Monday, January 4, 2010

The Bishop’s Wife (1947) Henry Koster, with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven

I counted this as a second viewing even though I’d only previously caught the film in bits and pieces over the years. I think what kept me from diving in fully in the past was the heavy religiosity, the saccharine emotional cue music and the idea that an angel would intercede in the relatively mundane problems of a priest who has lost his sense of priorities. After all, it took near suicide and a slew of personal disasters to bring Clarence from Heaven to save George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. The gravitas-laden emotionalism of the immediate post-war cinema had in just over a year given way to the easygoing pipe-smoking domesticity of Apartment for Peggy, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and this. In any case …Peggy and ...Blandings are better films than The Bishop’s Wife; they have an airiness lacking in the somewhat stilted proceedings here. It’s a fantasy that clods around in lead shoes. The cast, especially Cary Grant, are better than what they’re in, and because of that you sometimes think the thing is better than it is. It looks smashing, beautifully lit and shot by no less than Gregg Toland, working again for Sam Goldwyn who as usual puts the money on the screen. I found it entertaining but rarely as effervescent as it should have been; one wishes for more moments like the one in which Grant as the angel, Dudley, and Loretta Young as the title character take off on a whimsical lark to ice skate with the cracker-barrel taxi driver played by the irrepressible James Gleason, another veteran of the Frank Capra stable. For a brief moment, you think that you, and he, have stepped back into something Capraesque. The idea is a clever one, but the movie never quite persuaded me. Grade: C+

No comments:

Post a Comment