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

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The Nun's Story -- A young woman enters the convent and cares for the indigent, but as World War II breaks out, her free spirit and hatred for the enemy make her question her calling to God.
The Nun's Story -- Audrey Hepburn stars as an ex-nun in this trailer for the drama


User Rating:
7.6/10   6,562 votes »
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Down 9% 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:
Audrey Hepburn Glows as Sister Luke 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?

The film cast includes five Oscar winners: Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Beatrice Straight, Peggy Ashcroft and Dean Jagger; and four Oscar nominees: Edith Evans, Patricia Collinge, Barbara O'Neil and Mildred Dunnock.See more »
Miscellaneous: When the patient in the Congo hospital is being attended by several people, the voice of the actor playing the patient is obviously dubbed over by actor Dean Jagger, who plays Sister Luke's father in the film.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 Sister Aurelie beaten to death?
Is "The Nun's Story" based on a book?
What order did Sister Luke belong to?
See more »
17 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
Audrey Hepburn Glows as Sister Luke, 8 September 2006
Author: dglink from Alexandria, VA

An intense conflict between spirituality and humanity lies at the core of Fred Zinneman's excellent adaptation of Katherine Hulme's "The Nun's Story." Young Gabrielle enters the convent and, as Sister Luke, strives to attain the difficult qualities of sisterhood, but at the same time her talents and skills at medicine and research pull her in another direction. Gabrielle is taught that a nun not only takes vows of chastity and poverty, but must also be obedient and humble. Although not overtly discussed, Sister Luke's decision to enter the convent may have been connected to a romantic affair, the only evidence of which are a ring, a photograph, and a comment from her father. Although Sister Luke tries to obey the rules of silence and obedience, she is the daughter of a prominent physician, and she harbors ambitions to work in medicine and serve in the Congo. The conflict between the two competing ambitions reaches a crisis point when a sister superior suggests to her that she fail her medical examinations in order to show humility.

Audrey Hepburn imbues Sister Luke with a radiance and glow that illuminates the screen. In what is arguably her finest performance, Hepburn displays the subtle shades of conflict and doubt that creep into her persona as she struggles between her roles as a Bride of Christ and a practical nurse to the sick and dying. Reportedly, Hepburn's interest in helping the needy of Africa began during the location shooting for this film.

A galaxy of fine actresses shine as the sisters with whom Sister Luke interacts. Such luminaries as Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, Mildred Dunnock, Barbara O'Neil, and Beatrice Straight offer their own special glow as patient and understanding nuns. Colleen Dewhurst has only a couple of memorable scenes as a hospital inmate, but, with few lines of dialog, she creates an enduring character. Peter Finch and Dean Jagger are solid and effective as, respectively, Dr. Fortunati, who works with Sister Luke in the Congo, and as Gabrielle's disappointed father.

While "The Nun's Story" is comparatively long, the fascinating detail of the young nun's years as a novice, medical student, asylum aide, missionary, and hospital nurse in Belgium and the Congo during the 1930's is engrossing and tastefully filmed by Fred Zinneman. With beautiful cinematography by Franz Planer and a spare, but lovely, score by Franz Waxman, "The Nun's Story" is one of the most religious movies ever filmed. Few films have ever so successfully explored the demands of a spiritual life and the conflict those demands can create in someone with strong human needs. With Audrey Hepburn at her zenith, "The Nun's Story" was among the finest films of the 1950's and still remains a rewarding emotional experience.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Nun's Story (1959)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Was the sanitarium stabbing ever in the film? sandfleas2008
Lesbian relationship after leaving the convent realtormiles
mh hospital/steam tubs dharvestmoon
Ever wanted to be a nun? NumberOnePhantomFan
Nun gets sick; has to drink beer. Why ? cbee-1
dowery?? laurajanelinton
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