The Bishop's Wife (1947)
December 11, 2015 7:46 PM - Subscribe

A bishop trying to get a new cathedral built prays for guidance. An angel arrives, but his guidance isn't about fundraising.
posted by the man of twists and turns (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen this movie a LOT of times. My dad has a regular Christmas rotation of movies and this is in it, so I've probably seen it most years in the past couple decades.

Honestly, all my thoughts about it are kind of clouded by how luminously, perfectly beautiful Loretta Young is in it? I think one of the first times I really got convinced I was not heterosexual was watching it. I find her so distracting I can barely remember the plot. Obviously even an angel wanted a piece of that action. I try to think about what happens in it and I basically picture Loretta Young's smile, Loretta Young's cheekbones, and Cary Grant playing the harp and doing that magic trick where he rearranges all the papers and that other magic trick where he instantly decorates the Christmas tree. So I guess the cheesy special effects really impressed me, huh. I like Grant in many other things but I think he's unbearably smarmy in much of this movie. I get that he's playing an angel and all that but I just find it hard to take. On the other hand, David Niven is pretty perfect as a workaholic man of the cloth. Rewatching little bits of it I'd also like to point out how totally weird it is that the boy who plays young George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life is also in this one, and about the same age, too.

I think probably the reason this movie holds up better than many Christmas movies is that it really doesn't end that happily. Most Christmas movies tie everything up too nicely at the end and everyone goes away smiling, and often there's a party and everyone sings a song together as the credits roll, but when the central conflict of a film is a love triangle someone's going to walk away sad no matter how Christmasy the movie is. This means it feels like it's got a bit more soul and depth than your standard holiday flick.

As a child I went to Orthodox church so the idea that you could be a bishop and also have a wife really threw me for a loop. I thought there had to be some kind of scandal implied.
posted by town of cats at 10:52 PM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm late in coming to this film - I've only seen it once, maybe two years ago - but I enjoyed it. Be sure to check out the IMDb Trivia page; apparently it got off to a bumpy start, and there was some uncredited writing help from a (to me) surprising source. Plus a classic Sam Goldwyn line.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:51 AM on December 12, 2015

I've seen this movie many times (it's also in frequent holiday rotation in my family's Chrostmas) and I only recently realized that Elsa Lanchester aka the Bride was in it. In granted the very small role as the maid.
posted by KernalM at 9:50 AM on December 12, 2015

The remake with Denzel Washington was cute.
posted by rikschell at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The movie is harmed by the fact that Grant comes off as a leering devil, sinister and insincere - everyone else is playing perfectly to type, not cliche , more like the kind of archetypes that period movies, and Christmas movies in general, excel at.
posted by The Whelk at 6:00 PM on December 13, 2015

(although Grant took the role cause he thought Christmas movies could be big business, he complained about EVERYTHING, from his role being too impish and high handed, to camera placing, to blocking, to ...well everything. That awkward scene with both of them in profile at the window was because both Loretta and Cary adamantly refused to be filmed from the left side)
posted by The Whelk at 6:16 PM on December 13, 2015

(also Niven wanted the role of Dudley and when told he was cast as the dour, humorless Bishop, dragged his feet through the whole production)
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on December 13, 2015

« Older Elementary: The Games Underfoo...   |  The Blacklist: Quon Zhang... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments