This list, from the Rev. JAZ, is our first free peek at our summer issue. If you’d like to order a copy, check them out here

the-best-of-everything-movie-poster-1959-1020212556Les Miserables In any version, this is the gold standard. You know the scene: Jean Valjean steals the Bishop’s silver in the middle of the night. When the police bring him back to the Bishop’s house to answer for his stash, the Bishop adds two silver candlesticks to the bag full of stolen property, and then dismisses the police. “Today I bought your soul.”

The September Issue (2009) A fine documentary about the ins and outs of office life at Vogue magazine. It’s primarily a study of infamous Anna Wintour, but also includes the gracious antidote to her iciness—that of legendary stylist, Grace Cottington. At one point Anna says she wants to Photoshop the gut off of a member of the film crew who is featured in a shoot for the upcoming issue. When Grace hears of Anna’s wishes, she immediately calls the photo-editors, undoing Anna’s order to alter the image, all the while being filmed by the recipient of Grace’s aesthetic pardon.

The Best of Everything (1959) One of the film’s heroines becomes pregnant after falling for a seductive playboy. She then loses the baby when she throws herself from a moving car after discovering that her beau is driving her to a place where the baby can be “taken care of.” When she comes to in the hospital, she is overcome with remorse, convinced no one will ever want to marry her because of this unseemly episode in her personal history. In an unanticipated and gracious twist, the doctor who treats her, knowing full well what has transpired in her life, falls in love with her and soon proposes. It’s a memorable drama, full of Christian dimension.

Red Beard (1965) A movie that absolutely drips with pastoral insight, includes the story of a young girl who allows a thief to steal food from the hospital. When the other nurses discover what she has done, they ostracize her from the life of the community. But the thief returns the next day to thank the girl, and the interaction is overheard by one of the head nurses. The series of events that follow will blow your mind! My all-time favorite film.

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) Homer has lost both of his arms in World War II, only to have them replaced with two hooks. He is convinced that his fiancé will no longer love him when she sees that he has become a freak, and sets out to jeopardize the future of their relationship. One night, she confronts him, in an unforgettable and moving scene. Shortly afterward, hands holding hooks, the two are united in marriage.

Terms of Endearment (1983) Jack Nicholson plays a womanizing retired astronaut living in Houston, enters into a relationship with his incredibly eccentric, uptight neighbor (Shirley MacLaine). But when her adult daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he high-tails it, ending things when they become too serious. Yet, to Shirley MacLaine’s surprise, he eventually doubles back, in an incredibly poignant moment, culminating in the line: “Well who ever thought you would turn out to be a nice guy?” Trespasses are forgiven; she softens, and Nicholson finally becomes a committed partner.

MPW-68223Letters to Father Jacob (2009) A brilliant Finnish movie, recounting the story of recently released female convict who is taken in by a retired, blind Lutheran pastor. Full of moving vignettes involving the woman’s realization that her crimes are not being held against her by this kind man, the film’s final scene is a heart-melter of the highest order. Bring tissues.

Stagecoach (1939) This John Ford classic includes the development of a loving relationship between John Wayne and a former prostitute. Whenever others wish to condemn her because of her past, he stands up for her. It’s classic woman-at-the-well dynamic, born out in gorgeous, almost unparalleled black-and-white film-making.

Luther (2003) This biopic elaborate upon a quote found in Luther’s Table Talk. Soon after the young priest, Martin, arrives at his first parish, a teenage parishioner hangs himself. In an incredibly moving scene, we see Luther cutting the boy down. And then he breaks with Church protocol, burying the boy himself in the parish graveyard after the grave digger refuses to accommodate “a suicide.” “I tell you this boy was murdered by the devil! …God is mercy,” he pronounces to aghast onlookers. And every pew is filled in church the following Sunday.

General Della Rovere (1959) One of the many greatly profound films of Roberto Rossellini, whose films are a must for Christian movie buffs. In General Della Rovere, a broke conman tries to sell a counterfeit diamond ring to a group of women. The gathering includes a woman who loves him, and who knows full well that the ring is a sham. Out of love for him, she tries to buy it from him at the full asking price. The man is undone by the gesture, and his character is transformed almost instantaneously. The rest of the film explores the outworkings of this experience of forgiveness.

Stars in My Crown (1950) When freed slave, Uncle Famous, refuses to sell his small parcel of land to an industrialist, the KKK are sent to help convince him. But Parson Josiah Gray steps in, and one of the most incredible moments of film forgiveness ensues.