Friday, December 21, 2018

Movie Review: "The Bishop's Wife" (1947)

Director: Henry Koster
Year: 1947
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes

An angel comes to earth to offer guidance to a bishop and his wife who have been praying for help. Though it may not be the guidance they want, it is the guidance they need.

The Bishop's Wife 1947 movie still David Niven Cary Grant Loretta Young
"Surely you of all people should know that angels don't need passports." (Image Source)
The job of any parent is to offer guidance to their child and to give them what they need, which is not always necessarily what they want. Sometimes, adults need that same guidance but are very reluctant to receive it when it is offered. "The Bishop's Wife" is directed by Henry Koster, who has directed such films as "Harvey," "Flower Drum Song," and "Three Smart Girls." The screenplay is written by Robert E. Sherwood and Leonard Bercovici and is based on the novel by Robert Nathan. The story centers on Henry Brougham (David Niven), a bishop who is working on financing a new cathedral. The stress of trying to wrangle donations has been causing him to neglect other parts of his life, including his wife Julia (Loretta Young) and their daughter Debby (Karolyn Grimes). Henry and Julia have been praying for help, and aid is about to come their way in the form of a charming angel in human form named Dudley (Cary Grant). However, Henry is reluctant to believe Dudley when he tells him he is an angel and is also hesitant to receive the help he is offered. No matter how hard he resists, Dudley will make sure Henry and Julia get the very aid they need, even if it isn't the type of help they expected.
The Bishop's Wife 1947 movie still David Niven
"You're a bishop. You above all people should trust the word of an angel." (Image Source)
This isn't the first time we've seen "The Bishop's Wife." BigJ and I both saw it at some point in our youth. This is the first time we've sat down to view it as adults, and now, after many years, we have a new-found love and appreciation for it. We were filled with a genuine sense of joy and wonder while watching this film. We think it encapsulates and captures the spirit of the holiday season perfectly. Cary Grant is endlessly charming as an actor and can endear himself to anyone with little more than a smile and a quick word. David Niven is also excellent and really sells his part since he can be likable, witty, cynical, and stuffy all at once. The two men were initially cast in each other's roles, and we're sure glad that director Henry Koster saw they were miscast and placed them in the roles we know today. Frankly, we don't think the film would have worked quite as well if Niven had played Dudley and if Grant had played Henry. Finally, Loretta Young is wonderful as Julia and becomes quite the driving force of this story. She had tremendous chemistry with both Grant and Niven, and we love each of their on-screen dynamics.
The Bishop's Wife 1947 movie still Cary Grant Loretta Young
"Sometimes angels rush in where fools fear to tread." (Image Source)
Some older Christmas movies don't age well at all (we're looking at you, "Holiday Inn"), but we feel like "The Bishop's Wife" has been able to stand the test of time. This is a holiday classic that should make its way into everyone's Christmas movie watching rotation. It has a terrific story that never gets old. It will make you laugh, it'll make you appreciate what's good about life, and it may even make you cry from how tender, charming, and joyous it is. If you think it will be overly religious because of its title, it's really not, so don't worry about it getting too preachy. Just give it a chance to warm the cockles of your heart like it did ours.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.6/10
RT Rating: 83%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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