maybe he’s something else altogether; a miracle, an answer to prayer, who is also a killing machine.

The film opens with poor prospectors who’ve formed a small community to legally work their claims (immediately winning my sympathy, as I went to Piner High School and our mascot was The Prospector). Then horsemen working for a wealthy landowner, Coy Lahood, attack the camp, killing a young woman named Megan’s dog.

Megan goes off to bury her dog and seems to believe she knows the Scripture to recite for the situation, the 23rd Psalm. But she can’t stick to the text.

“‘I shall not want’...But I do want.

“‘He leads me beside still waters’...But they killed my dog.

“‘I will fear no evil’...But I am afraid. We need a miracle.

“‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ If you exist. But I want to experience this life first. But if you don’t help, we’re all going to die. Please? Amen.”

Overall, not a bad prayer for the situation.

A bit later we see Megan reading the Bible to her mother -- specifically Revelation 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse;” (partial title drop) “and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” And as that’s when Megan first sees the Preacher ride up on a pale horse.

It is not the first time the audience has seen Preacher. Shortly before, Hull Barrett, one of the poor prospectors, went to town to get supplies. He’s harassed by LaHood’s men but rescued by the Preacher. Hull doesn’t think of him at the time as a preacher, but as a probable gunman.

Still, Hull invites the stranger back to the mining camp. While the stranger freshens up for dinner, Hull sees what look like bullet scars on the man’s bare back. Then he sees something even more odd: the man puts on a clerical collar.

They dine with Megan and her mother Sarah. Hull awkwardly offers the Preacher (as they begin to call him) whiskey. “Nothing like a shot of whiskey to whet a man’s appetite,” the Preacher replies. Megan asks the Preacher to say grace and he offers a short prayer, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.”

After dinner, Hull explains his relationship with Sarah. Her husband left her, and he’s tried to help her and her daughter. “It ain’t I’m living in sin.” But he soon adds, “If I get hitched, can you do the hitching?”

The Preacher is noncommittal about the matter. But he does ask, “Could you put me to work?”  

Hull responds, “I couldn’t. Well, if there was something spiritual.”

To which the Preacher replies, “The spirit ain’t worth spit without a little exercise.”

Hull and the Preacher set about picking a large rock out of the river. LaHood’s son and a monster of a man, Club (Richard Kiel, who played Jaws in the Bond films), ride up to them. Hull introduces the new man, “He’s our new preacher.”

LaHood’s son (Christopher Penn) tells the Preacher he probably shouldn’t be staying around. The Preacher responds, “There’s a lot of sinners hereabouts, you wouldn’t want me to leave before I finish my work.”

To show his strength, Club breaks the great rock with one blow. “The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways,” the Preacher comments. He then proceeds to beat up Club.  

“Preacher my a#%” comments the young LaHood.

The senior LaHood (Richard Dysart) is not happy to hear there is a preacher with the miners. “You let a preacher into Carbon Canyon? When I left for Sacramento, their spirit was nearly broken. A man without spirit is whipped. But a preacher? He could give them faith. #*@$! One ounce of faith and they’ll be dug in deeper than ticks on a hound.”

So LaHood tries another method of dealing with the Preacher, not unlike the method Satan used on Jesus in the wilderness. He invites the Preacher to his office.

LaHood: “Do you imbibe, Reverend?”

Preacher: “Only after 9 in the morning.”

LaHood: “When I heard a parson had come to town, I had an image of a pale, scrawny, Bible-thumping Easterner with a linen handkerchief and bad lungs.”

Preacher: “That’s me.”

Lahood “Hardly. When I heard you were here I thought, why not invite this devout and humble man to preach in town, let the town be his parish? In fact, why not offer to build him a brand new church?”

Preacher:  “I can see where a preacher would be mighty tempted by an offer like that.”

LaHood: “Indeed.”

Preacher: “First thing he’d think about is getting a batch of new clothes.”

LaHood: “We’d have them tailor-made.”

Preacher: “Then he’d start thinking about those Sunday collections.”

LaHood: “Hell, in a town as rich as LaHood, that preacher’d be a wealthy man.”

Preacher: “That’s why it wouldn't work. Can’t serve God and Mammon both. Mammon being money.” (Glad you explained that, Preach.)

So the Preacher sticks with the miners, even when LaHood threatens with Sheriff Stockburn and his “deputies.”

The Preacher faces another temptation back at camp when Megan tells him, “I think I love you.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” the Preacher answers, ”If there was more love in the world, there’d probably be a lot less dying.”

“Can’t be anything wrong with making love either,” Megan adds.

Preacher answers, “I think it’s best to practice one for a while before you do the other… Most folks around would associate that with marriage.”  He then makes it clear to Megan he isn’t the marrying kind, quite upsetting the girl.

But when the badmen come, the Preacher takes them on in a gun battle, killing all.

So is he a ghost? Or an angel? Or death itself? Or just a preacher who is really good with a gun?

I’m really not sure, but I’m giving him three steeples, because I’m afraid of what he might do if I gave less.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Clint Eastwood Movie Churches Month: Get off My Lawn!

My mom hated to be called “Ms. Anderson”. She was very insistent that she should be called “Mrs.” and was offended when that “r” was dropped. This always amused me, because I think “Ms.” is so much more helpful. After all, you usually can’t tell someone’s marital status by looking at them. Guessing the correct gender is tough enough these days. But it is right and reasonable for people to be able to request to be addressed how they choose.

That’s why the priest in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino drives me crazy for a good portion of the film. The twenty-something priest, Father Janovich, calls Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski, a man in his seventies, “Walt.” The first time he does, Mr. Kowalski asks the priest to call him “Mr. Kowalski,” but the priest repeatedly, irritatingly, calls the man by his first name. Occasionally he slips in the proper title, but too often he goes back to the familiar. It’s a matter of respect.

Respect is a major theme in this film that Eastwood directed, stars in, and sings the theme song. Kowalski served in the Korean War and worked decades in the auto industry. He believes he deserves respect.,  but his two sons (and especially his grandchildren) do not respect him as he believes he deserves. They treat him like a grumpy, perhaps senile, old man. His neighbors don’t keep up their houses, letting the neighborhood go downhill, which he considers disrespectful. It seems like one of the few good relationships he had in life was with his wife, but as the film opens, she has just died.

The film opens at her funeral. Mr. Kowalski is obviously angry at his grandchildren for dressing inappropriately for the service, one grandson in a Detroit Lions jersey and a granddaughter with a bare midriff. The grandchildren kneel and make the sign of the cross as they enter the church, most saying “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” but one instead cracks “Spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch.” Kowalski is obviously livid at the lack of respect.

Father Janovich gives a homily at the service, saying that death for Catholics is “bittersweet;” difficult for those feeling the loss but also joyful at the thought of a loved one entering paradise. Kowalski doesn’t seem thrilled with the sermon.

The priest goes to the gathering at Walt’s home after the service. That’s where he makes his initial overly familiar greeting of Mr. Kowalski as “Walt.” He tells Mr. Kowalski that Dorothy (Mrs. Kowalski) made him promise he would get Kowalski to go to confession. Mr. Kowalski tells the priest, “I confess I never cared for church. I just went to for Dorothy’s sake. And I confess I have no desire to confess to a boy fresh out of seminary.” And Kowalski moves along.

A few weeks later, the priest goes to visit Kowalski and asks why he hasn’t been in church for weeks. He again addresses the man as “Walt.” Mr Kowalski tells him he has no use for “27 year old virgins who hold the hands of superstitious old women” with promises of an afterlife.

But the priest doesn’t give up. He tracks down Kowalski in a bar and again calls him “Walt.”

“Damn, Padre, you are persistent!” Walt responds. And I think that’s the priest’s most winning quality. He made a promise to Mrs. Kowalski and intends to follow through on his promise.

The priest orders a Diet Coke at the bar, and Kowalski rightfully calls him on that, reminding him he’s in a bar. So the priest orders a gin and tonic. Kowalski again goads the priest about his ignorance and the priest says that his training has taught him something about life and death.

This really sets Kowalski off. He tells the priest he knows nothing, and that the sermon at the funeral was “pathetic.” He says he learned about death in the Korean war.

The priest responds, “It sounds like you know more about death than you know about living.”

“Maybe so, Father, maybe so,” is the response.

The relationship between the old man and the priest is not the major relationship in the film, though. That would be between the relationship that develops between Kowalski and his Hmong neighbors, particularly a teenage sister and brother. The sister, Sue, tells “Wally” (she’s not big on last names or titles, either) about the Hmong people. He asks why people from Asia ended up in Michigan. She tells him the Lutherans are to blame, since they sponsored the placement of many Hmong in the midwest.

Sue and her brother, Thao, have problems with a local Hmong gang, and Kowalski steps in, threatening the gang members. The priest hears about this immediately, because we learn that he works with the gangs. (Which adds at least one steeple to this priest’s Movie Church rating)

Eventually, the persistence of the priest earns the old man’s respect. He goes to the priest for confession, and the priest assures him of God’s love and forgiveness. Kowalski even gives the priest permission to call him “Walt.”
Three Steeples for Gran Torino

Father Janovich eventually won me, along with Mr. Kowalski, over. The whole first name thing still annoys me though, so I’m giving the priest and the church in the film just three steeples.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Clint Eastwood Month: Your Arms Too Short to Box with God

Million Dollar Baby (2004)
“Boxing is about respect; getting it for yourself and taking it away from the other guy.” That’s a line from  Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris, the narrator played Morgan Freeman in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby. (If you want quick improvement for your film, have Morgan Freeman narrate it. See March of the Penguins and The Shawshank Redemption.)

Back to that remark about boxing and respect. It makes sense, because boxing could be described as the ultimate competition. One person fights another, with one winner and one loser. Million Dollar Baby is about boxing -- particularly a woman boxer, Maggie, played by Hilary Swank, with an elderly manager, Frankie played by Eastwood.

But the film’s problem for Movie Churches is the priest. He seems to view ministry as a competition, too. Brian F. O’Byrne plays Father Horvak, and he’s not a good priest. Not a bad priest, you know, relatively speaking here at Movie Churches. We’ve had molesters and murderers in the clergy here at Movie Churches, and he’s nothing like that. But he doesn’t do his job well.

Frankie, a cut man and boxing trainer, has been attending mass almost every day for 23 years, according to Father Horvak. (This is a bit puzzling, because actor O’Byrne was 37 when he made this film. Perhaps the priest began pastoring this church when he was 14?)

As viewers, we’re able to see that Frankie has a genuine faith. We see him alone in his room, kneeling by his bed to pray. He crosses himself and prays for his daughter and adds, “You know what I want, no use repeating myself.”

Later, we see Frankie coming out of church. The church sign reads, “Church of St. Mark.” (I wondered if there was if any churches have such a church name, since I’ve only seen names like, “St. Mark’s Catholic Church,” The Apostles are usually possessive when it comes to titles. But I did find a few churches with such names when I Googled around.)

Frankie approaches the priest and tells him, “Father, that was the best sermon yet, you made my week.”

The priest asks “What’s confusing you this week?”

“It’s the same one God, three God thing.”

“Frankie, most people figure out by kindergarten it’s about faith.”

“Is it sort of like Snap, Crackle, and Pop all three in one box?”

“Are you standing in front of my church comparing God to Rice Krispies?The only reason you come to church is to wind me up. There is one God.”

“What about the Holy Ghost?” Frankie asks.

“He’s an expression of God’s love.”

“And Jesus?”

“Son of God. Don’t play stupid.”

“So, he’s like a demigod?” Frankie asks.

“There are no demigods, you @#%@&ing pagan!” replies the priest.

I’m not that upset by a priest using a naughty word. What bothers me about this whole exchange is that the priest, after years, still allows himself to get involved in silly theological arguments when he knows that’s not the point. The priest admits later in the film he knows, “The only person that goes to church that much is the kind that can’t forgive himself for something.”

But instead of trying to help Frankie deal with his guilt, offering Christ’s forgiveness, the priest only adds to Frankie’s guilt. He continually asks Frankie whether he writes his daughter. And Frankie always says he does. And the priest calls him a liar, but the viewer knows Frankie does write to his daughter but gets them back, “Return to sender.” The priest is worse than useless in this counseling situation.

He’s even worse when Frankie comes to him with the greatest moral crisis of his life. (Spoiler alert! The movie’s been around for almost fifteen years, but skip to the end if you don’t want to know what happens next.)

His boxer, Maggie, has a tragic accident in the ring. Her neck is broken, and she becomes a quadriplegic. The doctors have no hope for a cure. So Maggie asks Frankie to kill her.

Frankie goes to church to pray for Maggie, and then he goes to the priest. The priest tells Frankie he can’t kill Maggie.

Frankie, obviously wrestling mightily with his conscience, says,  “I know, Father. But Maggie is so stubborn. But now she wants to die and I just want to keep her with me. And I swear to God, Father, it’s committing a sin to do it, but by keeping her alive I’d be killing her. Do you know what I mean? How do I get around that?”

“You don’t,” the priest says. “You step aside, Frankie, you leave her to God.”

“She’s not asking for God’s help. She’s asking for mine.”

‘Frankie,” the priest says, “Whatever sins you’re carrying, they’re nothing compared to this. If you do this thing, forget about God or heaven or hell. If you do this thing, you’ll be lost. Somewhere so deep you’ll never find yourself again.”

Just for starters, it’s never a good thing for a priest to say, “Forget about God,” because all the priest has to offer is God. And next, it is wrong to talk about sins, even euthanasia, as being unforgivable. I believe euthanasia is wrong, but there are many who have quite understandable reasons for committing the act. A priest can advise against it, but talking about it as something Frankie recover from is just wrong. Jesus said (in Matthew 12: 31), “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” I’ve read many explanations of what ‘blasphemy against the Spirit’ might be, but none of them have said it was euthanasia.

The worst thing about the priest in this situation is that he doesn’t even offer to visit Maggie himself. Leaving the church grounds seems to be too much of an effort for him. But he doesn’t approach anything from a positive perspective.

He could tell Frankie (and Maggie), the story of Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who found that God can use her in mighty ways though she’s a quadriplegic. But the priest doesn’t bring up Joni and Friends, only more guilt.  

So Frankie commits euthanasia and never returns to the church -- which seems to have been Father Horvak’s goal all along.

The film Million Dollar Baby was widely lauded, winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Eastwood, and Best Actress for Swank; but the Movie Church and the priest in the film are not so acclaimed. They earn only 2 Steeples.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Clint Eastwood Month: Nuns (or None Nuns)

Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
I was just reading an article about a Carmelite Sister named Begona Arroya. The article described her quite unnatural red hair dye and her thin green shawl that allowed her to blend with the prostitutes of southern Spain, to whom she ministers. “I dress so I won’t intimidate the women I need to reach,” the nun says.

The 1970 western Two Mules for Sister Sara is not about a nun mistaken for a prostitute, but rather a prostitute mistaken for a nun. (Sorry to start right off the bat with a spoiler, but the film is nearing fifty years old.) The film was directed by the great Don Siegel (Eastwood considered the man his mentor as a director) and came from a story by Budd Boetticher, another revered director of Westerns.

Shirley MacLaine plays Sara, who dresses as a nun because, as she explains, “In Mexico a nun can travel safely among murderers and thieves.” But as the film opens we see that this is not exactly true. Three men have stripped her and are about to rape her. She pleads with them, “You’re Christian men, how can you do this?” “Christian men?” They mock her, singing, “This is the way we go to church, go to church, go to church…”

But she is rescued by a man who happens upon them, a man named Hogan (played by Clint Eastwood). The men offer to “share” the woman with Hogan, which leads him to shoot the men (one in the back). When Sara puts on clothes, she is wearing a nun’s habit.

Sara asks for Hogan’s help in traveling the wilderness of Mexico, and Hogan agrees -- because she is a nun. He says, “Lady, if you weren’t a nun I’d let you save your own bacon.” He is quite annoyed when Sara makes him wait while she gives the men who tried to rape her a Christian burial. He points to the vultures overhead and argues, “Sister, are not those God’s creatures? We wouldn’t want to cheat them out of decent meal.”  But he lends her a shovel and does acknowledge her work as a “first class gravedigger.”

When the pair see soldiers of the French army, Sara admits she’s hiding from them because she raised money for the Mexican army seeking independence for Mexico. She tells him she opposes the injustice the French are practicing on the Mexican people. Hogan helps her to hide.

As they travel, Sara insists on stopping when she sees a shrine, arguing that not praying there would be sin. Hogan says, “It’s a small shrine, make it a short prayer.”

Hogan finds himself attracted to “Sister” Sara, which greatly annoys him. “Maybe a nun shouldn’t be so good looking,” he says.

“I’m married to Jesus Christ,” she answers.

“That’s what I’m steamed up about,” he says.

But as they travel he notices what he thinks are un-nunlike qualities on her part. She drinks and seems to handle her liquor well. (“That’s a lot of whiskey before breakfast,” he states. “My faith in God will turn the whiskey into water,” she explains.) She also uses words like “ass” (as a body part, not referring to one of her mules found in the title). And she seems quite comfortable in a cantina (though she makes a point of ordering lemonade). She does try to hide some things. She doesn’t let Hogan see her smoke.

When the two bunk down for the night (on separate bedrolls), Hogan says something that makes Sara laugh.

“It’s nice to hear you laugh, ma’am.”

“Do you think nuns don’t laugh?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never spent the night with one.” Which leads Hogan to ask, “Haven’t you ever wanted to be a whole woman?”

“I’ve chosen a different path. When those feeling come, I pray until they pass.”

“I didn’t know that nuns lied.”

When Sara’s spotted by a French soldier, she fears the worst, but the soldier only recognizes her habit. He calls her to comfort a dying officer. The officer recognizes her and calls her a “filthy bitch,” shocking the surrounding soldiers by directing such language at a nun. They apologize for him, assuming the dying officer is delirious. So she is safe.

When Hogan finally learns that Sara isn’t a nun, he’s angry. But Sara explains that he had said that he would have left her if she hadn’t been a nun. It is interesting that the film is set in a time and place when members of the clergy are assumed to be innocent and wholesome and in need of protection. But even back in that day, I’m sure there were plenty of Sisters like Begona Arroya who knew the realities of the world. I couldn’t help thinking of G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, who everyone assumes is innocent of evil, but who is actually quite knowledgeable on the subject due to confessions and the Scriptures.

There are a couple of churches in the film, but they’re just buildings. In one, the Mexican army hides. The rebels launch their attack on the French from the other. (At the latter church, the bishop had a secret tunnel so he could keep out of harsh weather between his house and the church building.) But we don’t see any authentic clergy in the films.

Still, because the church buildings are pretty, and because of the good things Sara does while she’s pretending to be a nun, we give the Movie Church in this very entertaining film Two Steeples.