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"The Bishop's Wife"

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Character's Name: Dudley
Release Date:  November 13, 1947
Director: Henry Koster
Studio:  RKO Radio
Running Time: 106 minutes

Cast:  Cary Grant (Dudley), Loretta Young (Julia Brougham), David Niven (Henry Brougham), Monty Wooley (Professor Wutheridge), James Gleason (Sylvester), Gladys Cooper (Mrs. Hamilton), Elsa Lanchester (Maltilda), Sara Haden (Mildred Casaway), Karolyn Grimes (Debby Broughham), Tito Vuolo (Maggenti), Regis Toomey (Mr. Miller), Sara Edwards (Mrs. Duffy), Margaret McWade (Miss Trumbull), Isabell Jewell (Hysterical mother)

- by ZoŽ Shaw
Dudley is an angel who comes to help a bishop, in answer to the Bishop's prayer for help in getting funds for his new cathedral. The bishop is beginning to lose faith and believes his marriage is failing. Dudley restores his faith, and brings happiness back to the marriage, but the new church remains unbuilt.

- by Donna Moore
Cary Grant is an angel - it's official! He plays Dudley who's "not one of the more important angels" and who comes in answer to the Bishop's prayer. Henry, the Bishop, needs to raise money to build a cathedral but "in dreaming of his cathedral, he's moved away from the people he loved" and is kowtowing to those who only wish to use their money to glorify themselves. In the process, he neglects his wife, Julia and his daughter, Debbie.

Cue Dudley, who charms the socks off the whole household including the dog. The Bishop, however, is jealous of Dudley because he sees his wife having fun with Dudley - something which Henry and Julia no longer have. Dudley makes everyone's lives just that bit better. The only problem is that Dudley enjoys himself more than he has done in centuries and falling in love with Julia was not part of the job description!

This is one of my very favourite films and I feel so sorry for everyone once Dudley has left because they no longer remember that he's been there, but nonetheless his transforming effect remains.

My favourite scenes - ice skating with Sylvester the taxi driver, Henry getting stuck in the chair. One of my favourite lines - when Dudley is looking through the Bishop's mail, Henry asks "Are you expecting a letter?" Dudley's response - "No, but if I do get one the stamp will be worth saving"!

A great film for Christmas (oh, and New Year, Easter, birthdays, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and every day with a "y" in it!!).

VARIETY Film Review - November 19, 1947
- by "Brog"
- submitted by Barry Martin
This is a picture calculated to make an audience leave the theatre with a good feeling. It has a warmth and charm that makes believable the fantasy and has been put together with complete understanding by all involved. Samuel Goldwyn's marshalling of cast, director, writers and physical values stamps it with a class touch, assuring "The Bishop's Wife" a strong draw in all situations and plenty of boxoffice take.  

While a fantasy, there are no fantastic heavenly manifestations. There's a humanness about the characters, even the angel, that beguiles full attention. Henry Koster's sympathetic direction deftly gets over the warm humor supplied by the Robert E. Sherwood-Leonardo Bercovici script, taken from Robert Nathan's novel of the same title.  

Cary Grant is the angel of the piece and has never appeared to greater advantage. Role, with the exception of a minor miracle or two, is potently pointed to indicate character could have been a flesh-and-blood person, a factor that embellishes sense of reality as the angel sets about answering the troubled prayers of Episcopalian bishop, David Niven. Script and Koster's direction develop a strong sense of anticipation as story unfolds, greatly adding to picture's charm.  

Plot, essentially, deals with Grant's assignment to make people act like human beings. In great need of his help is Niven, a young bishop who has lost the common touch and marital happiness because of his dream of erecting a massive cathedral. The wife, Loretta Young, seemingly draws much of the angel's attention to the bishop's discomfort but before it's all over, Grant has laid his heavenly touch on problems distressing the story's characters and has straightened them out.

Miss Young gives a moving performance as the wife whose life is touched by an angel without her knowledge of his heavenly origin Niven's cleric character is played straight but his anxieties and jealously loosen much of the warm humor gracing the plot. Featured and supporting players contribute strong performances to back sock work of principals. Monty Wooley, James Gleason, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Haden, Karolyn Grimes, Tito Vuolo, Regis Toomey, Isabell Jewell are among those who impress.  

Gregg Toland's camera work and the music score by Hugo Friedhoffer, directed by Emil Newman, are ace credits among the many expert contributions. Mitchell Boy choir stands out with vocals on a religious piece. Score contains a harp solo, "Lost April," composed by Newman, and effect of Grant playing the string instrument has been cleverly inserted by special effects. Art direction by George Jenkins and Perry Ferguson, and the set decorations by Julia Heron lend authenticity to Victorian rectory and other settings. 

- by Kathy Fox

Cary Grant and Loretta Young starred in two films:  BORN TO BE BAD in 1934 and thirteen years later, THE BISHOP'S WIFE.  This picture was nominated for Best Picture in 1947, but lost to GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT.  This is Cary Grant's 51st film and his second in 1947.  THE BISHOP'S WIFE was remade into THE PREACHER'S WIFE in 1996, starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.  THE BISHOP'S WIFE is the story of Julia Brougham and Henry Brougham, played by Loretta Young and David Niven, respectfully.  Henry, plays an Episcopalian bishop, who is all caught up with building a new cathedral for his church and has forgotten about his wife, Julia.  Henry wishes that he could have some help with the financing his project and prays to God for assistance.  In comes Dudley, Cary Grant, an angel, who has been sent to honor his wishes.  Dudley then decides he will work for Henry as his assistant, but in reality decides to spend a lot of time with Julia to make her happy, which infuriates Henry.  However, in the end, Dudley disappears forever from their lives after accomplishing all he came to do.  It turns out that an old rare coin given to Julia by Professor Wutheridge, Monty Woolley, is worth a fortune and the new cathedral can be built after all.  Julia and Henry get back together and are much happier because Dudley has shown them the way.  Cary Grant has an awful lot of talent in this movie.  With his acrobatic ability, he relearned how to ice skate; his musical ability lead him to play the harp, and this of course was not one of his funny films.  This was a serious role for Cary and it turned out very well.  Variety review of November 19, 1947, states, "Cary Grant is the angel of the piece and has never appeared to greater advantage."

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - December 10, 1947
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
Emissaries from heaven are not conspicuously exceptional on the screen, the movies having coyly incarnated any number of these supernatural types, ordained by their fanciful creators to right the wrongs of this world (not to mention the bookkeeping errors that seem to occur up above). And certainly communion with angels is traditional at Christmastime, which is the season when most of us mortals need angelic reassurance anyhow. So there is nothing especially surprising about the miracle that occurs in Samuel Goldwyn's "The Bishop's Wife," which opened last night at the Astor - except that it is superb.

And that is very surprising, in view of the realistic fact that it is a sentimental whimsy of the most delicate and dangerous sort. All of us know that angels don't walk the earth like natural men - and definitely not in the image of that debonair rascal, Cary Grant. And most of us have some dark misgivings about the tact of the makers of films when they barge into the private area of a man's communication with his God.

But you need have no anxieties in the case of "The Bishop's Wife." It is as cheerful and respectful an invasion of the realm of conscience that we have seen. And it comes very close to being the most enchanting picture of the year - a judgment to which its many merits will shortly make a strong bid. That is because its incursion is on a comparatively simple and humble plane and its whimsy is sensitively siphoned from the more human and humorous frailties of the flesh.

We are not going to make an analysis of the many subtle comments in this tale of a full-bodied guardian angel who answers a young bishop's prayer for guidance and spiritual comfort in the midst of a crisis in his life. We are not going to state any morals which this charmingly casual angel proves in drawing the bishop's wrought attention from a new cathedral to the richer services of life - and, particularly, to a fresh fulfillment of his family responsibilities. We are not going to mouth about these matters, because the picture itself refrains - and that is one of the most endearing of its many endearing charms.

In shaping this yarn and winning fable from a Robert Nathan book, Robert Sherwood and Leonardo Bercovici have written with beautiful belief that a point clearly made in performance doesn't have to be hit a dozen times nor a moral quietly manifested put into a hundred solemn words. And so there is no heavy pounding of the lesson of humanity, of the futility of ostentation, of the special possessiveness of a man's love. Nor is there any such pounding in Henry Koster's directorial style.

Smoothly and with artful invention he has induced Mr. Grant to give one of his most fluent and beguiling performances as the angel, "Dudley," who fixes things. And he has go out of David Niven a deliciously dexterous and droll characterization of a sorely pressed young bishop who can't quite cotton to this messenger from on high. Elsa Lanchester, too, is encouraged in an exquisitely faceted role of a twitterly little housemaid who flirts with this angelic gent, and Monty Woolley is actually human as an old dodo who is morally re-inspired. James Gleason, Sara Haden and Gladys Cooper are rich in smaller parts. Weakness is only evident in Loretta Young's unctuousness as the bishop's wife. She is the one artificial, inconsistent and discordant note.

Of course, there are probably some people who are going to say that this film encourages a futile illusion with its hope of miraculous aid. But they - if they do - will be missing its most warmly inspiring point which is - but wait a minute: That's for you to recognize and enjoy. We cannot recommend you to a more delightful and appropriate Christmas show.

Click here to read Susanna's review of "The Bishop's Wife"

Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine

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