Directed by Leo McCarey
Starring: Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers
In 1945 this film earned 8 Oscar nominations including one for Best Picture. The two stars, Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman were also given nominations for their performances. The film was directed by Leo McCarey who won Oscars for Going My Way and The Awful Truth. He was also behind the camera for Love Affair and An Affair to Remember. He co-wrote The Bells of Saint Mary’s which also earned him a nomination for Best Director. The film, based on inflation, would go on to be the 50th highest grossing film of all-time. Henry Travers is also featured in this film. He was an essential part of another holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.
The Bells of Saint Mary’s is the story of a young priest, Father O’Malley (Crosby) who is sent to take over as the head of an inner-city Catholic school. When he arrives he’s met with a friendly rivalry from Sister Mary Benedict (Bergman). The two of them clash over their methods but share a desire to make the school a better place. As they work through the holiday season they find themselves in a bind over the condition of the school. The rivalry becomes a partnership as they find a solution to the school’s problems within reach. The solution lies with the heart of their wealthy neighbor Horace Bogardus (Travers).
Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman pair up wonderfully in this classic film. It wouldn’t be a film with Crosby if it didn’t have musical moments with his amazing vocal talents. He manages to play his role with the right amount of wit and humor. This was another example of a signature happy-go-luck role he would be known for.
Bergman is also incredible. Her versatility allows her to range from stern to funny throughout the film. This talent is no surprise from a woman with three Oscars and four more nominations for Best Actor. In the film’s most emotional moments she shines on the screen.
This is a film for the whole family. There is the right amount of drama and comedy used throughout. It results in a film that has lasted more than six decades and continues to be seen as a classic. I give this film 4.2 out of 5 stars.