THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947)
Article #767 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-21-2003
Posting Date: 9-18-2003
Directed by Henry Koster
Featuring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven
A bishop’s obsession with building a cathedral ends up causing problems in his marriage, and an angel shows up to help.
Angels are not very high on my prioritized list of fantastical creatures I like to see in movies; they rank just below fairies and just above Care Bears. However, if there must be movies about angels, than I couldn’t ask for more than that the angel be played by Cary Grant, and that’s just what this movie provides. Movies like this have the potential to be sickeningly sweet, but the movie accomplishes two things very well; it makes the conflicts real, resonant and touching, and it treats the magic with the lightest and deftest of touches, much of this due to Grant’s performance, which is gentle, warm, effortlessly comic (he can elicit laughs with simple facial expressions without once resorting to mugging) and never heavy-handed. Amazingly, the movie was originally cast with the roles of Grant and David Niven reversed, which seems unthinkable watching this movie now. Loretta Young is truly lovely here, and all the performances shine, including smaller roles by Gladys Cooper, Monty Woolley, and James Gleason (whose specialty seems to be coming up with priceless reactions to fantastical events and strange characters).