“The Bishop’s Wife” (1947) stars Loretta Young, David Niven and Cary Grant in a heart-warming story about an angel who is sent to help a Bishop, his family and all those who are close to him.
“Bishop Henry Broughman” (played by David Niven) thinks he is in need of building an elaborate cathedral in order to preach his sermons. The Bishop’s supposed need for the cathedral is so great he is willing to sacrifice his principles and vision for the cathedral to his richest patron, “Mrs. Hamilton” (played by Gladys Cooper). Whereas Mrs. Hamilton sees nothing but her own standards and demands for the cathedral’s location and her insistence that it be made into a memorial for her late husband. To a further extent, the Bishop’s home life is nothing less than stressful and hostile while the Bishop neglects his wife and daughter. At the sight of all this, the Bishop prays one night. An angel, who goes by the name of "Dudley" (played by Cary Grant) is sent to help him.
While the Bishop is simultaneously trying to disbelieve that Dudley is in fact an angel and continue his plans with the cathedral, Dudley helps the people close to the Bishop. “Julia Brougham” (played by Loretta Young) grows a close bond with Dudley as they ice skate and he treats her to lunch at the restaurant Julia used to go to with her husband. When they visit Professor Wutheridge (played by Monty Wolley), Dudley helps the professor with one of his longstanding pieces of research. When the Bishop finally chooses to believe that Dudley is an angel, Dudley has a few more miracles up his sleeve to help everyone.
Interestingly enough, two actors from the most famous Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946), appears in this film too. You may not recognize her at first but “Debby Brougham” is played by Karolyn Grimes – the little girl who played “ZuZu Bailey.” And in the park scene where Debby wants to join the snow ball fight, the captain is played by child actor Robert J. Anderson who played “Young George Bailey.”
A last word to the wise, skip the 1996 remake titled “The Preacher’s Wife.” The two films are virtually incomparable to one another. “The Bishop’s Wife” has more heart whereas “The Preacher’s Wife” feigned to give any heart at all. “The Bishop’s Wife” not only gives us characters to believe in, the film also gives us a touch of simple wisdom – that all we need is right in front of us all along.
I used my own dvd of "The Bishop's Wife" in order to write this review.