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The Values of Old Movies

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Gary discusses the value and values of classic films from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Dan Gilbert, writing in Hell Over Hollywood in 1942, stated that “Hollywood has a power to shape, to mold, to direct and control the life of America which exceeds that of any dictator.”[1] Like so many Christians today, Gilbert, who was the Chairman of the Christian Newspaper Men’s Committee to Investigate the Motion Picture Industry, John R. Rice,[2] and Lester F. Sumrall,[3] wrote off the film industry as unredeemable. Where were Christian writers, producers, and directors when they could have made a difference?

Not all the movies from the 1930s through the mid-1960s were bad. In fact, there are some great films that are worth seeing even though some of the actors were hardly saints. Such characters can be found in every profession and occupation. Should we condemn all businesses because of WorldCom, Enron, and Martha Stewart? After hearing about the latest ongoing Washington scandal maybe politics should be off limits to Christians. But if we took this course of action, then we would have to give up the Christian faith itself since it is built on the Bible which is filled with scoundrels and knaves, and yet it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Ps. 119:105).

If films, like books, have been used to shape people’s views on history, philosophy, religion, and everything else, then why haven’t Christians been involved in the process of making films that edify and instruct as well as entertain? How many high school students believe the play Inherit the Wind is an accurate portrayal of the 1925 Scopes Trial? Probably a majority of them. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code has caused Christians and non-Christians alike to question the texts on which the Christian faith is founded. The Star Wars saga did more to popularize esoteric religions than any college course ever did.

Many Christians will use these examples as evidence that pop culture is something to be avoided. They’re like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not celebrate birthdays because John the Baptist was martyred in celebration of a birthday. This type of logic brings the following verse to mind: “And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8). Secularists have learned how to use films to propagate their worldview; Christians need to do the same.

Using Classic Films to Teach the Christian Worldview

Gary DeMar makes the point that classic movies are excellent teaching tools for a Christian worldview—for children and adults. Classic movies are often heavily dialogue-based, which provides a necessary counterpoint to the visually stimulating and soundbite-driven modern method of moviemaking. Real life is about real conversations, and classic movies provide a great virtual training ground for thinking and living in the real world of ideas and consequences. Also includes illustrated PDF ebook that helps to reinforce and explain the concepts discussed in the lecture.

Buy Now

Gary discusses a newspaper article about old movies sent in from a listener. Gary’s interest in movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood goes deep and this article rekindled his passion and sparked this episode. The classic films are not only fun (and usually clean) entertainment, they can (and should) be used to teach the Christian worldview.

Click here for today’s episode

Click here to browse all episodes of The Gary DeMar Podcast

[1] Dan Gilbert, Hell Over Hollywood: The Truth about the Movies (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1942), 9.
[2] John R. Rice, What is Wrong with the Movies? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938).
[3] Lester F. Sumrall, Worshipers of the Silver Screen (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1940).

American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Visit for more information, content and resources


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