Movie Mom

Movie Mom

List: Angel Movies

posted by Nell Minow

My fellow Beliefnet blogger Susan Gregg, has a new post about her favorite angel characters in movies and a link to a Beliefnet gallery about angels in movies and television in the past 20 years.

These are all good choices but of course I have to add some of my own recommendations, including some films from before 1990 as well. Claude Rains was a dapper angel assisting a boxer who was sent to heaven before his time in Here Comes Mr. Jordan, later remade with James Mason and Warren Beatty as Heaven Can Wait.

Spencer Tracy was a flier killed in a crash who came back as something between a ghost and an angel to help the woman he loved find love again in A Guy Named Joe, remade with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter as Always.

The most elegant angel in movie history had to be Cary Grant as Dudley in The Bishop’s Wife, gently helping an Episcopalian bishop remember that his priorities were his faith and his family, not the new cathedral. The remake, “The Preacher’s Wife,” stars Denzel Washington.

In “Wings of Desire,” angels observe rather than guide, and one of them finds heaven on earth.

Roy Scheider flirted with a sympathetic angel of death played by Jessica Lange in “All That Jazz.” In “A Matter of Life and Death” (sometimes called “Stairway to Heaven”) a dashing wartime aviator played by David Niven must argue for his life in a celestial court. In “Death Takes a Holiday,” Fredric March plays the Angel of Death who learns what it is that makes humans cling to life so dearly.

And don’t forget Clarence getting his wings at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey was not the only one who had a happy ending.

  • jestrfyl

    My all-time favorite Angel movie is Dogma. Sure it challenges contemporary cultural desire for cute charibs and wise and watchful guardians. But it is a powerful statement on faith too. And what an angel duo – Affleck & Damon!
    Another interesting angel movie is “Michael” with Travolta in the title role. It is another movie that challenges the cultural images. I like the Angel in a trenchcoat image.
    And even though its TV and not film, I am a real fan of Earl on “Saving Grace”. This weeks episode (7/7) was especially good.

  • Jeff

    If “Death Takes A Holiday” counts, then you have to consider “Meet Joe Black” as well.

  • Nell Minow

    Yes, Brad Pitt is very fine in that very uneven film. We should also add “On Borrowed Time,” where the Angel of Death gets caught in a tree.

  • Nell Minow

    I love “Dogma.” Don’t forget Alan Rickman in the film, another angel. And there is a muse and a disciple, and a bunch of demons show up as well. The film could only have been made by a believer.

  • jestrfyl

    regarding “Dogma”, “The film could only have been made by a believer.” I wonder what Kevin Smith would say about THAT!?
    Casting Alanis Morrisette as God was genius. Jason Lee was great too.

  • Nell Minow

    Kevin Smith is a church-going Catholic. He may not believe in everything the Catholic church teaches, but he is a self-described believer. And I agree with you about Alanis Morisette and Jason Lee.

  • Alicia

    Good movies, all, Nell, though I must admit “The Bishop’s Wife” is not my favorite Cary Grant performance. I don’t think he quite had a handle on how to play the character, and it shows.
    You can perhaps answer an angel movie question that has bugged me for some time. I think I’ve mixed up “The Bishop’s Wife” with another film, but in the film I remember, the end was in a nursery (or in the newborn room in a hospital) with infants who had either just been reincarnated, or had been angels and were now being reborn as real children.
    I’ve mixed it up with Cary Grant as an angel, and I noticed there was a scene in “The Bishop’s Wife” near the end that took place in Loretta Young’s little daughter’s nursery.
    Any clue which film that was with the reincarnated angels?

  • Nell Minow

    I agree, Alicia — Grant is too dreamy to be an angel. I wonder if the movie you are thinking of is the sequel to “Here Comes Mr. Jordan,” called “For Heaven’s Sake.” Clifton Webb is an angel in charge of putting heavenly souls into babies’ bodies and one couple is delaying having a baby so he comes to earth to try to get things moving. Do you think that is it?

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell,
    I bet “For Heaven’s Sake” is the one – thanks! I will see if it is available on Netflix.
    You are very knowledgeable about movies!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Alicia! Quite a compliment from a classic movie buff!

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. I just read the description on the Internet Movie Database, and I think “For Heaven’s Sake” is definitely the angel movie I was thinking of – unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have it. Oh well.
    Thanks for your help!

  • Nell Minow

    I was afraid of that! Thanks for letting me know and here’s hoping that TCM or some nice DVD source will make it available. It is a lovely film and I have not seen it since I was a kid.

  • Linda STevens

    My very favorite Angel, is the Angel (Fairy God Mother)in Cinderella! And All Dogs Go to Heaven.

  • paula

    My all time favourite angel movie is “The Bishop’s Wife”‘…nothing beats that movie!!!

  • Deborah

    MICHEAL best angel movie

  • Sondra Newton

    Oh all of these are my favorite. I love old moves by when you put in an Angel it just seems so real..Clarence was the tops…



  • Leandrea

    My favorite Angels movies are It A Wonderful life,City of Angels,and MICHEAL

  • Linda Stevens

    One of my favorite Angel Movies “Made in Heaven” with Timothy Hutton and “Almost an Angel” with the Crocadile Dundee guy in it. Michael was great too- sad ending though..

  • Nell Minow

    Great suggestions!
    Thanks to all.

  • MS. T


  • Nell Minow

    I am very happy to hear from the fans of “Michael,” an off-beat but very endearing film. I love that dance number!

  • Carol

    Hi! I’m trying to figure out the name of a movie I watched sometime around 2003.
    There’s a woman who is pregnant with a little boy, but he doesn’t want to be born. He is sent down to earth to look around, but no one can see him. If he isn’t born that will mess up the birth pattern: no one will be allowed to be born either.
    In the end he does decide to be born.
    Oh, in the movie, when he comes down to earth, he had curly, red hair and I think a blue jacket.. I think his name was Ben, but I’m not sure.
    Do you know what movie that is? I’ve been trying to find it for ages, and nothing.. I think it’s a 90’s movie or 2000, not sure..

  • Nell Minow

    Hi, Carol! That movie is “Delivering Milo” with Bridget Fonda and I am glad to say it is available on DVD. Enjoy!

  • Carol

    Thank you sooo much!

  • Just

    I’ve been trying to figure out this movie a boy goes to catholic and at the end he meets his guardian angel in the form of a child he’d seen allover school

  • Erika

    Hi there,
    To be honest Im not sure you will be able to help me figure out what Im looking for but I just have to try anyway…lol.
    Maybe 2 years or so (give or take)I was watching this movie in which I believe that Matt damon was cast as an angel. For the life of me I cannot remember the title of this movie…but as I remember it God had sent down the strongest of his angels to save the world and some were having trouble overcoming their natural wish to be like humans…in the movie a female angel had been stripped of her wings and left on earth. apparently many angels had lost their wings and were disappearing…etc. It was a very cool movie which portrayed how angels are said to feel about humans, and the relationship between God and his holiest warriors.
    Is there any chance You might know the name of this movie??

  • Nell Minow

    Erika, the only movie I know of with Matt Damon as an angel is “Dogma,” a controversial Kevin Smith movie with Ben Affleck and Alan Rickman as angels, Chris Rock as a disciple, and Alanis Morrisette as God. But that does not sound like the one you are thinking of. Could you be thinking of “City of Angels” with Nicolas Cage?

  • Patrick

    hello there im Danish so before i start im sorry for the bad gramma…:D
    I dont know if you can help but i really hope so… it’s kind a important to me…
    i had seen a movie for long time ago know but it just landed in my head i dont know the title and the acters names but its about an Angel theres been but on earth and it started to loose it feathers and then left to die… pleae what’s the title of this movie i have to own it…

  • Nell Minow

    Welcome, Patrick! Can you remember any other details about the movie? Is it an American film? Could it be “Michael” with John Travolta? He plays an angel who loses his feathers.

  • Your Name

    ive also been lookin forr the name of this movie about a boy who goes to a catholic school and at the end he meets his gurdian angel who is in a body of a boy and hes seen him all over school.

  • BARBARA kramer

    would like to know the name of a movie where and old man has a heart attach while driving the bus but steers the bus to safty in just enough time and some young teenage angles come to help

  • Colleen

    I just finished watching GABRIEL. It is a low-budget Australian movie set in purgatory. The main character, Gabriel, is played by Andy Whitfield, who plays Spartacus on the Starz series Spartacus:Blood and Sand. The movie is very interesting and the ending made me think about the many different ways angels have been portrayed. I would not recommend watching this with children it has violence and sexual scenes.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Colleen! I’ll keep an eye out for it — sounds very intriguing.

  • Linda

    Ive been trying to recall a movie i watched maybe from the 80’s or 90’s .All i recall is a a female is in a car or something and she has white wings,this guy puts a jacket over her to cover her wings and the angel likes to eat french fries i think.I think she does not speak.

  • Nell Minow

    Hi, Linda! That’s a 1987 film called “Date with an Angel.” Enjoy!

  • TL

    I’m looking for a old film from the 40’s or 50’s that involves a train ride to heaven or judgment.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Chrystal

    I’m looking for a movie that I think is from the 60’s with an angel that I believe is named Charlie. He is trying to help a man and his son who has gotten mixed up with bootleggers. Any idea?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Johnnie

    Does anyone know the name of the movie about this guy who is wearing sunglasses at night falls into a manhole and dies. Comes back as an angel/ghost helps a girl he ends up falling in love with. At the end he is reborn as her new neighbor. I remember a part about him liking classical movies like Godzilla. Can’t find any reference to it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment hanne

    Has anyone seen a movie with 2 kids separated but the boys was and evil one where in he tries to control an accident in front of his school and then i can’t remember if it was a classmate who was born the same day as he and was the angel who stared and prevented the accident. i think it’s the same with the one asked boy who went to catholic school.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Benoit Goyette

    Those movie was my favorite. Some good movies with value. Now, it’s a demonic chaotic movie with violence, sex and disgusting thing like Kick-Ass 2.

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