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21 Great Leadership Movies

February 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Book Club, Cardinal Virtues, Justice, Vicki Burbach

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The Four Cardinal Virtues (Week 7 of 12)

If political life is to regain its dignity, a proper appreciation of the eminence of the ruler’s task and of the lofty human qualities required for it must be revived in the mind of the public. This means the very opposite of a totalitarian glorification of power. It implies rather that an arduous and unremitting effort of education should impart to the people an incontrovertible ideal image of the requirements a man must meet if he is to exercise authority. – The Four Cardinal Virtues (Justice: Chapter 6, Paragraph 25)

21 Great Leadership Movies

Be honest. Is there anyone else out there who’s starting to wonder whether they’ve signed up for a graduate level course on moral philosophy rather than a casual book club devoted to spiritual growth?

While certainly profound in content, I’ll be the first to admit that this book is a far cry from others we’ve read over the past three years. Take heart. If we stick it out, we’re bound to approach the next book and those that follow with a much greater depth of understanding and appreciation.

Regarding this week’s reading…

The above passage clearly calls for a commitment on the part of the public to appreciate what is required for leadership and to impart that appreciation to our children. The way I see it, we could discuss that from a philosophical level – and I’ll admit, after two hours of intense reading today I felt moved to draft a dissertation on Distributive Justice and the Deterioration of Leadership in America – OR, we could lighten things up a bit.

I have taken it upon myself to direct our discussion toward the latter.

So Let’s talk movies!

Seriously. Is there a lighter, less taxing way to inspire an appreciation and respect for great leadership qualities than a good two-hour movie?

Or a more effective (as well as quick and painless) means of educating our children?

So I thought I’d begin the discussion by sharing some of my favorite leadership movies. Or perhaps I should clarify by saying, movies that depict important leadership qualities – or that illustrate the dangers of corrupt leadership.

Before I begin the discussion, however, I should make a confession. I am not much of a movie connoisseur. It’s not that I don’t like movies. I just don’t get around to them as often as I’d like. And when I do, I’m very much a creature of habit. What can I say? When I go to Panera Bread, I order chicken noodle soup and a pumpkin muffin. At McDonalds (don’t judge), I order a hamburger (pickles, onions, and lettuce only) and a small fry. And when I want to watch a movie, I often go back to my tried and true favorites. Over and over and over again. Clearly, I'm not a big fan of experimentation. There is an exception to every rule, however – and I am quick to watch any movie suggested by a trusted friend. So please, broaden my horizons by adding your favorites to the list. My family will be ever grateful to you for offering us some new material : )

Note to families with children:  A few of the movies on this list are rather violent.  After all, strong leaders are often made during times of war or great conflict.  Please be sure to watch movie trailers before renting for family movie night.

Here goes –

21 Great Leadership Movies


1. A Man for All Seasons  (1966) – (Hands down, BEST EVER – no matter what you add to the list)

The rest, in no particular order:

2.  Pope John Paul II (John Voight, Cary Elwes) (2006)

3.  Mother Teresa (Olivia Hussey) (2006)

4.  Remember the Titans (2000)

5.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

6.  For Greater Glory (2012)

7.  Air Force One (1997)

8.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

9.  Apollo 13 (1995)

10. Courageous (2011)

11. Clear and Present Danger (1994)

12. Lean on Me (1989)

13. Amazing Grace (2006)

14. The Patriot (2000)

15. Invictus (2009)

16. When the Game Stands Tall (2014)

17. Forever Strong (2008)

18. Ghandi (1982)

19. 12 Angry Men (1957)

20. Going My Way (1944)

21. Boystown (1938)


So what movies would you add to the list?


Reading Assignment:

Justice: Chapter 7; Fortitude: Chapter 1-2

Discussion Questions:

1. Are there any leadership movies you would like to add to the list?  Any that I've mentioned with which you disagree?  Please share what movies and why.

2. The chapter this week was specifically about distributive justice.  Please share any thoughts you have on that topic.

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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