The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  18 July 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 6,679 users  
Reviews: 81 user | 24 critic

After leaving a wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II.



(screenplay), (book) (as Kathryn C. Hulme)
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rev. Mother Emmanuel (Belgium) (as Dame Edith Evans)
Mother Mathilde (Africa) (as Dame Peggy Ashcroft)
Dr. Van Der Mal
Sister Margharita (Mistress of Postulants)
Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Patricia Collinge ...
Sister William (convent teacher)
Rosalie Crutchley ...
Sister Eleanor
Mother Marcella (School of Medicine)
Mother Didyma (War-time Hospital)
Margaret Phillips ...
Sister Pauline (medical student)
Simone (postulant who changed her mind)
Stephen Murray ...
Chaplain (Father Andre)


In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, expecting to work as nun in Congo with tropical diseases. She says good-bye to her sisters Louise and Marie; to her brother Pierre; and to her beloved father, and subjects herself to the stringent rules of the retrograde institution, including interior silent and excessive humbleness and humiliation. After a long period working in a mental institution, Gaby is finally assigned to go to Congo, where she works with the Atheist and cynical, but brilliant, Dr. Fortunati. Sister Luke proves to be very efficient nurse and assistant, and Dr. Fortunati miraculous heals her tuberculosis. Years later, she is ordered to return to Belgium and when her motherland is invaded by the Germans, she learns that her beloved father was murdered by the enemy while he was helping wounded members of the resistance. Sister ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

congo | nun | belgium | convent | religious | See All (57) »


The most gripping and dramatic personal story of this decade is on the screen! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 July 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Historia de una monja  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Finch and Errol John were to return to the Congo two years later for the movie The Sins of Rachel Cade. See more »


In the scene where they are making their vows, the priest blesses each one in Latin. The formula should be "et Spiritus Sancti" and not "et Spiritus Sanctus." See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: "He that shall lose his life for me shall find it. If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and come follow me." Each sister shall understand that on entering the convent, she has made the sacrifice of her life to God.
See more »


Referenced in Night Court: The Nun (1984) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Don't let the title serve only as a turn-off...
12 August 2000 | by See all my reviews

Honestly, if my family hadn't already owned this movie I probably would have past over it again and again without much hesitation. However, given the limited amount of movies I had to chose from, I decided to give this movie a fair shot. Wow. To think that I only viewed this movie out of desperation is embarrassing! The inner-struggle that Sr. Luke (Audrey Hepburn)undergoes from postulant to nun is incredibly human, not strictly religious. I thought, given the movie's topic, that I would be bored and lost, yet found myself completely in touch with the reality of her life. Its almost impossible not to become in touch with her character, especially once she reaches the Congo and faces the underplayed romantic tension between herself and Peter Finch. While I have absolutely no intention of suddenly becoming a nun or running off to the Congo, I will always be up for another viewing of this movie. So ignore the title and give this movie a chance!

26 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
Ever wanted to be a nun? NumberOnePhantomFan
Was the sanitarium stabbing ever in the film? sandfleas2008
Question about the baths...? gay_geisha
Where was she going to? imdbmovie
Becoming a nun today... trish722
Lesbian relationship after leaving the convent realtormiles
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