THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA (1952)
Article 2124 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-8-2007
Posting Date: 6-6-2007
Directed by John Brahm
Featuring Susan Whitney, Sherry Jackson, Carl Milletaire
Three young children encounter a vision of a lovely lady in a cloud just outside of Fatima. People gather from all around when it is rumored that the children have seen the Virgin Mary.
During the forties, movies with religious themes became very common, and one of the surprising things I discovered was that most of them were quite good, thanks mostly due to the excellence of the scripts, which took the trouble to develop memorable characters to undergo these experiences. The trend continued into the fifties, but the quality went downhill; characters lost their dimension, and the stories become simplistic. To illustrate my point, compare this movie with THE SONG OF BERNADETTE from a decade earlier; whereas that movie gave us a startling array of memorable and complex characters, this one settles for far less. Yes, Gilbert Roland’s likable but cynical hero (he protects the children even if he doesn’t believe in their vision) is fun, but he’s pretty much meant to serve one dramatic purpose which you should see coming long before the movie ends. The villainous administrator is far too close to being Snidely Whiplash for a movie that purports to be realistic, and of the three children, the two young ones are differentiated only by their sexes, while the older one’s main function is to tug on our heartstrings by having people be mean to her so she can break into tears every ten minutes or so. If THE SONG OF BERNADETTE was true drama, this is very much simple melodrama. Still, some of the spectacle is good, I like the fact that the vision is never clearly seen, and Max Steiner’s score is lovely. The acting in the crowd scenes is fairly lame. The director of this one also gave us THE LODGER and HANGOVER SQUARE, and personally, I prefer his work when he’s dealing with serial killers.