Celluloid Christmas: Holy Hollywood! "The Bishop's Wife" is one of my Noel favorites
Twelve days Until Christmas Eve, perfect for posting the 12 Films of Christmas. Yes, Hollywood has cranked out hundreds, if not thousands, of celluloid holiday scripts. These are the dozen magical movies that defined Christmas to me as a child and today. In no particular order, Day #1: "The Bishop's Wife" (1947).
In post World War II, many screenwriters began to envision angels as men in business suits. After the Allies' defeating of evil in the war, just a scant few years earlier, it made sense. The returning heroic vets, now entering the work force, were seen as angels and as saviors. "The Bishop's Wife" blends romance, supernatural tricks, marital disharmony, extramarital flirtation (with an angel, no less), and social progressive messages. All of this when stirred together comes across as sweet, sentimental, and just a little syrupy. Loretta Young is the title character, Julia, a warm-hearted woman neglected by her ambitious cleric husband; David Niven is Henry Brougham, the bishop in question, his faith seems to have been buried beneath bureaucratic concerns and administrative red tape; Cary Grant is the angel messenger, Dudley, who is sent to rekindle Julia's love of life and Henry's love for his wife and daughter.
Jealousy and possible infidelity as a catalyst for Christian conversion! It happens, folks, in this film, and I loved it! Think the ghostly sophistication of "Topper" (which also starred Grant) and "Heaven Can Wait." Interesting tidbit: In some markets, where the film was underperforming at the box office, it was renamed "Cary and the Bishop's Wife." Other theaters just added a black box to their original poster that queried: "Have you heard about Cary and the Bishop's Wife?" Sex appeal and Christmas, take that you Peloton Bike controversy!