7.6/10
13,707
152 user 46 critic

The Bishop's Wife (1947)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy | 16 February 1948 (USA)
Trailer
2:38 | Trailer
A debonair angel comes to Earth to help an Episcopalian bishop and his wife in their quest to raise money for the new church.

Director:

Henry Koster

Writers:

Robert E. Sherwood (screenplay), Leonardo Bercovici (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Dudley
Loretta Young ... Julia Brougham
David Niven ... Henry Brougham
Monty Woolley ... Professor Wutheridge
James Gleason ... Sylvester
Gladys Cooper ... Mrs. Hamilton
Elsa Lanchester ... Matilda
Sara Haden ... Mildred Cassaway
Karolyn Grimes ... Debby Brougham
Tito Vuolo ... Maggenti
Regis Toomey ... Mr. Miller
Sarah Edwards Sarah Edwards ... Mrs. Duffy
Margaret McWade ... Miss Trumbull
Anne O'Neal Anne O'Neal ... Mrs. Ward (as Ann O'Neal)
Ben Erway ... Mr. Perry
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Storyline

An Episcopal Bishop, Henry Brougham, has been working for months on the plans for an elaborate new cathedral which he hopes will be paid for primarily by a wealthy, stubborn widow. He is losing sight of his family and of why he became a churchman in the first place. Enter Dudley, an angel sent to help him. Dudley does help everyone he meets, but not necessarily in the way they would have preferred. With the exception of Henry, everyone loves him, but Henry begins to believe that Dudley is there to replace him, both at work and in his family's affections, as Christmas approaches. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bishop | angel | christmas | hope | faith | See All (73) »

Taglines:

The Bishop's Wife is one of those really rare pictures that leaves you with a wonderful glow! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Britain the film was selected for that year's Royal Command Film Performance screening. Princess Margaret and her sister, Queen Elizabeth, both attended the screening of 'The Bishop's Wife' on November 25 at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square. According to David Niven, "The audience loved every second of it, and the Queen and Princess Margaret told me afterwards and at great length how much they had enjoyed it." Although most of the critics at the time sneered when it was released in time for Christmas 1947, the public audiences loved it as well. See more »

Goofs

When Dudley first composes the Christmas sermon he mentions the gift of a tie before a book, but when the bishop gives the sermon, he reverses the order and mentions the book before the tie. See more »

Quotes

Dudley: Well, if you had sent me to represent you with Mrs. Hamilton, I would've gone. You didn't. So I represented you with your wife.
Henry Brougham: Is that part of the normal duties of a... of an angel?
Dudley: Sometimes, Henry, angels must rush in where fools fear to tread.
Henry Brougham: I haven't the faintest idea what that means. I don't want it explained to me.
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Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Frank Miller (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Lost April
(uncredited)
Music by Emil Newman and Herbert W. Spencer (as Herbert Spencer)
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User Reviews

 
He's a real angel of a guy...
26 December 2002 | by gaityrSee all my reviews

Reverend Henry Brougham (David Niven) is working very hard to get his cathedral built--in fact, he's so busy speaking to wealthy clients and attending business meetings that he forgets that the one thing he needs most in this world is his wife Julia (Loretta Young) and their daughter Debbie. As Julia feels increasingly hurt at Henry's neglect, who should swoop in but the mysterious, charming Dudley (Cary Grant), telling Henry he's an angel who's there to answer Henry's prayer. Henry can't quite believe this even as Dudley seems to make himself quite at home in Henry's life, charming the wife, the child, the maids... even the taxi driver Sylvester (James Gleason). It's all a bit too much for Henry when Dudley finally brings the cathedral's biggest patron Mrs Hamilton (Gladys Cooper) around to the idea of donating the money to the homeless instead of to the cathedral. Is there anything left of Henry's life that he can salvage? And can he really compete against an angel who has God and little miracles on his side?

THE BISHOP'S WIFE is a sweet little romantic dramedy, perfect for a Christmas night curled up before the TV set. You have to give it credit for packing in a lot more story and real, human characters than you'd expect--it's not stock Christmas heart-tugging schmokum (did I just make up a word?), but a story that's quite genuinely intelligent and real. It's not perfect (what is?), but its presentation of the characters, especially Dudley and Henry, ring true. You can believe that Henry, underneath his bitterness and myopia, really loves his wife. He's just... forgotten his direction in life, is all. Niven does an excellent job with the character, keeping him just this side of prim but making him sympathetic especially when he asks Dudley to put up his fists for Julia.

My favourite secondary characters are Sylvester, played impeccably by Gleason, and the slightly dotty Professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley). They're actually real *people*. Actually, they even fare better than Julia herself, whom I didn't particularly warm to. I wasn't annoyed by her, but nor did I feel that it was very likely she could get a reverend and an angel to almost come to blows over her. It's a shame that Loretta Young spent most of the film looking pensive, and even in her character's moments of joy--say the ice-skating scene--she simply fails to leap off the screen and run away with the audience's hearts.

Cary Grant has no such problem, however. From the moment he strolls onscreen as Dudley--the guardian angel every girl wished she could have--he has everyone's attention. He makes Dudley just a little bit roguish, a little bit dark. You couldn't really take Grant seriously if he's all decked out in an angel's costume, halo and harp and all, but you *can* imagine him as a sort of very human kind of angel. Which is exactly what Dudley is. It's mostly the smaller moments Grant sneaks into the film and his own performance that make THE BISHOP'S WIFE compelling viewing, and if you came to this film as a Grant fan, you certainly won't leave it disappointed.

All in all, the final film is well-drawn-together, cleverly written and directed, and benefiting from its two powerhouse male leads... Niven cleverly underplaying his part, and Grant suffusing Dudley with the charm and deep, hidden vulnerability he can suggest in all his characters without so much as faking a pained expression. It's definitely a great way to spend a Christmas night, and perhaps any other night. 8/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

16 February 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bishop's Wife See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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