This beautifully directed 1940's black and white Christmas movie is charming and heartwarming. Church Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) wants to build a new and bigger church in the worst way. He is even willing to kowtow to rich demanding congregation members to get funding. Loretta Young as his lovely and somewhat neglected wife Julia, understands how badly her husband wants his new church but she doesn't want him to forget why he became a Bishop and to remember where his real duties lie. In desperation Henry prays for help and guidance. Help comes to him in form of a handsome, debonair and somewhat irreverent angel named Dudley, played superbly by Cary Grant. Grant arrives and immediately steals the heart of Henry's young daughter as well as the hearts of his secretary, maid and wife. When Henry cancels an appointment to hear young members in his congregation sing, Dudley goes instead. Dudley also encourages Julia to buy a rakish hat she admires, he takes her dining and dancing and wins over the disapproving church members who see them together. It seems that angel Dudley can do no wrong, everyone loves him, except Henry who starts to wonder if Dudley really is an angel and what is his real purpose here. David Niven as the somewhat uptight Bishop was the right choice for this role.
There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie. Dudley magically types letters and stuffs envelopes so Henry's secretary can leave the office early to do Christmas shopping; he decorates the tree that the fluttering maid (a very young Elsa Lanchester) has just started to trim; and he has taxi driver, James Gleason, ice skating like an Olympic champion. When the boys won't let Julia's daughter play catch because she throws like a girl, Dudley steps in to give her a good pitching arm. Monty Woolley as the Professor who suspects that Dudley is a VERY special person is simply wonderful.
This is the perfect story for all faiths.
The Bishop's Wife is available at Amazon.com