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Bad Apples #5 – The Bishop’s Wife – Podcast #186

Please note that the text below is an automated transcription. As a result, it may contain errors.

Steve 00:00:00

You know, when I was young, I used to love all the Christmas cartoons that they run on TV each year. You know, whether that be an annual visit from Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, or even The Grinch, I loved every single minute of them. But the strange thing is that I never saw any of the classic Christmas movies until I was an adult. I’m quite certain that I saw Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation long before I ever saw Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. Well, today my wife Mary Jane will be joining me to discuss the lesser-known 1947 Christmas movie The Bishop’s Wife. And it starred Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. So is this movie another classic like It’s a Wonderful Life, or could it actually be a dud? Well, in a few moments, we’ll let you know if The Bishop’s Wife is worthy of being ranked among the best Christmas movies of all time. I am Steve Silverman and this is the Useless Information Podcast.  So, Mary Jane, welcome back to the podcast.

Steve and Mary Jane at Snow Canyon State Park on March 28, 2022.
Steve and Mary Jane at Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins, Utah on March 28, 2022.

Mary Jane 00:01:08

Thank you.

Steve 00:01:09

The movie we’re about to talk about, The Bishop’s Wife, we watched over your Thanksgiving break.

Mary Jane 00:01:14

Yes, that’s right.

Steve 00:01:16

And I had suggested to you right before Thanksgiving that maybe to do something a little different that we should review a Christmas movie. And that’s why we chose this.

Mary Jane 00:01:24

Yes, that’s right.

Steve 00:01:26

And we watched actually four Christmas movies. One we decided to leave for next year. We actually liked it, but we’re not going to say what it was.

Mary Jane 00:01:35

Right. A comedy.

Steve 00:01:36

Right. And then there’s this one. In the end, there were two that we narrowed it down to. It’s this one and the other one that we’re going to leave. And I asked you to choose which one you wanted to do and you opted for The Bishop’s Wife.

Mary Jane 00:01:47

Yes. I mean, it definitely has a clear Christmas theme.

Steve 00:01:51

Right. Where the other movie wasn’t quite a Christmas movie. It just had a Christmas scene in it. So anyway, the movie is The Bishop’s Wife, and it’s loosely based on the 1928 novella by Robert Nathan. Now, I haven’t read the book, and I know you haven’t either, but supposedly it’s much different and much darker than this movie was. Now, as we’re going to find out in a few minutes, the angel in this movie is named Dudley. But in the book, it’s named Michael. And honestly, I like the name Michael better. But I think because this movie is kind of a comedy, Dudley just seemed more appropriate.

Mary Jane 00:02:26

Right. It’s a very light-hearted movie. Yes.

Steve 00:02:30

And it’s black and white. It runs an hour and 49 minutes. It’s directed by Henry Koster. Now, interestingly, William Seiter was the original director on the project, but after producer Samuel Goldwyn saw the preliminary shots of it, he just didn’t like how it was coming out. So he ordered a new director, actually kind of recast the movie, rewrote it and they refilmed it. And it was at an incredible expense to them at the time. It premiered on December 9, 1947, in New York City. And then it went into full release on February 16, 1948, which I found kind of interesting. It went into full release in February. For a Christmas movie, it seems a little odd, doesn’t it?

Mary Jane 00:03:07

Yeah, it seems like poor timing.

Steve 00:03:08

Right. Now, the title The Bishop’s Wife implies that it was a religious movie. At least that was the perception by a lot of people. So in some markets where they thought that was hindering ticket sales, and since Cary Grant was in this movie, it was marketed as Cary and the Bishop’s Wife. And in those areas, they noticed that the box office receipts actually went up.

Cary and the The Bishop's Wife movie poster.
Cary and the The Bishop’s Wife movie poster.

Mary Jane 00:03:30

Yeah, that would make sense.

Steve 00:03:32

The movie was remade in 1996 as The Preacher’s Wife and it starred Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. Now, interestingly, I do remember when that movie came out, you know, and having been raised in a Jewish household, I remember when I first saw the name The Preacher’s Wife, I just kind of assumed it was a religious movie. So I can understand why that happened in the 1940s when The Bishop’s Wife was released.

Mary Jane 00:03:53

Right. Yeah. In fact, it’s a romantic comedy.

Steve 00:03:56

Right. And if anybody wants to watch this, it is for free on the Roku Channel. Although it does have commercials in it. I believe all the other streaming services have it, you know. But you do have to pay for it, like Amazon and so on. And, of course, you can get it through your public library. The movie stars David Niven as Bishop Henry Brougham. His wife is played by Loretta Young. His wife’s name is Julia. Cary Grant plays Dudley, the angel. And you wouldn’t think he’d ever be a good angel, but he actually pulls it off.

Mary Jane 00:04:24

Yes, he does a good job.

Steve 00:04:26

Mary Jane, why don’t you tell about the three minor characters in this movie?

Mary Jane 00:04:30

Sure. There’s Monty Woolley as Professor Wutheridge. There’s Gladys Cooper as the rich parishioner, Agnes Hamilton, and James Gleason as Sylvester, the taxi driver.

Steve 00:04:44

Now, this movie was nominated for five Academy Awards in 1948 and this would have been for movies in 1947. So it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Score, and Best sound. It only won one award. That was for Best Sound. Well, that year, the best movie and director went to Eliah Kazan for Gentleman’s Agreement. Oddly, Miracle on 34th Street was also nominated for Best Picture. That year, there were only five movies, and two of them were Christmas.

Mary Jane 00:05:11

Right.

Steve 00:05:12

And interestingly, Loretta Young, who plays the wife in this movie, she didn’t win or wasn’t even nominated for this role, but she did win Best Actress that year for The Farmer’s Daughter. In this movie, you have a bishop. He’s played by David Niven. And he’s very focused on his career and he’s mostly focused, at least when the movie starts, on having a cathedral built and he’s trying to get money from a rich woman who’s played by Gladys Cooper. He’s trying to get money from her to get this cathedral built. And as a result, he’s basically ignoring his wife and his child. And clearly, the wife is not happy. The spark is just gone from their relationship. And the bishop, because he’s so desirous to get the money to get this cathedral built, he prays for divine intervention. And, of course, that’s when the angel appears. And the angel is not what you’d expect an angel to be. There’s no wings and he doesn’t glow or anything. His name is Dudley, and he’s played by Cary Grant. Well dressed and real.

Mary Jane 00:06:10

Very charming.

Steve 00:06:11

Very charming.

Mary Jane 00:06:12

Charming.

Steve 00:06:13

Right. And he, of course, is sent down to help him out. And, of course, the bishop thinks he’s there to help about the cathedral. But in reality, and you know this from the beginning, Dudley is there to restore their relationship.

Mary Jane 00:06:28

Yes, but actually, by almost stealing his wife.

Steve 00:06:31

Right. We’ll get into that in a bit. Anyway, Dudley charms everyone, and we mean everyone. Every woman who looks at him does what?

Mary Jane 00:06:40

Oh, they swoon. They giggle.

Steve 00:06:44

Anyway. Everyone just loves Dudley. And that includes the bishop’s wife. And, of course, that kind of sets up what’s going on here. Dudley begins to entertain the wife and it looks like they’re about to have a budding relationship. And the bishop becomes very jealous over this. So why don’t we talk a little bit about the three main characters in the movie? Let’s start with David Niven, who plays the bishop. How would you describe him?

Mary Jane 00:07:10

He’s very uptight. He doesn’t know how to have fun. I mean, there’s one example when he comes into the kitchen and the servants are preparing the meal and one of the servants hides the fact that she’s baked a cake because he doesn’t think they should eat cake. It’s too special on an average day.

Steve 00:07:28

Yeah, uptight is a good way to describe him. He hardly ever smiles through the whole movie, and it’s what you’d expect. He’s so focused on getting this cathedral built that he’s ignoring everything else. And he really doesn’t want anyone else to have fun. If he’s not having fun, nobody else should either. Now, that introduces the second character, which is the wife, Julia, who’s played by Loretta Young. Now, what did you think about her?

Mary Jane 00:07:50

I thought she did a great job because in the movie, as we kind of said, there’s this relationship building between her and Cary Grant or Dudley. And she just acts like she’s having fun and she doesn’t realize that where it’s going, in a way and that she’s doing everything that’s all above board, so to speak.

Steve 00:08:09

Right. Now, I said this to you after we watched the movie. Right at the end, I said, I really thought she made the movie. I thought she was just an incredible actress. Great expression on her face. She used her eyes. Originally, Teresa Wright, who we’ve seen in other movies, she was originally cast into this role, but she got pregnant and had to drop out. I can’t imagine this movie having been a success if Teresa Wright had played the wife. I think Loretta Young was perfect for this role.

Mary Jane 00:08:38

I totally agree. I mean, I think the camera loves her, for one thing. She’s gorgeous, but she was very convincing in the role also.

Steve 00:08:47

Yeah. And the one thing you commented to me at the end is you thought maybe she may have been a smoker because she was so incredibly thin.

Mary Jane 00:08:54

It is frightening to see how her silhouette she’s incredibly slim.

Steve 00:08:59

And I did read afterwards that she was a lifelong smoker. So that could be the reason why she was so thin. I mean, there are some people who are naturally thin like that. But she was just extremely thin.

Mary Jane 00:09:11

Yes, she was pencil thin. Shockingly thin, actually.

Loretta Young in a 1948 Chesterfield cigarette ad.
Loretta Young in a 1948 Chesterfield cigarette ad. (Flickr image.)

Steve 00:09:15

Right. Okay. And the third character is Dudley, who’s played by Cary Grant. Now, what did you think about him?

Mary Jane 00:09:23

He got the best role. It was the lead. I would say he’s the main character. I think he did a great job with it. He kind of walked that thin line between doing his job as an angel and almost committing infidelity, if an angel can do that.

Steve 00:09:40

Now, of course, I was familiar with David Niven and everyone’s familiar with Cary Grant.

Mary Jane 00:09:46

Yes.

Steve 00:09:46

There wasn’t a moment in this movie that I didn’t forget I was watching David Niven and not for a second did I not realize, it was in my head the whole time that’s Cary Grant. Cary Grant, even though he’s in a comedic role, it was still Cary Grant.

Mary Jane 00:10:01

He actually played a lot of comedic roles. So, yes. That he looked like who he was.

Steve 00:10:08

Now, just a year before this, another classic Christmas movie came out that was It’s a Wonderful Life, which starred, of course, Jimmy Stewart. And I have to say, there’s no comparison between these two movies. It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s just so much better.

It's a Wonderful Life Movie Poster
It’s a Wonderful Life Movie Poster.

Mary Jane 00:10:23

It’s a different caliber.

Steve 00:10:24

It’s a different caliber of movie. I mean, you know, when you watch It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a classic, classic movie. I wouldn’t say that’s the case about this movie. Now, I wasn’t really thinking that as we were watching the movie. But after we were done, you said, why don’t we go back and watch It’s a Wonderful Life? Well, we’ll talk about a little bit about my opinion of this movie afterward.

Mary Jane 00:10:45

Sure.

Steve 00:10:46

Why don’t you talk a little bit about It’s a Wonderful Life?

Mary Jane 00:10:49

So the reason I thought we should watch both was because they do have some of the same themes. You’ve got a man very distraught and an angel who comes down to help him kind of change his perspective on life. They’re both distraught over money. You have George Bailey, who’s misplaced the $8,000, and, of course, the Bishop, who needs to raise money to build this cathedral. And they both have this interest in buildings. Actually, when George Bailey is very young, he talks about he’s going to build skyscrapers and he’s going to do all these great things. And so you have that similarity also. They also don’t seem to appreciate their home life, their wives, their children. So you do have a similarity there, but it pretty much stops there. The style of the movies, I mean, I feel It’s a Wonderful Life is not a light comedy by any means.

Steve 00:11:46

And it’s very dark. I mean, the guy is basically moving closer and closer to suicide in the movie.

Mary Jane 00:11:51

Right. It’s truly quite a serious movie for quite a bit of the throughout the movie, actually. Whereas The Bishop’s Wife is very lighthearted and there’s a lot of comedy in it. So the comparisons really change when it comes to the angels. You have Clarence of It’s a Wonderful Life, who’s this older bumbling angel who hasn’t managed to get his wings for 293 years. And then you have Cary Grant, who plays Dudley, who basically the minute he walks in the room, he charms everybody. So he’s a complete opposite in that sense. And in fact, Clarence doesn’t really have a very big part in the movie. He’s probably in the last quarter of the movie.

Steve 00:12:40

I’m not even sure that much.

Mary Jane 00:12:41

Yeah, he has a small part. It’s important. And he’s a great actor, but it’s not at all like the angel in The Bishop’s Wife just because he plays the main role.

Steve 00:12:52

One thing you noticed is there were some characters that were the same in both movies. It just went by me because I hadn’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life in so many years, I didn’t recognize it. The first one is the daughter in both movies is the same person. It’s Karolyn Grimes. She plays the daughter Debby in The Bishop’s Wife. And of course, she’s Zuzu Bailey.

Mary Jane 00:13:12

In It’s a Wonderful Life.

Steve 00:13:14

Right. And she has that famous line:

Zuzu Bailey (Karolyn Grimes) 00:13:17

“Look daddy! Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Steve 00:13:24

And then I didn’t notice this either. There’s a snowball fight and there’s a boy who’s kind of the head of the leader, the leader of the pack. That’s the same boy who played George Bailey as a young boy in his A Wonderful Life. And I looked it up and his name is Bobby Anderson. And then there’s one neither of us saw. I just happened to notice this when I was doing some research, and that is the church organist in The Bishop’s Wife, that’s Mrs. Duffy, she’s played by Sarah Edwards. She also plays Mrs. Hatch, that’s Mary’s mom, who owns the boarding house in It’s a Wonderful Life. So there are three people in these two classic movies that came out about Christmas within one year of each other.

Mary Jane 00:14:04

Yes. It makes you think there was a very limited amount, especially of child actors.

Steve 00:14:10

Yeah, I read, actually, that Carolyn Grimes wasn’t originally the daughter. But then, I guess because they went and refilmed it and there’s a lot of delays and stuff, you know, she was pulled in to do it.

Mary Jane 00:14:21

Yeah, she was actually very good in both movies. I thought she did a great job for a child.

Steve 00:14:28

Right. Now Mary Jane, when the movie was over, we both briefly talked about what we thought about the movie. And right after that, I wrote down a few words. These are just words. I wrote down it was entertaining, it was harmless, it was kind, a very kind movie, humorous, very light-hearted. But I also wrote down that the movie dragged at times.

Mary Jane 00:14:50

Yes. I mean, I would say at one point I was just thinking, this is seeming a bit long. And it’s never a good sign when you think a movie is long or too long.

Steve 00:14:59

Whereas watching It’s a Wonderful Life, which I hadn’t seen for all those years, not for a second did I feel like it was dragging. I felt like the story was moving along. I know there are others who have criticized it for needing some editing, but I actually was sucked right in, taken right along the whole way.

Mary Jane 00:15:17

I think it’s a very well-told story, and I don’t think that’s entirely the case with the Bishop’s Wife. So, yes, a movie can be actually much longer and you don’t even feel it if the story is well told.

Steve 00:15:34

And you had mentioned this to me that the movie checks all the boxes.

Mary Jane 00:15:37

I think they were trying to do that. They had a boy’s choir playing. What else? They had a lot of special effects for the miracles in The Bishop’s Wife, and it seemed almost like they were trying to achieve something because the story wasn’t good enough, that they needed those to kind of prop it up a bit.

The Bishop's Wife movie poster.
The Bishop’s Wife movie poster.

Steve 00:15:59

And after you said that to me, of course we went back, we watched his movie over Thanksgiving, and we watched it again because we kind of, over a period of two weeks, kind of forgot what was in the movie. And I just wrote down some of these things that seemed to check off the boxes, as you said. Clearly, you have the religious message. You have lots and lots of miracles. In fact, I noticed the second time we were watching, you were writing down every single one. There was so many in this movie. Of course, there’s a love story there. You have the boys’ choirs, you mentioned, singing. There was the skating scene. Of course, they throw in humor.

Mary Jane 00:16:33

Which we should talk about later on the skating scene.

Steve 00:16:36

Sure. And just too many miracles. And I have nothing wrong with miracles, and I’ve seen many Christmas movies, but some that are far more religious than this movie. But I don’t know, it just seemed like there was one around every single corner. It kind of detracts from the movie.

Mary Jane 00:16:36

Yes, I agree.

Steve 00:16:36

And a lot of them weren’t even just miracles, they were special effects. I mean, there’s this one scene where he has to file all these index cards and put them in alphabetical order. And with the magic of cinema, they all of a  sudden are flying through the air and they just file themselves. And then, of course, you have the decoration of the Christmas tree. He just kind of waves his arms and the tree becomes decorated. Probably just a minor trick is where the glass of sherry for the professor just keeps filling it. Right. The one that did impress me was the typewriter where he’s basically dictating. This is the angel, Cary Grant, he’s dictating and the typewriter is pressing the keys down. And, of course, the characters are appearing on the piece of paper. That one I was like, wow, how did they do that?

Mary Jane 00:17:43

How did they do it?

Steve 00:17:44

I mean, today with computers, you could easily do it. But that had to be quite the feat in the day. Now, I did mention that I thought this movie dragged. And there were two scenes in particular that I thought really slowed the story down. It’s not that the scenes were bad. In fact, I enjoyed both the scenes. They were both very well done. But the story is moving along and then they throw in several minutes of something that didn’t quite keep the action going, keep the story going. The first one was the choir scene. Cary Grant goes into this church and the choir there’s just, like, two boys sitting there. And then he just starts moving his hands and the next person.

Mary Jane 00:17:44

And more boys arrive.

Steve 00:18:27

And they were wonderful performers, but it was, what, three and a half, four minutes? I don’t know how long the scene was and just kind of brought the story. It slowed it down. And the other one, which was incredibly done, is the skating scene. You want to mention a little bit about that?

Mary Jane 00:18:43

Well, sure. We know from having really analyzed it that it wasn’t always the actors doing the skating. But I thought they did a wonderful job of hiding that with the shadows and the faces. And, of course, the skating is beautiful, but, of course, they start out not knowing how to skate well. And one of the other miracles, thanks to Dudley, is that then they become great skaters. It’s just a beautiful scene, and it was well done. If you really analyze, you can tell that it’s not Cary Grant doing some of those jumps and turns. But it was quite nice, I thought.

Steve 00:19:21

Yeah. The guy that they got and I looked this up, it was Eugene Turner. He was an American champion figure skater.

Mary Jane 00:19:26

Right.

Steve 00:19:26

He was standing in for some of those more extravagant skating moves. He’s a lot shorter than Cary Grant, as it’s very obvious when watching on the screen.

Mary Jane 00:19:35

Yeah. There were times you could tell.

Steve 00:19:36

Although I did read that Cary Grant was a fairly decent skater and he wanted to do it all, but they wouldn’t let him.

Mary Jane 00:19:43

Yeah, I mean, you kind of saw that in the beginning when he actually gets on the ice. I’m like, oh, that’s him. And he seems pretty confident.

Steve 00:19:53

As you said, the lighting was incredible. Even as they’d come around in front of the camera, the way they had it lighted, you never saw their faces of the people who are standing in for them. And honestly, if you just took that scene out and watched it, you would go wow. Particularly at the part where the three of them are kind of skating in unison.

Mary Jane 00:19:53

Yes.

Steve 00:19:53

But again, I felt it slowed the movie down.

Mary Jane 00:20:18

I would have maybe kept that. But the problem I had actually with the movie is it seemed scattered in what it was trying to accomplish and the story it was trying to tell. You actually had the angel changing the lives of three people. I mean, there were two other people whose lives he changed. You had a professor who was an atheist and at the end he had been converted to a churchgoer. And then you had the rich parishioner who had a kind of, as she said, a religious experience. And she changed from being very controlling of her money to being generous. And it just there was so much they were trying to seem to accomplish in the movie, trying to kind of throw too much in it for the story, I thought.

Steve 00:21:03

So I went back and pulled out some of the old newspaper reviews on this movie and I also found some on Itss a Wonderful Life. So why don’t we read some of those?

Mary Jane 00:21:13

Sure.

Steve 00:21:14

And this first article I chose is from the December 26, 1947 publication of The Los Angeles Times. And it’s written by Philip K. Scheuer. And I chose this because it has a couple of paragraphs about how you can’t forget that it’s Cary Grant. Here we go. “I can understand why he was chosen for the part. He is a good actor, one of the most ingratiating, and he is entirely a regular guy. The idea was, as one of us, he would be more readily believable than if he appeared in a burst of light as a bearded avenging angel. Nevertheless, he is Grant as much to the other players as to the audience, and it is sometimes hard to remember where he is supposed to come from. You will just have to reconcile the two images in your mind as best you can, allowing for the man’s imperfections, if not for the heavenly messengers. Happily, Grant makes that easy to do most of the time.” OK, Mary Jane, why don’t you read the next one?

Mary Jane 00:22:12

So this is from December 26, 1947. The Los Angeles Daily News. “In the hands of Cary Grant, Dudley epitomizes the spirit of goodwill toward men. There is nothing stuffy about his goodness, nor is there any naivete. He makes Dudley a charming, gracious, and rather worldly angel, a fellow who winds up his mission on earth just in time to sidestep the temptations of mortality.”

Steve 00:22:40

Okay, my turn. This next one is also from December 26, 1947, and appeared in the Boston Globe and was penned by Marjorie Adams. “Samuel Goldwin has turned Santa Claus and is offering Boston its best Christmas gift of the holiday season at the Aster Theatre in the form of a charming, fantastic, delightful and heartwarming film, The Bishop’s Wife.” She goes on to say: “Don’t miss The Bishop’s Wife. It’s better than a dozen mugs of eggnog for lifting the spirits and driving away high-cost-of-living blues. The film has been handled with a light touch and no attempt has been made to cram the moral down the collective throat of an audience. But you do feel glad and gay when you leave the theater after spending more than two hours with the enchanting and angelic Dudley. As an angel, Cary Grant is perfect, and undoubtedly a million girls want him for their Christmas trees.” So those three reviews on The Bishop’s Wife. But I also found three on It’s a Wonderful Life. And what I’ve read just in general over the years about It’s a Wonderful Life is that people hated this movie when it came out. So I was curious to see if that was really the case. So let’s see what they had to say. This is from the December 21, 1946 publication of the New York Daily News, and it was penned by Kate Cameron. And I’ll just jump down to the key parts. “The film is too sprawling in extent, too noisy as to background music and voices, and much too obvious in the application of its social significance notes.  But while it isn’t the best picture to come out of Hollywood this year, nor is it Capra’s masterpiece, it tells a good story and its conclusion has a heartwarming effect on the audience.” And then we’ll jump to the last paragraph. “The picture would have been greatly improved by some judicious editing. It runs too long for its own good.” So Mary Jane, why don’t you take the next one?

Mary Jane 00:24:40

This is from December 22, 1946, in the Star Tribune, written by Bob Murphy. “A motion picture projectionist is a hard-boiled character as far as motion pictures are concerned. He sees many movies and may see each one often; and his verdict concerning a number which you happen to like may be strictly thumbs down. But when the operator walked out of the booth after showing It’s a Wonderful Life and said that’s what the motion picture art was invented for, he could find no dissenters among the onlookers, including this one. It’s a Wonderful Life will be looked back on in years to come in my mind as one of the classics of filmdom.”

Steve 00:25:24

I picked this one out simply because here’s a guy in 1946 predicting that this movie will someday be a classic. And here we are in 2022. And what is the movie?

Mary Jane 00:25:34

It’s a classic, for sure. Yeah.

Steve 00:25:37

Yeah. What a great prediction.

Mary Jane 00:25:38

An amazing prediction.

Steve 00:25:40

Yeah. So anyway, why don’t you read the final paragraph of this?

Mary Jane 00:25:44

Sure. “It’s a Wonderful Life is mellow, optimistic, laconically philosophical, richly conceived and expertly executed – in fact, a wonderful picture. It has been a long time since anything hit me like this job.”

Steve 00:26:03

I guess probably the movie had mixed reviews at the time. The first one I read was a little bit on the negative side, and this one is, like, over the top in terms of how great it is.

Mary Jane 00:26:13

Yeah. But I think he’s right. It really is a great movie. And he seemed to know that at the time. I think also that for some people, the movie was a little too close to home. I mean, there were many men that had just gotten out of the war that were depressed and possibly suicidal. So I don’t know if that many people wanted to see a movie like that at the time. Whereas now it’s quaint. And so it doesn’t hit us in the same way. I think it hit people really in a different way back then.

Steve 00:26:44

That’s a good observation.

Mary Jane 00:26:46

Yeah.

Steve 00:26:48

And I’ll read one more review, and this is from the December 26, 1946 publication of the Los Angeles Daily News. This one’s actually written by Virginia Wright, who wrote the same review that you just read on The Bishop’s Wife. And she was far more positive about The Bishop’s Wife than she was It’s a Wonderful Life, and I’ll just read you a little bit of it. “The moral of the piece is that if you have friends, you’re rich. And to prove it, all the townspeople crowd into the young man’s home to leave contributions. Even the bank examiner adds his bit. How impressed you are by all this probably will depend on your reaction to Christmas card mottos. While the film as a whole lacks unity and some of the scenes are exaggerated beyond reason, there are touches by Capra and certain performances which warrant your attention. James Stewart has moments of great charm and touching appeal as the harassed young man, but he also overplays the scene of his furious frustration. Much quieter but thoroughly delightful is Donna Reed as the girl he finally marries, and Henry Travers gives the whole thing a great lift when he comes on as the guardian angel.” So now we come to that magic time. We need to rate the movie, and since we’re both teachers and we’re calling this Bad Apples. We rate it out of 100 points. Right?

Mary Jane 00:28:08

Sure.

Steve 00:28:08

So do you want to go first or should I go first?

Mary Jane 00:28:10

Why don’t you go first?

Steve 00:28:12

Okay. Well, comparing it with the other movies we’ve seen, I think this is the weakest of them, but it’s not a bad movie. It’s an entertaining movie. So I think I’m just going to give it a solid 80. I think that’s pretty much what I’d give it: B.

Mary Jane 00:28:25

Okay, I would give it an 85.

Steve 00:28:30

I want to be in your class.

Mary Jane 00:28:34

I think it’s still enjoyable, and it has all the things that you love in a fairly well-done 1940s movie. You’ve got the beautiful clothes, you’ve got the interesting furniture. It still takes you back to a time, and it’s still a fun movie.

Steve 00:28:54

One thing I want to add to your comment there is the sets themselves. I never really felt for a moment that it was truly a set. Some of the other movies we’ve watched, you can tell it’s filmed on a stage. This one had a little bit more of a homey feel to it. A little bit more realistic. In fact, the one thing that really stood out to me was the snow. It really seemed very realistic to me, considering, you know, it’s probably filmed in California and it’s not real.

Mary Jane 00:29:20

Right. I mean, there’s also a lot of snow. That just makes me think of It’s a Wonderful Life. They also had to produce that snow.

Steve 00:29:27

Right. I think actually for It’s a Wonderful Life, that’s the only Academy Award they won was for something like special effects about snow, something like that. I could be wrong on that, but I seem to recall reading that somewhere. So, anyway, we’re fairly close in our ratings. Now, would you recommend that someone watch this movie?

Mary Jane 00:29:47

I always say, if you like old movies, yes. This was a fun, good movie that yes, you should watch. And you should watch with friends, maybe. I really think it’s something nice to discuss with people. Older movies.

Steve 00:30:02

Yeah, I think it’s a good movie. I’ve seen some really not just bad Christmas movies, but bad movies overall. This is not a bad movie, but it’s not It’s a Wonderful Life. You can’t watch this and expect that, but if you want a light-hearted, entertaining movie, it’s perfect, honestly, for Christmas.

Mary Jane 00:30:20

Yeah. It started to have that romantic ending, and then it’s for you to have a second ending. I wish that it stopped right there at the romantic ending.

Steve 00:30:29

Oddly, I had the same exact feeling at the end of the movie that they should have stopped it, you know, right when their marriage kind of worked out, and then they kind of tacked on that sermon at the end.

Mary Jane 00:30:39

Yes.

Steve 00:30:40

And the sermon actually was beautiful, but I wish they had ended the movie just before that.

Mary Jane 00:30:47

Well, they almost looked like two endings, right? Exactly. That’s never good, I don’t think.

Steve 00:30:51

It’s not as bad as some movies where they have three or four or five endings.

Mary Jane 00:30:55

Oh, my gosh. Some have many.

Steve 00:30:57

This one just seemed to have two endings to it. Let’s listen to that.

Mary Jane 00:31:01

Sure.

Bishop Brougham (David Niven) 00:31:10

“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable. And wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees. With the sound of bells. And with gifts. But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer. And Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled. All, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most. And then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts, and the stretched-out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”

Steve 00:32:51

Okay. So I guess that’s our review of The Bishop’s Wife. We both liked the movie. I wouldn’t say we both thought it was the greatest movie ever made, but if you have a chance to see it, you really should.

Mary Jane 00:33:01

Yes, it’s worth seeing.

Steve 00:33:03

So I guess we should say goodbye and wish everyone a happy holiday. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Kwanza. Whatever you celebrate. And enjoy the new year.

Mary Jane 00:33:03

Yep. Bye-bye.

Steve 00:33:03

Bye.

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