Father O'Malley, the unconventional priest from 'Going My Way', continues his work for the Catholic Church. This time he is sent to St. Mary's, a run-down parochial school on the verge of condemnation. He and Sister Benedict work together in an attempt to save the school, though their differing methods often lead to good-natured disagreements. Written by
Greg Helton <email@example.com>
The most profitable film in the history of RKO Pictures. See more »
When Sister Benedict is starting to erase her drawn portrait on the blackboard when Father O'Malley walks in, she barely erases any of the portrait, but in the next scene most of the portrait is already erased. See more »
Leo McCarey's "The Bells of St. Mary's" was shown recently on TCM, as part of their tribute to Ingrid Bergman. Not having seen it before, we decided to take a look. This film is somewhat dated, but one can see why it was one of the favorite movie it became when it was released. It helped a lot that Mr. McCarey had a pretty decent screen play by Dudley Nichols, but also the two charismatic stars that were at the height of their popularity among movie fans.
The story of what would be considered now, an inner city parochial school, showed how religious nuns dominated that field, as they played a vital role to educate the children of the congregations they were assigned to. Not having had that type of education myself, one can say that what comes across is good solid no-nonsense approach to turning solid citizens out of the children that parents entrusted to those dedicated women. Like them, or not, those nuns have to be credited with whatever success the kids under them went to achieve.
As the Mother Superior at Saint Mary's, Sister Mary Benedit, ruled the school. She had set principles to go by in treating those in the care of the school. Her love for the children is obvious and her desire to get a bigger building in which to expand consumes her throughout the film.
Father O'Malley, on the other hand, looks things in a different way. He clashes with Sister Mary Benedict because in his way of thinking, a little leniency toward the young ones could do much better than with the rigid ways Mother Superior thought was better. Father O'Malley accomplishes more with this attitude than the school director. In fact, it's because his inter action with Mr. Bogardus, the rich man that has bought part of the school to erect a building, that he is able to convince this man to donate it to St. Mary's.
Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby worked well together, or that is the impression one gets by watching them on the screen. These two actors were at the pinnacle of their careers and this film solidified their appeal to their adoring fans. The supporting fans are all excellent. Henry Travers makes a good Mr. Bogardus. Joan Carroll is perfect as Patsy Gallagher, and Una O'Connor turns up as Mrs. Breen.
"The Bells of St. Mary's" will bring joy to any viewer that is willing to take a chance with this timeless classic.
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