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The Bishop's Wife

(1947 b 109')

En: 7 Ed: 8

Based on Robert Nathan's novel, a bishop raising money for a cathedral asks God for help. An angel appears to assist him and wins over everyone except the bishop himself.

Dudley (Cary Grant) stops a baby carriage from rolling into traffic. History professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley) gives Julia Brougham (Loretta Young) an old Roman coin for her husband's effort to raise money for a cathedral. Dudley asks Wutheridge about the Broughams. Julia finds Agnes Hamilton (Gladys Cooper) criticizing Henry Brougham (David Niven) and insisting the cathedral be built her way. Julia asks Henry to forget the cathedral, but he can't. Henry looks at the painting of the cathedral and asks God for help.

Dudley appears to Henry and says he is an angel, but he tells Julia that he is Henry's assistant. Henry has meetings and won't let Dudley go in his place; thus Henry can't be with Julia. Dudley meets little Debby Brougham (Karolyn Grimes), and he helps her play in the snow with the boys. Matilda (Elsa Lanchester) shows up to take care of her so that Julia and Dudley can go to her favorite place for lunch. They see Wutheridge and go to his apartment for a drink, and Dudley keeps filling the glasses. Wutheridge admits he has not written his book. Dudley tells the history of the coin and Julius Caesar, and he assures Wutheridge he will have time to finish his history.

Henry asks Dudley to prove that he is an angel. Henry praises Julia. Dudley tells Debby a story about the shepherd David. Henry goes to see Agnes Hamilton and accepts her suggestions. He tries to leave but is stuck in a varnished chair. Julia and Dudley go to the choir rehearsal. Dudley has two boys sing, and others come in. Henry calls Matilda to bring him trousers. Julia buys a hat she likes, and Dudley calls the cab driver Sylvester (James Gleason). The three go ice skating, and Sylvester thanks Dudley for helping him. Dudley tells Henry that he represented him with his wife. Henry says that Mrs. Hamilton is giving the million, but Dudley implies the money could meet other needs. Henry asks Dudley to leave.

Debby, Julia, and Matilda hope that Dudley will come back. Henry asks his secretary Mildred (Sara Haden) to type his sermon. He and Julia take Sylvester's cab. Dudley appears to Mildred and types a sermon about an empty stocking. Dudley calls on Agnes Hamilton and plays the harp. She says the man who wrote that music is the only man she ever loved. Henry and Julia arrive. Agnes says she is going to give her money to help the poor, and she wants Henry to direct it.

Henry visits Wutheridge, who shows him his writing. Henry thinks he lost Julia. Wutheridge gives the rare coin back to Henry and tells him to fight for Julia. Dudley tells Julia that he does not want to go, but she says he must. Dudley tells Henry he is going, and they won't remember him. His prayer for guidance has been answered. Dudley asks Henry to kiss Julia for him and departs.

Henry is looking at the painting. He goes to Julia and says he is happy. Henry gives the sermon about the empty stocking of the one whose birthday they are celebrating.

This spiritual fantasy reflects how modern religion has been lost in material concerns, but joyful and loving consideration can restore people's faith in each other.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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