Christmas Movies: The Bishop’s Wife

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Over the years we have explored various Christmas traditions including symbols, recipes, and Christmas stories. This year, join me as we explore some of the classic Christmas movies.

original poster

The Bishop’s Wife is a popular romantic comedy for Christmas.

The 1947 film stared Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.

The film was adapted from the 1928 novel by Robert Nathan by Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood. Henry Koster directed the film.

The story is about a troubled Bishop Henry Boughman struggling to fund his new cathedral, who prays for divine guidance. He is answered by a suave angel named Dudley, who can only reveal his true identity to the Bishop. Dudley is there to serve as a spiritual guide and help the Bishop focus on relationships with his wife and young daughter. Everyone, except Henry, is charmed by Dugly who persuades the wealthy parishioner to contribute funds to help those in need. Dudley is surprised when he has feelings for Julia and indicates his willingness to stay. He admits it’s rare for an angel to envy a mortal. He reminds the Bishop to pray for guidance, not a building before he leaves, promising never to return. As he leaves all memory of him is erased, and he watches from the street satisfied his work is done.

David Niven was originally cast as the angel, but when cast changes had to be made and Cary Grant was brought in, he wanted to play the angel. Hence, Niven was given the role of the bishop.

Various rewrites had to be done and early previews were not well received. However, the film was a critical success but not a bos office success. Some even renamed it Cary and the Bishop’s Wife which increased sales.

A remake

The song “Lost April” featured in the film was written and performed by Nat King Cole.

The film won an award for Best Sound and was nominated for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Picture.

A half hour radio dramatization was made in 1948 using the original cast.

The AFI nominated it for several of it’s best film list.

In 1996, the film was remade as The Preacher’s Wife starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance.

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