The Bishop's Wife

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The Bishop's Wife
(Cary and the Bishop's Wife)
The Bishop's Wife clean poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Henry Koster
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Screenplay by Leonardo Bercovici
Robert E. Sherwood
Billy Wilder (uncredited)
Charles Brackett (uncredited)
Based onThe Bishop's Wife
by Robert Nathan
Starring Cary Grant
Loretta Young
David Niven
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Edited by Monica Collingwood
Production
company
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • December 9, 1947 (1947-12-09)(Premiere-New York City) [1]
  • February 16, 1948 (1948-02-16)(U.S.) [1]
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$3 million (US rentals) [2]

The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, [3] is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film from 1947, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an angel who helps a bishop with his problems. The film was adapted by Leonardo Bercovici and Robert E. Sherwood from the 1928 novel of the same name by Robert Nathan, and was directed by Henry Koster.

Samuel Goldwyn Polish-American film producer

Samuel Goldwyn, also known as Samuel Goldfish, was a Polish-American film producer. He was most well known for being the founding contributor and executive of several motion picture studios in Hollywood. His awards include the 1973 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1947, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1958.

Romantic comedy Film genre

Romantic comedy is a genre with lighthearted, humorous plot lines centered on romantic ideas, such as how true love is able to surmount most obstacles. One dictionary definition is "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily". Another definition suggests that its "primary distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled".

A feature film or theatrical film is a film with a running time long enough to be considered the principal or sole film to fill a program. The term feature film originally referred to the main, full-length film in a cinema program that also included a short film and often a newsreel. The notion of how long a feature film should be has varied according to time and place. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute and the British Film Institute, a feature film runs for more than 40 minutes, while the Screen Actors Guild asserts that a feature's running time is 75 minutes or longer.

Contents

It was remade in 1996 as The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance.

<i>The Preachers Wife</i> 1996 film by Penny Marshall

The Preacher's Wife is a 1996 American family film directed by Penny Marshall and starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance. It is a remake of the 1947 film The Bishop's Wife, which in turn was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Nathan.

Denzel Washington American actor, screenwriter, director and producer

Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. is an American actor, director, and producer. He has received two Golden Globe awards, one Tony Award, two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in the crime thriller Training Day (2001).

Whitney Houston American singer, actress, model, and record producer

Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American singer and actress. She was cited as the most awarded female artist of all time by Guinness World Records and remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Houston's crossover appeal on the popular music charts—as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for "How Will I Know"—influenced several African-American women artists who followed in her footsteps.

Plot

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven), troubled with funding the building of a new cathedral, prays for divine guidance. His plea is seemingly answered by a suave angel named Dudley (Cary Grant), who reveals his identity only to the clergyman.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

David Niven English actor and novelist

James David Graham Niven was a British actor, memoirist and novelist. His many roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, and Sir Charles Lytton in The Pink Panther. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Separate Tables (1958).

Cathedral Christian church, which is seat of a bishop

A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul, Spain and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences.

However, Dudley's mission is not to help construct a cathedral, but to spiritually guide Henry and the people around him. Henry has become obsessed with raising funds, to the detriment of his family life. His relationships with wife Julia (Loretta Young) and their young daughter are strained by his focus on the cathedral.

Loretta Young American actress

Loretta Young was an American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953. She won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1947 film The Farmer's Daughter, and received an Oscar nomination for her role in Come to the Stable in 1949. Young moved to the relatively new medium of television, where she had a dramatic anthology series, The Loretta Young Show, from 1953 to 1961. The series earned three Emmy Awards, and was re-run successfully on daytime TV and later in syndication. In the 1980s, Young returned to the small screen and won a Golden Globe for her role in Christmas Eve in 1986.

Everyone, except for Henry, is charmed by Dudley, even the non-religious Professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley). Dudley persuades the wealthy parishioners, particularly widowed Agnes Hamilton (Gladys Cooper), to contribute needed funds, but not to build the cathedral. He coaxes Mrs. Hamilton to donate her money to feed and clothe the needy — much to Henry's chagrin. To save time, Dudley also redecorates the Broughams' Christmas tree in a few seconds, saves an old church by restoring interest in the boys' choir, and dictates to a typewriter to magically produce Henry's new sermon — without Henry's knowledge.

Monty Woolley American stage, film, radio, and television actor

Edgar Montilion "Monty" Woolley was an American actor. At the age of 50, he achieved a measure of stardom for his best-known role in the stage play and 1942 film The Man Who Came to Dinner. His distinctive white beard was his trademark and he was affectionately known as "The Beard."

Gladys Cooper British actress

Dame Gladys Constance Cooper, was an English actress whose career spanned seven decades on stage, in films and on television.

Typewriter machine for writing in characters

A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters similar to those produced by printer's movable type. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and pressing one causes a different single character to be produced on the paper, by causing a ribbon with dried ink to be struck against the paper by a type element similar to the sorts used in movable type letterpress printing. Commonly, a separate type element corresponds to each key, but the mechanism may also use a single type element with a different portion of it used for each possible character. At the end of the nineteenth century, the term typewriter was also applied to a person who used a typing machine.

When Dudley spends time cheering up Julia, though, an unexpected development occurs: Dudley finds himself strongly attracted to her. Sensing this, Henry becomes jealous and anxious for his unwelcome guest to finish and depart. He reveals Dudley's true identity to Professor Wutheridge, who urges him to stand up and fight for the woman he loves.

Dudley indicates a willingness to stay, but Julia, sensing what he means, tells Dudley it is time for him to leave. Dudley tells the bishop it is rare for an angel to envy a mortal. Henry wants to know why his cathedral plans were derailed. Dudley reminds the bishop he prayed for guidance, not a building.

With his mission completed and knowing that Julia loves her husband, Dudley leaves, promising never to return. All memory of him is erased, and later that Christmas Eve at midnight, Henry delivers the sermon that he believes he has written. Dudley observes from the street, satisfied that his work is done.

Christmas Eve Evening or entire day before Christmas Day

Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and Western society.

Cast

Niven was originally cast as the angel, Dana Andrews as the bishop, and Teresa Wright as his wife. However, Wright had to bow out due to pregnancy. According to Robert Osborne, Andrews was lent to RKO in order to obtain Loretta Young. Koster then brought in Cary Grant, but he wanted to play the angel, so the role of the bishop was given to Niven. Although not stated and not critical to understand the story, the denomination is probably Episcopal since this Church alone among those classified as Protestant has married bishops and cathedrals.

Production

In markets where the original title was kept, the posters had a black text box added The Bishop's Wife poster with textbox.jpg
In markets where the original title was kept, the posters had a black text box added
In some US markets, the film was retitled "Cary and the Bishop's Wife" Cary and the Bishop's Wife poster.jpg
In some US markets, the film was retitled "Cary and the Bishop's Wife"

Production was not without troubles. Producer Samuel Goldwyn replaced director William A. Seiter with Henry Koster to create a completely new film. In early previews, audiences disliked the film, so Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett made uncredited rewrites. Even so, and even though the premiere of The Bishop's Wife was accompanied by critical success, the film didn't do very well at the box office at first. Market research showed that moviegoers avoided the film because they thought it was religious. So, Goldwyn decided to re-title it Cary and the Bishop's Wife for some US markets, while adding a black text box with the question "Have you heard about CARY AND THE BISHOP'S WIFE?" on posters in markets where the film kept the original title. By adding Grant's first name to the title the film's business increased by as much as 25 per cent. [3] [4]

Location filming was done in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [5] In the scene in which Dudley conducts the boys' choir, the Charles Gounod composition 'Noël: Montez à Dieu' ('O Sing to God') was performed by the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir. [6] The song "Lost April" featured in the film had lyrics written for it by Nat King Cole, who also recorded it.

Awards and honors

The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound (Gordon E. Sawyer), and was nominated for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Picture. [7]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Adaptations to other media

The Bishop's Wife was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the March 1, 1948 broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven in their original film roles. It was also presented on Lux Radio Theater three times as an hour-long broadcast: first on December 19, 1949, with Tyrone Power and David Niven, second on May 11, 1953, with Cary Grant and Phyllis Thaxter [10] and third on March 1, 1955, again with Grant and Thaxter.

The soundtrack has been released on compact disc. [11]

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References

  1. 1 2 "The Bishop's Wife: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved May 8, 2014.
  2. "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46
  3. 1 2 The Saturday Evening Post, February 19, 1949; page 22: How Grant Took Hollywood Linked December 24, 2013
  4. Peter E. Dans: Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners, page 93 Linked December 24, 2013
  5. Filming locations for The Bishop's Wife at the Internet Movie Database
  6. Boys' Choir scene from The Bishop's Wife on YouTube
  7. "The 20th Academy Awards (1948) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  8. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  9. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  10. Kirby, Walter (May 10, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved June 27, 2015 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. "The Bishop's Wife (1947)". SoundtrackInfo. Retrieved October 10, 2009.

Streaming audio