More / Book of the Month / 10 Movies That ... Deal With Coveting - 9th Commandment

10 Movies That ... Deal With Coveting - 9th Commandment

10 Movies That ... Deal With Coveting - 9th Commandment

Reformation Rush Hour

So you like movies? Here's a list of 10 movies that deal with Coveting your neighbour's house. Listen to Pastors Ted Giese and Craig Donofrio talk about their picks on the Reformation Rush Hour program on KFUOam radio. Also these 2 lists of 5 movies are not movie recommendations, generally speaking this is a conversation about movies that delve into the 9th Commandment from Luther's Small Catechism, many/most of these movies are not salutary or beneficial.  As usual Giese and Donofrio ponder the big questions: In this instalment Craig wonders whether he maybe should have been a realtor and there's even a brief discuss on how Baptists and Lutherans number the Commandments differently. Giese looking specifically at situations dealing with houses. Donofrio starts big, with coveting the whole world, and moves his way down eventually to dealing with aspects of the 9th Commandment dealing with the home: World - Land - Town - House.

Watch the film trailers and film clips for these 2 lists of 5 movies here and click here to listen to Donofrio and Giese's conversation about these films. The whole hour is dedicated to the 9th Commandment and the movies. Apparently coveting couldn't be satisfied with just one hour of radio! It needed more.

The 9th Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbour's house. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbour's inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.  Get the appGet the book

Giese's List Of 5 Picks

5) Drag Me To Hell (2009) Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language

Last time while talking about coveting and the 10th Commandment the movie A Simple Plan by Sam Rami came up and Giese said it was like Rami had Luther's Small Catechism in his back pocket while he was writing the film, here again Rami seems to have the Catechism in his back pocket. This time it's not a crime thriller but a horror film. In "Drag Me to Hell" Rami sets up the whole film with a rather nuanced and clever depiction of coveting where a young lady working at a bank is tempted to foreclose on an old woman's house (when mercy was an opinion) in order to potentially get a better job at the bank .

Feel free to listen to this extended audio clip from the film (Part of it is found in the first video clip embedded above). In the audio listen as Christine Brown an ambitious and attractive young lady, with an inferiority complex, both covets the job of assistant bank manager and worries that the new guy will get it because he's a guy and he's chummy with the bank manager. The bank manager, in an indirect manner, tells her that she has to be able to make the 'tough decision' if she wants the job. She's given the perfect opportunity when an old lady Mrs. Ganush comes for an extension on her mortgage payments.  What will young Miss Brown do? Will she help Mrs. Ganush and be of service to her in keeping her house? Or will she scheme to get Mrs. Ganush's house in a way which only appears right?

4) The Money Pit (1986) PG

Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) and Anna Crowley (Shelley Long) have to start looking for a new house - but there's not much they can afford! In The Money Pit their covetous desires to have the big fancy house gets them in over their head . They didn't scheme to get the house - they bought it out right but they were taken advantage of in the sale. They would have done better to have requested a full disclosure before buying the house  turns out the guy who sold it to them, an old con artist, knew it was a lemon before he sold it to them. The house "appeared" all-right until they had the deed in their hands however the second they move into the house it starts falling apart: The stairway collapsing, the bathtub falls through the floor, eventually the chimney falls into the house! There is a great couple scenes involving Tom Hanks and a carpet, the first of those scenes is included in the second clip embedded above. The Money Pit is a screw-ball comedy but may come off as a horror film to anyone who has been caught with a lemon of a house in real life or anyone who has been trapped in renovation hell. 

3) House of Sand and Fog (2003) Rated R for some violence/disturbing images, language and a scene of sexuality

In House of Sand and Fog an emotionally broken woman, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), finds herself homeless after her house is wrongly repossessed and auctioned. Behrani (Ben Kingsley), a proud emigrant Iranian and ex Iranian army colonel and his family buy the house at the County auction and move in only to find their new lives burdened by conflict as Kathy attempts to reclaim her former home. In this tragic film both Kathy and Behrani claim ownership of the house and for different reasons they become covetous of each other. The house was an inheritance from Kathy's father which for personal reasons Behrani coveted when he saw how cheaply it could be purchased. Even though it was incorrectly sold at auction for an extraordinary low price Behrani becomes the legal owner at which point Kathy starts to covet the house that once legally belonged to her. Painfully the film slowly moves to a heartbreaking conclusion fuelled by covetous desires and ignited by personal entitlement, each party claiming their rightful ownership of the house in question. The drama of the film comes in the tension between Kathy and Behrani concerning the question of ownership.  

2) Pacific Heights (1990) Rated R-Language, Some Violence and Sexuality

In Pacific Heights a yuppie couple (Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith) buy a large house in an exclusive San Francisco neighbourhood. They renovate it and plan to rent two apartments on the first floor to cover the costs. Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton) moves in but is not the model tenant. He never pays any rent, drives the other tenants away and systematically ruins the lives of his landlords, even breeding cockroaches in an attempt to force the owners and other tenants out of the house so that he can have it for his own purposes. Hayes has done this sort of thing before and is very crafty and dangerous he's not interested in helping the couple keep their house. Along with his many other character defects Hayes simply covets the house for his own and knows no limits as he escalates his harassment in a bid to get the house. This film fits into the category of thriller.  

1) Unbreakable (2000) Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including some disturbing violent content, and for a crude sexual reference

In a number of the films the ownership of the land/house is in question, or at the least is contested in some way. At the end of Unbreakable a situation presents itself where the title character of David Dunn (Bruce Willis ) helps a family get their house back after a sociopathic criminal acting out on his covetous desires perpetrates a home invasion.  In this unique superhero movie the bleak prospect of having someone take a house by force is tempered by the heroic efforts of Dunn where he serves his neighbour in keeping his house. In addition to the trailer there is a bit of audio of writer/producer/director M. Night Shyamalan talking about a moment from his childhood that helped inspire the climax of the film, listen to Shyamalan tell his story and consider the terror associated even just with the fear of having someone acting out on the sin of coveting, let alone the reality that people all over the world periodically face when this sin gives birth to property theft.

Donofrio's List Of 5 Picks

5) Independence Day (1996) Rated PG-13 for sci-fi destruction and violence

First up for Craig, a movie about those who would take the World: Yup, we're talking covetous space aliens. Craig says "I'm with that one lady who says 'I hope they bring back Elvis' ... [apparently] our best weapons are Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum. When all else fails, when the aliens come, leave it to America, we'll take care of it." Honourable mention in the category of 'Space Aliens who come to take over the world because they covet it for their own' would be the TV miniseries "V" and Mars Attacks where yodeling saves the Universe. Also included in the second clip embedded above is a rather short but memorable moment from the movie involving the family dog, this is 7 seconds of Hollywood at its finest.

4) Quigley Down Under (1990) Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western violence and shootings, brief nudity and some language

Second up for Craig a movie about those who would take the Land: A little more serious look at people who covet the land that belongs to others and how individuals can be caught up in the middle other peoples covetousness.  In Quigley Down Under a Montana Sharpshooter, Matt Quigley (Tom Selleck), is hired by an Australian rancher (Allan Rickman, the villain of the 1990's) who is looking for someone with a special talent in long distance shooting. When Quigley arrives he discovers that the rancher wants Quigley to rid his land of aborigines by shoot them at a distance, Quigley refuses to do this and ends up fighting on behalf of the aborigines he was brought to exterminate. The question at hand in the film is who owns the land. In the second clip embedded above the Australian rancher presents some of his opinions on the matter to Quigley (the sound in the clip cuts off a little early).      

3) Blazing Saddles (1974) Rated R for language, comic violence, and some sexual innuendo

Third up for Craig a movie about those who would take the Town: A little less serious look at people who covet a small western town and how individuals can be caught up in the middle of a villainous moustache twirling covetous scheme.  In the politically incorrect comedy Blazing Saddles Hedley Lemar (Harvy Korman) the State Attorney General covets the town of Rock Ridge because it sits smack dab in the middle of a railway development. In this case the land that the town sits on is worth more than the town and owning Rock Ridge would make Lemar a pile of money. His scheme hinges on the fact that town is filled with racists. Lemar figures sending in a black sheriff, Bart (Cheavon Little), would force the racist townsfolk to leave and he'd then be able to get Rock Ridge for himself.  Just for fun, in the second clip embedded above is the short but memorable scene involving Mongo (Alex Karras) and a horse.       

2) Beetlejuice (1988) PG

Fourth up for Craig a movie about those who would take the House: Again we have Michael Keaton (and again there are cockroaches - only this time Keaton's eating them), in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice Keaton plays Beetlejuice a ghost who complicates the afterlife of a dead couple, the Maitlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis), who find themselves haunting the house they owned just prior to their accidental and untimely deaths. Adam and Barbara Maitland aren't very good at haunting and Beetlejuice helps them haunt the new owners the Deetz family.  Beetlejuice doesn't give a Biblical depiction of the afterlife but it does delve, albeit humorously, into a notion that many people believe, the idea that the dead can haunt houses and that coveting the house to themselves ghosts scare people away so that they can presumably rest in peace. The Christians hoped for rest doesn't come in the form of a quiet and seemingly abandoned earthly house, rather it comes in the promises of Jesus and an afterlife with Him as He promises in John chapter 14 where Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also." Again just for fun, in the second clip embedded above is a memorable clip from Beetlejuice where the hunting of the Deetz family takes on a musical dimension during a dinner party.        

1) Happy Gilmore (1996) Rated PG-13 for language and some comic sexuality

Fifth up, Craig's number one is also a movie about those who would take the House: In Happy Gilmore The grandmother of a down on his luck professional hockey player, Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler), is about to have her house taken away by the IRS because she's not paid her taxes, she owns $270,000. Gilmore takes us the sport of golf to win tournament money so that he can pay back the IRS on his grandmothers behalf and graciously save her house from being sold out from under her.  In the process Gilmore  discovers that home is more than a house. Regardless he still makes the effort to help his grandmother keep her house in the face of losing it. Here again is a positive example of fulfilling the commandment. This comedy is of course not the gold standard of moral virtue, nevertheless beneath it all the beats the heart of the 9th Commandment. The second clip embedded above is about "home" and how Gilmore's ball doesn't want to go there. Also as of September 9th 2014 Bob Barker is very much still alive, he was born on December 12, 1923 and memorably dukes it out with Adam Sandler in this goof-ball comedy.

Honourable Mentions:

Lakeview Terrace

Henry V (Shakespeare)

13 Ghosts (Either the old or new version)

For a more spiritually edifying suggestion for further study and devotion concerning the 9th Commandment have a look at the account of Naboth's Vineyard in 1st Kings Chapter 22.


Here's a list of 10 that ... Deal with the 10th Commandment 

Here's a list of 10 that ... Deal with the Devil 

Here's a list of 10 that ... Deal with the Angels 

Here's a list of 10 that ... Deal with the Gospel 

For current movie reviews of films in the theatre right now by Pastor Ted Giese check out,Where Christianity Meets Culture IssuesEtc!