Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Bishop's Wife

"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, 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 are celebrating. Don't ever let us 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." -from the bishop's sermon

The Bishop's Wife is a 1947 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven. Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein, Bell, Book and Candle, Mary Poppins) is the maid. Karolyn Grimes, who played the youngest Bailey child Zuzu in It's a Wonderful Life, plays the daughter in this.

Cary Grant is an angel sent in answer to prayer to help the bishop (David Niven), who is neglecting his wife and child to court the wealthy in order to get the new cathedral built.


I do wish they'd been able to find an ice-skating double that at least vaguely resembled Cary Grant. The difference is jarring. Otherwise, it's delightful, a charming Christmas film worthy of annual viewing.

The New York Times review says "it comes very close to being the most enchanting picture of the year" and calls it a "warm and winning fable". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 79%.

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