Customer Review

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My guilty pleasure Christmas movie, 14 Sept. 2010
This review is from: The Bishop's Wife [DVD] [1947] (DVD)
I have a touch of Grinch in my genetic make-up and I believe that a Scrooge is listed in my family tree about six generations back. I tend to go Postal after repeated exposure to "It's a Wonderful Life" and to collapse from sugar shock about halfway through "Miracle on 34th Street." But this movie gets me every time. Show me just a single scene and I'm hooked. I drop into a chair and stare in dreamy-eyed, slack-jawed wonder.

The cast is a true Hollywood Golden Age ensemble from top stars to supporting players, from Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven to Elsa Lanchester, Gladys Cooper, Monty Woolley and James Gleason: wonderful, wonderful, all of them! Then there is the magnificent photography--professionalism entwined with art to a degree seldom if ever matched today. The story is a nice little mid-20th Century parable, not entirely pointless, not too sweet and, thankfully, not too strongly insisted upon.

Previous reviewers have pointed out many good things in "The Bishop's Wife." Among its many virtues, by no means the least are that Billy Wilder was included among its writers and that Frank Capra had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the film.

I feel obliged to draw attention here to two scenes that haven't been strongly emphasized in earlier Amazon reviews:

--Mid-way through, Cary Grant as Dudley the Angel and Loretta Young as the Bishop's wife visit the basement of a down-at-the-heels church to hear a children's choir rehearse. The kids are late. One arrives and he immediately starts to sing. The others arrive one by one (with a little help from Dudley), and each begins singing until at last the whole choir is assembled. That is the best children's choir that I have ever seen or heard (and, yes, I have seen the Vienna Boys Choir.) The whole sequence lasts only a few minutes but it's a brilliantly facetted gem.

--The other scene occurs duriing the extended sequence in which Grant and Young are picked up by cab driver James Gleason. For good and sufficient reason, the three of them end up skating on an ice rink, to the joy of participants and audience alike. At one point, the Angel Dudley pronounces a blessing on the cab driver and his descendents. The scene is at once off-hand and rigidly formal. The words of the blessing are straightforward but exalted. In our era in which curses and worse are the common currency of speech, how often do we hear a blessing that is truly moving?
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Nov 2014 12:10:48 GMT
Lazy Kipper says:
Loved your review - I think from your family tree, we might be cousins twice removed or something!

You've convinced me to get hold of this film - many thanks.
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Location: Vancouver, British Columbia Canada

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