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The Nun's Story
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The Nun's Story (1959) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 50 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
The Nun's Story -- Story of Gabrielle Van Der Mal, who gives up everything to become a nun, facing incredible odds in the Congo and then at the mother house inFrance at the outbreak of World War II.
The Nun's Story -- Audrey Hepburn stars as an ex-nun in this trailer for the drama


User Rating:
7.6/10   6,678 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 30% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Robert Anderson (screenplay)
Kathryn Hulme (book)
View company contact information for The Nun's Story on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
18 July 1959 (USA) See more »
Her Faith Remained Strong and True in the Face of Africa's Terrors! See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 12 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Exceptional See more (81 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Audrey Hepburn ... Sister Luke (Gabrielle van der Mal)

Peter Finch ... Dr. Fortunati

Edith Evans ... Rev. Mother Emmanuel (Belgium) (as Dame Edith Evans)

Peggy Ashcroft ... Mother Mathilde (Africa) (as Dame Peggy Ashcroft)

Dean Jagger ... Dr. Van Der Mal

Mildred Dunnock ... Sister Margharita (Mistress of Postulants)

Beatrice Straight ... Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Patricia Collinge ... Sister William (convent teacher)
Rosalie Crutchley ... Sister Eleanor

Ruth White ... Mother Marcella (School of Medicine)

Barbara O'Neil ... Mother Didyma (War-time Hospital)
Margaret Phillips ... Sister Pauline (medical student)

Patricia Bosworth ... Simone (postulant who changed her mind)

Colleen Dewhurst ... Archangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
Stephen Murray ... Chaplain (Father Andre)

Lionel Jeffries ... Dr. Goovaerts (School of Tropical Medicine)
Niall MacGinnis ... Father Vermeuhlen (Leprosarium)
Eva Kotthaus ... Sister Marie (Sanatorium)
Molly Urquhart ... Sister Augustine (Africa)
Dorothy Alison ... Sister Aurelie (martyred nurse, Africa)
Jeanette Sterke ... Louise (sister of Gabrielle) (as Jeannette Sterke)
Errol John ... Illunga (African convert)
Diana Lambert ... Lisa (the Resistance)
Orlando Martins ... Kalulu (African servant)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elsa Albani ... (uncredited)
Gabriella Andreini ... (uncredited)
Juan Aymerich ... (uncredited)
Ludovice Bonhomme ... Bishop (uncredited)
Grazia De Rossi ... (uncredited)
Giovanna Galletti ... (uncredited)
Dara Gavin ... Sister Ellen (uncredited)
Penelope Horner ... Jeanette Milonet (uncredited)
Irene Labhart ... (uncredited)
Charles Lamb ... Pascin (uncredited)
Ave Ninchi ... Sister Bernard (uncredited)
Richard O'Sullivan ... Pierre (brother of Gabrielle) (uncredited)
Elfride Simbari ... Sister Timothy (uncredited)
Frank Singuineau ... Murderer of Sister Aurelie (uncredited)
Marina Wolkonsky ... Marie (sister of Gabrielle) (uncredited)

Directed by
Fred Zinnemann 
Writing credits
Robert Anderson (screenplay)

Kathryn Hulme (book) (as Kathryn C. Hulme)

Produced by
Henry Blanke .... producer
Fred Zinnemann .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Franz Waxman 
Cinematography by
Franz Planer (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Walter Thompson 
Art Direction by
Alexandre Trauner  (as Alexander Trauner)
Set Decoration by
Maurice Barnathan 
Costume Design by
Marjorie Best 
Makeup Department
Alberto De Rossi .... makeup artist
Grazia De Rossi .... hair stylist
Production Management
Julien Derode .... production manager: for Belgium and Congo
Chuck Hansen .... production manager (as Charles Hansen)
Orazio Tassara .... production manager: for Italy
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Bernard Vorhaus .... assistant director (as Piero Mussetta)
Sam Zebba .... second unit director
Sergio Leone .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Italo Tomassi .... manager of art department (uncredited)
Sound Department
Oliver S. Garretson .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Goffredo Bellisario .... camera operator (uncredited)
Léo L. Fuchs .... still photographer (uncredited)
Music Department
Franz Waxman .... conductor
Other crew
Stanley Browne .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Christian Ferry .... location manager (uncredited)
Marie-Louise Habets .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Elaine Schreyeck .... script supervisor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete


Additional Details

Also Known As:
149 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Argentina:13 | Brazil:12 | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 | Sweden:15 | UK:U | UK:PG (tv rating) | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | USA:Approved (certificate #18979) | West Germany:12 (nf)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

A patient in the Congo hospital has lines in just one scene; when it was necessary to dub over his line, it was spoken by Dean Jagger.See more »
Factual errors: 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 »
Movie Connections:


Why was Gabrielle's name changed to "Sister Luke"?
Where did Sister Luke go after she left the convent?
What is a "dowry"?
See more »
47 out of 59 people found the following review useful.
Exceptional, 26 November 2000
Author: Jon Kolenchak from Pittsburgh, PA USA

When Audrey Hepburn, as Sister Luke returns from the Belgian Congo, she has a brief meeting with her father, whom she has not seen in years. So much time has gone by that they engage mostly in small talk. He when he finally asks her how she is "inside" (gesturing to her heart), she responds with, "Fine, how are you, Father"?. He replies, "Still very lonesome for you". That scene alone is enough to break your heart.

The Nun's Story is filled with such scenes. Fred Zinnemann directed this film so perfectly that you don't even realize that for the first 40 minutes or so, you are being instructed on how nuns learn to "act like nuns".

There are lots of famous actors in those habits, too. Beatrice Straight (Network), Barbara O'Neill (Gone with the Wind), as well as a glorious performance by Dame Edith Evans as Mother Emmanuel.

The amount of emotion that Audrey Hepburn can portray with just her eyes, a turn of her head, or a subtle facial expression is simply incredible. Without giving away any important plot element, there is one scene where she is in her cell trying to cope with a letter that she received. It is one of the most painful scenes in the entire film.

Sister Luke's struggles are balanced by scenes that are so beautiful in their simplicity, that to attempt description here would be impossible.

And the film score by Franz Waxman is one of the best things he has ever written - most of the melodic motifs are based on ancient Gregorian chant, and the orchestration is superb. When we reach a climactic scene involving Colleen Dewhurst, he switches from his Romanticized writing style to a 20th century 12-tone technique, and the shock of the dissonant music fits the action of the scene perfectly.

Sister Luke's struggle is universal. Anyone who has looked deep into their own soul for whatever reason can identify with her.

When Sister Luke is asked by her father to describe her doctor in the Congo, she smiles and says, "Exceptional". The same can be said for this beautiful film.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (81 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Nun's Story (1959)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Becoming a nun today... trish722
When the hair is cut... Frances_Kubelik
Nun gets sick; has to drink beer. Why ? cbee-1
Was the sanitarium stabbing ever in the film? sandfleas2008
Lesbian relationship after leaving the convent realtormiles
mh hospital/steam tubs dharvestmoon
See more »


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