This is a bit of an odd idea for a film but in a strange way it works! Of course the cast do a lot to make this film incredibly watchable, but the story is also quite real and genuine. You really feel for all the characters involved and become invested in their stories. I first saw this film last year and I wish I’d seen it sooner!
The story revolves around Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) and his wife Julia (Loretta Young). Henry is preoccupied with finding funds to build a new cathedral, to the detriment of his relationship with his wife and daughter. He prays for help and gets Cary Grant in angel form to assist him, named Dudley.
Dudley isn’t there to help build a cathedral though. He aims to help everybody, including the Broughams and everyone he meets! Everybody loves Dudley, except Henry who begins to regret praying for help! Dudley’s good deeds include persuading wealthy people to donate money to charity, saving an old church by rejuvenating the choir, and writing Henry’s sermon.
As part of Dudley’s “role” he tries to help Julia but then, surprise surprise, he starts falling for her! Everything all turns out ok though as Henry and Julia’s marriage is restored. Dudley goes back to wherever he came from, just in time for everyone to have a merry Christmas!
It is an odd premise for a film and on paper shouldn’t really work, but it absolutely does! For me it’s a film that works well because it was made and set in an older era, and it wouldn’t really work if it was made today/ (A modern version has been made but I’m not sure I want to watch it!)
Through the film you really get to know these characters and feel for them. Even Henry, who was quite annoying at the beginning when he was so obsessed with his cathedral, is likeable and you see why he acts as he does.
It’s quite a slow-moving film that is all about the characters and their lives, rather than being action-packed, but there are a lot of touching scenes which will probably make you determined to do more good things! It is definitely a feel-good film and I really have no bad words to say against it!
This was hard but I did love this scene with Dudley and Debby, the Broughams’ daughter. It was lovely for him to get her included in the game, making everybody happy, including Julia (although the special effects with the snowball were a bit dodgy).
The scene also features Bobby Anderson, who played the young George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, one of my favourite ever films! Debby is also played by Karolyn Grimes, who appeared as George’s daughter Zuzu Bailey, which actually makes this scene kind of weird…
I genuinely liked all the main characters, and it feels a bit of a cop-out to say Dudley/Cary Grant but he was just so good! Sometimes characters who are so good can be annoying, but Dudley is just the right balance of good, warm, funny, but also flawed. That he recognises he loves Julia but can’t be with her as she is married, showed he wasn’t perfect, and made him even more endearing and likeable.
I may just be going soft but honestly, who doesn’t love him?!
There’s so many lovely pieces of dialogues and conversations, but as I was looking and thinking of what to put, I remembered this line which I loved!
Professor Wutheridge: For some time now, every time I pass the cemetery, I feel as though I’m apartment hunting.
For anyone who wants a touching film that really is all about family, love, doing good, and making the world a better place, The Bishop’s Wife is perfect. It strikes the right balance of showing good morals and actions, but not being preachy about it. There is a lot of humour, and as expected, the cast do a great job.
If you want a warm fuzzy feeling this Christmas, watch this film!