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The Preacher's Wife (1996)

5.4
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 7,740 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 35 critic

Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Paul Bates ...
Saul Jeffreys
Lex Monson ...
Osbert
Darvel Davis Jr. ...
Hakim
William James Stiggers Jr. ...
Billy Eldridge
Marcella Lowery ...
Anna Eldridge
...
Mrs. Havergal
Aaron A. McConnaughey ...
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Storyline

Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help - and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley. However, Dudley's arrival seems to cause even more trouble... Written by Jonathan Broxton <j.w.broxton@sheffield.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They needed help. What they got was a miracle.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ask melegi  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

JPY 54,112,300 (Japan) (20 December 1996)

Gross:

$48,093,211 (USA) (18 April 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the church scenes were filmed at Trinity United Methodist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The production renovated the church to look more like a Baptist church. After filming ended, more renovations were added to return the church to a Methodist style. In the film, the church needs a new boiler. In real life, the real church did need a new boiler. The money from the fees for renting the space helped the church buy a new boiler and ventilation system. See more »

Quotes

Julia Biggs: It's okay if I look in the window, just as long as I don't buy.
Marguerite Coleman: Yeah? Well, don't go shopping with money in your pocket! And you better not be putting anything in the layaway plan, either!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Step By Step
Performed by Whitney Houston
Courtesy by Arista Records
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User Reviews

 
Disappointing remake
4 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yet another cinematic remake of an older classic that begs the question: "Why?" Especially when the changes made to script and story not only offer no improvement, but are actually giant steps backward.

"The Bishop's Wife," upon which this film is based, beats this one hands down in all major categories of story, direction, and acting. I even enjoyed the original soundtrack by Hugo Friedhofer far better, in spite of the fact that this film was obviously intended to be a vehicle to exploit Whitney Houston's vocal talent. (Does that remind you of another Whitney Houston vehicle co-starring Kevin Costner?)

In the original movie, a need for an angel to be sent to the Bishop makes perfect sense...the bishop played by David Niven was obviously conflicted with earthly ambitions and had lost his way spiritually, sadly neglecting his wife and child in the process. In this remake, Denzel as Dudley the angel seems lost as to what his mission is. In fact, the Preacher often seems to be a better person than the angel in this version! The basic problem is that the Preacher is so dedicated in his role as pastor helping the sick and troubled ghetto kids, his time as a family man is understandably stretched thin. (Incidentally, there is a scene where Henry the preacher is spending quality time with his son, which even undercuts the film's attempt to construct this minor conflict.) Anyway, it all seems more like a job for a scheduling consultant than something as drastic as sending an angel down from heaven to perform "miracles".

The Bishop's Wife was also made during a time when Hollywood did not shy away from Christian spiritual themes. While Cary Grant's Dudley the angel is clearly a messenger and servant of God, Denzel Washington's tired glances skyward seem to indicate a reluctant impatience with the Almighty that further contradicts his role and ultimate purpose in the story. And as can be expected in this era of movie sermonizing, humanism is the true "savior" celebrated on Christmas Day.

A handsome cast with Denzel and Whitney, but lacking all the charm, subtle spiritual depth and cohesion of the original.


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