L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 10/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review refers to the MGM(2001) DVD edition of "The Bishop's Wife"(1947)......
No Classic Holiday collection should be without this joyous tale. It stars a devine Cary Grant,a lovely Loretta Young, and a "doubting" David Niven.
As Christmas approaches, Bishop Henry Broughm is feeling the pressure of raising money to build a Cathedral. The money is out there, a wealthy woman has volunteered to contribute what's needed to complete the task. But...there's a catch....it must be done her way..and Henry must decide whether to accept and put his principles aside or decline and have no Cathedral. He is so preoccupied with this problem that Julia, his wife feels she is losing him. Henry prays for guidance...and it arrives..in the form of one dapper angel..."Dudley".
Dudley has got his work cut out for him with this asignment. Henry is a tough case. But along the way of trying to enlighten the Bishop of the joys of life(not to mention all the hungry people the money could feed),Dudley, played by Cary Grant touches the lives of all those around him.Most of the women are simply in awe of his prescence(I would be too!),an aging history scholar(played impeccably by Monty Woolley)finds a renewed zest for life and even a cynical cab driver is reformed by the mere prescence of Dudley. But can Dudley get through to Henry in time to restore his wonderful marriage to Julia?....Can even an Angel resist the charms of Loretta Young? You'll be smiling all the way through this touching, classic Christmas story finding out.
The supporting cast are legends in their own rights...As I mentioned Monty Woolley get touched by this angel as does James Gleason, Gladys Cooper and Elsa Lanchester.It is directed by Henry Coster.
The DVD, although not as prsiteen as some other films of this era("Casablana", "It's A Wonderful Life"),presented a nice picture of this 56 year old film. I thought the Black and White images were sharp and clear. Not quite as bright as the others, but an enjoyable view none the less. The sound does need to be turned up quite a bit more than usual, but the dialouge always distinguishable and the beautiful music added greatly to the story. The DVD gives the choice of "Chace Stereo" or the original mono.I viewed it in the 'Chace', and my DVD decoded it in Digital 1.0).There is an origianl theatrical trailer which is actually fun to watch. And..if you think the film transfer is not the greatest, compare it to this trailer....what a difference.It may be viewed in French and Spanish,and also has subtitles in those languages as well...but no subtitles or captions in English for those that might need them..this classic should be made for all to enjoy! For this reason alone, I am going with 4 stars(instead of 5) for the package.
A Classic Christmas story that's great to watch anytime of the year!......enjoy....Laurie
Christmas Collector's Pack (The Bells of St. Mary's / It's a Wonderful Life)
A Christmas Carol(wonderful audio book on CD)"
A Gentle Classic
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 10/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This genlte film, based on Robert Nathan's fine story, has the warmth of a cup of hot cider by the fireplace during a cold December day. There is something quiet and magical about it, like the hush of the world when it snows. Cary Grant and Loretta Young are a joy to watch together, their easy chemistry as welcome as popcorn balls and candy canes.
Directed by Henry Koster, with some nice photography from Gregg Toland, the screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood and Leonardo Bercovici captures perfectly the sentimental fantasy feel of all Robert Nathan's fine work. Cary Grant convinced producer Samuel Goldwyn to let him portray the role of Dudley rather than the bishop, and after seeing this film, it would be difficult to imagine it any other way.
Cary Grant always made everything look easy, but just how much work went into that illusion is exemplified by this film. Before shooting began, Grant could not ice skate, play the harp, or speak any French. By the time "The Bishop's Wife" was finished shooting, he could do all three. It was truly an accomplishment of heavenly preportions. The film itself was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture, and received another nomination for Best Director.
Henry Brogham (David Niven) is a newly appointed Episcopalian bishop trying to secure funds for a big cathedral he wants to build. He is selling out little by little to the demands of Mrs. Hamilton (Gladys Cooper), who helped get him his appointment and has the money he needs to make his dream come true. But he has forgotten about his wife's happiness in his quest to build the massive church, and when he prays for direction from God, he gets more than he bargained for.
Cary Grant is the Angel, Dudley, who's been sent to help out. Cars stop for him and he knows the name of everyone he meets before they tell him. Dudley is quiet and charming, and very handsome. He has an easy way about him that makes everyone happy. Henry's maid, Matilda (Elsa Lanchester), is taken with him and he has a gentle effect on everyone he comes in contact with. Henry is not as ecstatic about Dudley, however, since one of those people is his neglected wife, Julia (Loretta Young).
Young looks beautiful framed by Gregg Toland's soft focus photography, and is marvelous as the sweet woman who misses the time Henry spent with she and their daughter, Debby (Karolyn Grimes), before he obtained his appointment. Dudley and Julia begin to enjoy the small and wonderful things a couple in love should share together, while Henry continues to fret over the cathedral. Henry has forgotten that he prayed for guidance, not a big church.
It is snowing all through this film, and there are many sweet moments between Dudley and Julia. Just the simple pleasure of a walk down the street and having lunch at a familiar place are given back to Julia, as she is made to feel appreciated again. She finally splurges and buys the hat she's been staring at through the shop window for weeks. It is a moment of self-worth, restored by Dudley's attention. There is a magical ice-skating scene as Dudley makes it possible for Julia to glide like an old hand over the ice.
There is humor as well, Dudley making Debby's snowballs hit their mark. He also gives Sylvester (James Gleason), the cab driver, the ability to skate. Dudley explains to Julia that the only people who grow old are those who are born old, but if you are born young, you will stay that way. Dudley and Julia restore Sylvester's faith in people.
Dudley's gentle effect on people, however, is not limited to Julia. His visit to Mrs. Hamilton will reveal a secret love from her past and change her plans for Henry's cathedral. His visit with Julia's friend, Professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley), will inspire him to write his book and understand what he could not before. And all the time he is spending with Julia and Debby may make Henry angry enough to realize what is really important, if it is not too late.
There is a tender charm to this heartwarming classic. You will find yourself smiling a lot while watching it. Some nice music by Hugo Friedhofer and the Mitchell Boychoir add to a very special atmosphere. "The Bishop's Wife" is a reminder that it is people that matter, not a building, and the charity we give, should always begin at home, with those we love. It is a wonderful message we can heed all year long."
A Christmas Present
Vannie Ryanes | South Orange, New Jersey United States | 08/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Bishop's Wife. This beautifully directed 1940's black and white Christmas movie is charming and heartwarming. Church Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) wants to build a new and bigger church in the worst way. He is even willing to kowtow to rich demanding congregation members to get funding. Loretta Young as his lovely and somewhat neglected wife Julia, understands how badly her husband wants his new church but she doesn't want him to forget why he became a Bishop and to remember where his real duties lie. In desperation Henry prays for help and guidance. Help comes to him in form of a handsome, debonair and somewhat irreverent angel named Dudley, played superbly by Cary Grant. Grant arrives and immediately steals the heart of Henry's young daughter as well as the hearts of his secretary, maid and wife. When Henry cancels an appointment to hear young members in his congregation sing, Dudley goes instead. Dudley also encourages Julia to buy a rakish hat she admires, he takes her dining and dancing and wins over the disapproving church members who see them together. It seems that angel Dudley can do no wrong, everyone loves him, except Henry who starts to wonder if Dudley really is an angel and what is his real purpose here. David Niven as the somewhat uptight Bishop was the right choice for this role.There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie. Dudley magically types letters and stuffs envelopes so Henry's secretary can leave the office early to do Christmas shopping; he decorates the tree that the fluttering maid (a very young Elsa Lanchester) has just started to trim; and he has taxi driver, James Gleason, ice skating like an Olympic champion. When the boys won't let Julia's daughter play catch because she throws like a girl, Dudley steps in to give her a good pitching arm. Monty Woolley as the Professor who suspects that Dudley is a VERY special person is simply wonderful. This is the perfect story for all faiths.Vannie(~.~)"