The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

“You don’t know what it’s like to be up to your neck in nuns.” That’s what the housekeeper says to Fr. O’Malley (Bing Crosby) upon his arrival at St. Mary’s. The priest Fr. O’Malley is replacing has been sent away to some unspecified treatment center or home for addled priests or some such. But Fr. O’Malley does just fine, of course, because he is in reality a smooth, suave, golden-throated singer from Spokane, Washington, with more than a few man-of-the-world style tricks up his priestly sleeves. Ingrid Bergman as Sister Benedict is positioned as Fr. O’Malley’s ostensible nun-nemesis, but the two of them generate such a warm glow that all the rest of the movie has to do is meander around them and bask, which it does in pretty fine fashion. The ostensible Mr. Potter-like villain of the movie is played by the same actor who would, the following year, appear as the angel Clarence in It’s A Wonderful Life, and that just about says it all. Everything is wonderful here. The villains are actually angels, and the problems are actually just occasions to sit down at the piano and knock out a little tune while doing good and being tricky in the service of the good. And then there are the nuggets of wisdom like this from Sister Benedict: “You don’t become a nun to run away from life, Patsy. It’s not because you lost something but because you found something.” Enjoyable.

Overall: B+
Priest factor: B+

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  1. Jonathan Webb says

    We need more suave singing priests, and to be up to our necks in hot looking, yet chaste, nuns.

  2. Rufus McCain says

    Yes, amen! Let it be so!

  3. Rufus McCain says

    I might have been too stingy with my grading here. I could easily be swayed to the A+ range, which is what Fr. O'Malley would be inclined to give all the students at St. Mary's.

  4. Photo caption:

    "Was that the chili at lunch?"


  5. Jonathan Webb says

    Non-sequitur comment: ( "NEVER hunt with a partner you can't outrun."

  6. Matthew Lickona says

    You know, this one has a familiar ring to it.

  7. Anonymous says

    I was saying last night wasn't Ingrid Bergman one of the most beautiful actresses? Somebody else said Rita Hayworth, but I never really thought that.

  8. Jonathan Webb says

    Bergman to be sure over Hayworth, but Ava Gardner has everyone beat before or since.

    Frank was completely nuts over Ava, but they fought like dogs and cats.

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