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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>
Leo McCarey was inspired to write the original story in tribute to his own aunt and childhood counselor Sister Mary Benedict, one of the Sisters who helped to build the Immaculate Heart Convent in Hollywood and who died in a typhoid fever epidemic. 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 »
Heartwarming & uplifting tribute to parochial school nuns
This is a classic old holiday favorite, and quite deservedly so. It tells the story of a dilapidated parochial school, St. Mary's, that is facing condemnation. Sister Bendict, the Mother Superior and school principal, is struggling not only to save the school but expand it, with dreams of annexing the neighboring property owned by a shrewd businessman named Mr. Bogardus. She frequently clashes with St. Mary's new pastor, Father O'Malley, who has his own ideas as to how the school should be run and its fate.
First of all, I may make some enemies, however...I love Bing Crosby, but the part of Father O'Malley is not merely to serve as a foil for Sister Benedict, but to act much of the time as a veritable idiot! Likable but possibly a tad too clueless to ever have become a priest. For example, his opening stunt where he declares a holiday, can you imagine any Catholic priest actually doing this without first consulting the sisters? He's unrealistically lenient, apparently seeing no need whatsoever for discipline, and disregards standards, encouraging (with no apparent misgivings at all) Sister Benedict to pass a student who has failed the exams. However, he is kind, well intended, and nonjudgmental, as shown by his touching behavior toward young Patsy and her mother, and does sometimes achieve the desired results, I admit, with his relaxed, easy going, laid back style. Wonderful singing as always, with Bing's magnificent, effortless voice. (I didn't see Going My Way, I confess.)
This is Ingrid Bergman's movie. She gives Sister Benedict a sparkling inner light here as she portrays the devout and dedicated nun, trying to save her school while also ensuring its daily operation with kindness, fairness, and genuine concern but also meaningful standards and expectations. She appears strict at times, but has a genuine love for her students and a concern that they truly learn. She glows with pride at her little first graders' Christmas pageant. I love her method for helping young Eddie protect himself against the school yard bullies! Suffice it to say, if I had a child in a parochial school, I would want it run by Sister Benedict and not Father O'Malley!
Unfortunately, these days it's all the negative tales that draw headlines, but my own husband grew up with nuns as teachers during most of his Catholic school years, and he can't sing their praises enough. This movie is a touching, entertaining, and uplifting tale, something of a tribute to all the hard working, dedicated nuns who have taught in parochial schools through the years.
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