While a list like this is highly subjective, it is not random. Religious films like Ben Hur
(1959), The Ten Commandments
(1956) and others to which social conservatives
could claim obvious ownership were not included. Films had to be English in language and American in style. This precluded films like The Bicycle Thief
(1948) and The Passion of Joan of Arc
(1928), which could also be considered conservative masterpieces. Ironically, several films are products of liberal actors and directors, which is why liberal activist Tom Hanks appears in three. For whatever reason, he seems drawn to conservative roles.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
(2007) Directed by Jason Reitman. No list of conservative films is complete without this touching tale of teen pregnancy and its consequences. The obvious pro-life message is enough to certify the film as socially conservative, but this movie appeals to conservatives of every stripe for a variety of reasons. Juno a self-reliant teenager, as well as a loyal friend and confidante for the father of her unborn baby. The importance of family is frequently repeated theme; from the moment Juno resolves to inform her parents to the disgust she expresses when she learns of the adoptive father plan to divorce his wife. Juno is a film that conservatives will want to watch again and again.
(1942) Directed by Michael Curtiz. Rick Blaine is perhaps the most iconic conservative character ever portrayed on film. His rugged individualism, his detached patriotism and his willingness to give up everything he loves for the sake of freedom and liberty
are characteristics that modern-day heroes tend to only embody individually, never together. Set during the last war in which good and evil were clearly defined, Casablanca
celebrates all that’s best about the conservative ideology. Rick's Café Américain serves as a respite for those fleeing the oppression of Europe. As its owner, Rick is much more than a "citizen of the world," as Renault would have us believe. Holding two tickets to freedom, Rick is a symbol of the American spirit.
(1994) Directed by Robert Zemeckis. There is a curious irony in the character of Forrest Gump. Despite a penetrating morality that always directs him to do and say the right thing, it is important to remember that Gump is also penetratingly stupid. Whether this is a liberal statement on the tenets of conservatism or simply an intriguing plot device is of no consequence. Forrest Gump is a film that transcends politics for many people, even while its main character embodies all the tenets of conservatism; Forrest is a staunch capitalist, a fervent patriot, a subtle pro-lifer, a happy traditionalist and a devoted family man. Forrest Gump
is a sweet film that champions moral clarity over intellectual superiority.
(2008) Directed by Christopher Nolan. While superheroes have always engendered the traits of conservatism, The Dark Knight
takes on the compellingly modern problem of terrorism and answers it in a compellingly conservative manner: never give in. This theme is underscored when Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes, discusses with Wayne’s butler, Alfred, the question of whether Batman should have revealed his alter-ego, giving in to the villainous Joker's demands. “Batman stands for something more important than a terrorist’s whims,” Alfred says. The Dark Knight
examines the moral complexity of society and defines the sacrifices that come with putting the greater good ahead of one’s own desires.
(2006) Directed by Gabrielle Muccino. The Pursuit of Happyness
is a film that shows hard work, dedication, loyalty and trust can result in success and “happyness” for any American, regardless of race, gender or creed. It is an instructional piece about the tradition of “stick-to-it-iveness” that has made America a land of hope and opportunity for so many. This film’s main themes -- the primacy of the family, the blessings of free and open markets, the necessity of staying true to one’s ideals -- are all conservative concepts. With a stirring performance by Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
is a tribute to conservative values big and small.
(1995) Directed by Ron Howard. An extremely patriotic film, Apollo 13
tells the story of how four American astronauts snatched glory from the jaws of defeat. It’s a film that portrays how Americans come together in a time of crisis, and how each person, regardless of his or her significance, can contribute to the success of society. The film shows American ingenuity at its best, and its conservative messages of faith, self-reliance and patriotism are all the more underscored when taking into account that the movie is based on a true story.
(1946) Directed by Frank Capra. An idyllic film by Frank Capra, a director who came to America from Italy when he was four-years-old and realized the American dream, It’s a Wonderful Life
is a quintessential American tale that emphasizes tradition, faith and the value of life, all conservative concepts. It’s also a story about the strength of community and the importance of charitable small-town values. No other film expresses the function of civil society in the life of the individual better than It’s a Wonderful Life
(1998) Directed by Stephen Spielberg. This film’s first 15 minutes shocked audiences when it was first released, because it was one of the first movies to depict the horror of war in all its gruesome reality. Although it tells a fictional story, Saving Private Ryan
accurately reflects the tragic effects of war and portrays the kind of selfless honor that goes with the men and women who voluntarily serve their country during wartime. In all facets, this film is distinctly American, and it honors a sacred tradition.
(1977) Directed by George Lucas. After counterculture films had dominated American cinema for nearly eight straight years, the release of Star Wars
made films with conservative messages “cool” again. Star Wars
tells the story of an orphaned boy whose wanderlust and firey moral compass catapult him toward a higher calling; namely saving a princess, a planet and a cause greater than himself. A classic “good vs. evil” yarn, Star Wars
is filled with morally complex themes that include fidelity to faith, the importance of loyalty and self-reliance, a willingness to do the right thing in the face of staggering odds and even the redemption of a corrupted spirit.
(1986) Directed by John Hughes. Perhaps the most subversively conservative film to ever come out of Hollywood, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
wastes no time in delivering several key themes inherent to modern American political conservatism. In the first scene, after his parents believe he has an undetermined illness, Ferris talks about his disregard for European socialism and his pragmatic approach to life – “A person should not believe in an ‘ism;’ he should believe in himself.” Later in the film, conservative Ben Stein makes his acting debut as Bueller’s history teacher. The film shines a favorable light on Ferris’ entrepreneurial spirit and identifies the importance of family, friendship and community.
Every once in a while a movie comes along that has the ability to change peoples' lives. The Blind Side
is exactly that kind of movie. It reflects the best and worst parts of our society, from the drug-ravaged inner cities and overwhelmed child welfare agencies to the people in America who are willing to act on their faith and leave society better than they found it. Sandra Bullock turns in an Academy Award-winning performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy suburban decorator who sees a young man on the fringe of society and finds it impossible to turn her back on him. The story is based on the life of standout left tackle Michael Oher, who went on to become a star at Ole Miss before being picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.