The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945)

LEO MCCAREY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1945.  Rainbow Productions.  Story by Leo McCarey, Screenplay by .   Cinematography by .   Produced by .   Music by .   Production Design by .   Costume Design by .   Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 1945.  Golden Globe Awards 1945.

Sappy, manipulative and wholly engrossing sequel to the equally disarming Going My Way, with Bing Crosby resuming his role as the caring Catholic priest who never shuts up. He has been sent to oversee the running of a parochial school that is falling apart. Once there, his liberal methods (i.e. letting students run hog wild but first forcing them to listen to him sing) meet with dire resistance from the Sister Superior (Ingrid Bergman) until the two of them finally find the middle of the road. The subplots, which include an unhappy little girl from a ‘broken’ home (whose mother will have feminists setting their televisions on fire), the acquiring of a donation from a humbug of a millionaire (Henry Travers) and even the appearance of a near-fatal disease, all threaten to topple over each other as Leo McCarey (writing and directing again after doing the same in the previous film) bites off more than he can at first chew. His reliance on Bergman’s stupendously charismatic personality to counter Crosby’s dull saccharine qualities pays off, however, and he brings the bacon home with plenty of good will and heartwarming feelings for all. It’s a pathetic experience, but it’s also a really nice one. The song selections include the sweet, Oscar-nominated theme song “Aren’t You Glad You’re You”.

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