Bells of St. Mary's" on DVD
Crosby's Still Young
The 1945 sequel to
"Going My Way" sees Bing Crosby reprising his Oscar-winning
role as Father O'Malley, the kind-hearted and easy going New York priest.
This outing sees him
talking up new duties as head of St. Mary's parochial school, a down on
its luck dump of a place that's on its last legs and in danger of being
condemned. It's a fine school at heart, though, with warm and dedicated
teaches led by Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman, in a fine performance).
and his team of nuns manage to save the school - and a few souls - as
the movie unfolds, despite their disagreements over their methods of educating
and disciplining the children in their care.
Leo McCarey's film
is a lovely movie that could have been sappy but which instead is lovable.
Crosby plays the Crosby character we know and love - and, not surprisingly,
does it very well - while Bergman's "Sister Superior" is at
various times gentle, stern, open, stodgy - but always dedicated, kind,
and believable. The actress was nominated for an Oscar for the past, and
won the Golden Globe.
"Bells of St.
Mary's" was actually nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture,
though it only took home the award for Best Sound Recording. It doesn't
matter; Hollywood is often an ass when it comes to bestowing Oscars, and
"The Bells of St. Mary's" is a legitimate classic the whole
family can enjoy (though we can never get our kids to sit through anything
that's in black and white, unfortunately. It's their loss.).
The biggest name supporting
actor is Henry Travers, who would later enter movie history as the angel
Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life." Here, he plays the aging
industrialist who's trying to buy out the school so he can "pave
paradise and put up a parking lot" for his office building - but
when he meets the tag team of Crosby and Bergman he has no idea the rules
have changed and his world is about to be turned upside down.
In the end, he's better
and happier for the experience, as are just about everyone whose life
is touched by Father O'Malley and the nuns of St. Mary's.
The flick is sentimental
to the max, but never sappy - and in the end it's a very satisfying movie
The fullscreen (the
original theatrical aspect ratio) DVD has been digitally remastered and
it looks really good. To see how good, take a look at the theatrical trailer,
which hasn't been remastered, and you'll see the difference. Audio is
Dolby Digital mono - correctly directed to the center front speaker. There's
a decent liner essay inside the package, but other than that and the usual
chapter stops/language choices, there aren't a lot of extras.
Still, "The Bells
of St. Mary's" is a warm and witty movie that's a worthy addition
to the movie lover's DVD collection.
The Bells of St. Mary's,
from Republic Pictures/Alliance Home Video
126 minutes, fullscreen, Dolby Digital mono
Starring Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, with Henry Travers
Story by Leo McCarey, Screenplay by Dudley Nichols,
Produced and Directed by Leo McCarey
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