Archive for the ‘PIOUS COMEDY’ Category

The Bells Of Saint Mary’s

05 Jun

The Bells Of Saint Mary’s – Directed by Leon McCarey. Pious Comedy. A new priest comes to a school run by a long entrenched nun. 126 minutes Black and White 1945.

* * * *

This widely popular film delivered two superstars into vestments. The story which surrounds them is an Irish stew into which a liter of treacle has been dumped. It is supported by marvelous performances by certain character actors, namely Henry Travers who is richly internalized as the greedy landlord, and by Una O’Connor who is the wily and knowing rectory housekeeper, very funny in the opening scene. Ingrid Bergman’s husband did not want her to do it, because it was a sequel to Going My Way, but she hoped to learn something from McCarey and to work in comedy. One wonders what she learned. She brings to it an impeccable complexion and a wonderful glow, but seeing how little she is called upon to do, it is no wonder she steered towards Roberto Rossellini just as soon as her contract with Selznick expired. She has a brilliantly played exposition scene, in which the camera mercifully never takes its eye off her as she receives bad news that gets worse, and from the actors’ point of view the film is worth sitting through for this alone. The imperturbable Bing Crosby plays opposite her, but the trouble is that there is no temperamental or even philosophical difference between the two to make up a drama, for both of them are too inherently nice to present an opposition, so the “conflict” between them we must take on faith. Crosby is really a marvelous actor, and well suited to Bergman because she like he is naturalness incarnate. He has large eyes, a fine endowment for an actor, and the ability to play small. The entire film shines with the artificiality of the sound stage, and whole bunches of Hollywood children, who in that era, all play their parts as if they were drunk. Ya just can’t buy it. Bergman sings a song in Swedish and plays the piano, which she knew how to do, and Crosby does several renditions, which, of course, he knew how to do. It won some Oscars. Watch it at a risk to your waistline. So much sweetening will make you look like one of the bells.





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