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The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 7,006

My Rating

Movie Info

In this follow-up to director Leo McCarey's Going My Way (1944), Bing Crosby repeats his Oscar-winning characterization of happy-go-lucky priest Father O'Malley. The good father is sent to help out financially strapped St. Mary's Academy, a parochial school presided over by lovely nun Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). The film is constructed in anecdotal fashion: Nun and priest gently quarrel over teaching methods; they help patch up the tottering marriage of William Gargan and Martha Sleeper;


Drama, Kids & Family, Classics, Comedy

Leo McCarey, Dudley Nichols

Sep 23, 2003

RKO Radio Pictures

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All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (1) | DVD (4)

As Sister Benedict, Ingrid Bergman manages to combine beauty, great good humor and saintly dignity even while swinging a baseball bat.

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Bergman's] clashes with Crosby...are moments that will have an audience alternately laughing and sniffling.

July 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rambling [and] embarrassingly winsome...

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Seldom has a sequel so completely transcended its predecessor.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The same qualities that make The Bells Of St. Mary's quaint are also the qualities that make it, if not great, then at least solidly entertaining.

November 19, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Though the various irregular pieces of this movie make it one of McCarey's least satisfying movies on an artistic level, it's totally understandable as to why it's his most popular.

January 21, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

A classic of faith and values.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Before singing nuns, there were singing priests, such as Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley in Leo McCarey's charming sequel that's better (and was more popular at the box-office) than the original, the 1944 Oscar-winner Going My Way.

February 12, 2008 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Only a nitch less entertaining than 'Going My Way,' but Ingrid Bergman's nun helps in the balance.

January 1, 2008

Winsome and highly commercial sequel to Going My Way.

March 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Touchingly sentimental, but strong in all the right places.

December 4, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Good cast, good direction, but not near its parent film.

November 5, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Dripping with sentiment, but who cares when you've got Bergman as the singing nun?

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for The Bells of St. Mary's

A priest and a nun run a struggling school and try to convince a businessman to give them a neighboring building.
I don't see much conflict between the two main characters. Their differences are pedestrian, and the few differences that wind up as plot points aren't all that compelling. In fact, I was uncomfortable with the film's approval of Father O'Malley's handling of a schoolyard fight; he declares a bully "the winner" of a fight, and the "loser," a boy who did nothing to start the fight, ends up getting pugilism lessons from a nun. The episode is meant to accentuate O'Malley's worldliness, but shouldn't priests - at the very least - not embrace violence? O'Malley's attitude not only belies verisimilitude; it makes the character less appealing.
I've always liked Ingrid Bergman, but there's not a lot to this character for such a great actress to sink her teeth into. Bing Crosby has the voice of God even though the situations that allow his character to sing feel contrived.
Overall, I have trouble understanding why this film gets universal accolades because a lot of the film didn't work for me.
August 15, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

This is the story of an easy going priest and a firm nun who try to put their differences aside in order to save a financially strapped parochial school from closing due to the hardheartedness of a stuffy businessman who has the building's mortgage.

The story isn't really anything new or original, but it's still pretty decently done. It's actually rather loose plotwise, and is very episodic in nature, often being playing fast and loose with the timeline. The script could have been a tad stronger, but this is made up by some decent direction, good cinematogrpahy, and some wonderful performances.

Bing Crosby is the type of guy who you really can't find a reason to hate. He's just too damn nice and loveable. Same goes for his character. He plays the type of priest I'd love to hang out with in real life. He's easy going and fun, but he's also got hius heart in the right place, and really cares. Ingrid Bergman is too attractive to be a realistic nun, but her performance is terrific, and she's (looks aside) convincing as the stern nun who begins to soften and become more understanding. Henry Travers is also good, if slightly underused as the old fudddyduddy businessman.

I'm fine with having several different plotlines going on, I just wish that the main one wasn't introduced, then mostly shelved for a while before making an appearance again. More balance with the stories would have made for a more focused and tighter film. That aside, this one's pretty solid.

All in all, this is a difficult film to not enjoy. It's got a bit of everything: comedy, drama, singing, stories of hope, redemption, forgiveness, and a heavy coating of charm and innocence. I'm not sure if I just really like or possibly even love it. I'll just be fair and give it at least a 4. I definitely recommend giving this a watch though.
November 27, 2011
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

A very nice movie (sequel to Going My Way) with Crosby as a priest again helping Bergman, a nun, and her school. It's not just a drama with Crosby singing his songs, it's also pretty funny. It's enjoyable for the whole family.
October 18, 2010

Super Reviewer

Oh no strike me down! Not a lowly two stars for the Bells of St. Mary's!! I'm afraid that I find Bing's films to be all a little too corny and dated these days. I wish people would be sentimental about other films.
August 26, 2007
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) (DE)
  • The Bells of St. Mary's (UK)
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