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The Bells of St. Mary's Reviews

Page 1 of 12

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2012
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.

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2011
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.

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
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.
John B

Super Reviewer

August 26, 2007
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.
Donna D

Super Reviewer

December 2, 2007
Great movie with Ingrid Bergman and Bing Cosby. Funny and charming, the movie is a wonderful classic.
November 21, 2013
Despite being touted as a Christmas movie, there is really only one scene that takes place around the holiday, the majority of the film takes place over the course of a year. Bing Crosby's Father O'Malley (from "Going My Way") returns, this time taking over a parochial school and clashing styles this time with the head Nun instead of an aging priest. This was a better film than "Going My Way" in my opinion, as I felt that was a tad overrated. This is a decent film, that's slightly less sentimental, and a little more charming. Highlights include a nun teaching a kid to box, and the relationship between Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. I wouldn't say this is a Christmas movie, like it is so often hailed, but it is a solid film fro mthe Golden Age of Hollywood.
May 26, 2013
"The Bells of St. Mary's" is a classic but it didn't really grab my attention. It is a good movie but by today's standards, I don't think that it was worthy of 8 Oscar nominations, especially Best Picture. Ingrid Bergman was wonderful as Sister Benedict and absolutely earned her nomination. But I didn't see much in Bing Crosby (especially since he had already won an Oscar for that role in a previous film). The characters were well-written and the story was interesting, but moments like that awkward Christmas pageant detract from the quality of the film. It was very interesting to see Henry Travers (Clarence from "It's A Wonderful Life") playing a bad guy, although I was glad that he still have a few of those lovable dimwitted moments. The fighting lesson was heartwarming and the ending is unexpected (in a great way). "The Bells of St. Mary's" isn't a bad film but it is just sort of average.
October 23, 2012
Syrupy sweet, but fun to watch so that we can see how things were treated in 1945. The Pledge of Allegiance does not have "Under God" in it! It was OK for boys to fight each other, and it was also OK to not tell people their health situation. And the Man was always right. Wow.
July 21, 2012
I couldn't watch the end of it, as it started to increasingly devolve into sap and improbable scenarios. There were a few cute lines, but on the whole it was pretty lame.

Also having just watched the French version of the Count of Monte Cristo, where the characters are so multidimensional, I had a hard time caring about the goody two shoes characters in this film. It's not that the characters didn't have minor defects, but no defects that were particularly interesting or which moved the plot forward.
April 19, 2007
Unforgetable classic. A must watch every year. They just dont make them like these anymore and its a shame.
January 14, 2008
I saw this for the first time this weekend. It was touching. Not much of a true storyline, a bit unrealistic as most movies are, and a little long, but a beautifully acted and directed film
December 9, 2007
This really isn't one movie. I mean, it's not like it is composed of vignettes or anything, but the main plot just doesn't exist. Really, this is subplots, the movie. And you know what? I really don't care. (Too much...) The weird thing is that there is no over-arching conflict except the fact that the two main characters don't agree on a lot. It's not like they dislike each other, but they simply have differentiating teaching styles. That's the throughline. I know...pretty weak, eh? Who cares? It's Christmas. (At least in one scene.)

Now I'm going to point out the epiphany that I had during this movie. I am crazy forgiving for corniness in older movies. Maybe because the movie's overall mood allows for some really cheeseball moments to come off as heartwarming. I giggled like a schoolgirl when I saw the first grade Christmas play. But if I saw that in Cheaper by the Dozen 3? I would swear at the screen violently. It's probably because contemporary movies are so dependent on low-brow silliness that cornball moments just seem out of place. Anywa,y there are ton of cornball moments in The Bells of St. Mary's, but that's really okay. There's some really touching stuff in something that is basically a light character study.

Now, I am really wondering why this movie is considered a Christmas film. Yes, one very important scene takes place during Christmas, but it is not about this scene by any means. Heck, if you took out the Christmas scene, the film wouldn't change all that much. That scene is one among many "fun scenes". Also, I found this movie unusally touching considering it had oh-so-little actual structure. It seemed to be full of substance. Perhaps I should classify this under meatloaf movies. But that makes it seem like a Hallmark movie and, by no means, is it a Hallmark movie. Maybe this can be safely categorized as gourmet meatloaf.

Man, that sounds good. Anyway, it's got a bit of a long runtime and has very little actual conflict in the story, but if you just want a heartwarming solid time, enjoy this one.
January 5, 2007
Just imagine! There was a time when movie-makers didn't feel compelled to be cynical. Gentle and cheerful, but not naive.
December 27, 2006
Don't judge this book by it's cover. Subtle and bittersweet without getting too sentimental. Remember it's Bergman and Bing. They're pretty good actors, you know.
July 5, 2014
So charming and sweet, but not quite as good as Going MyWay
Connor G.
February 14, 2014
Really a very excellent and touching film, much better than Going My Way.
January 10, 2014
The Bells of St . Mary's is an excellent film. It is about Father O'Malley and Sister Benedict who indulge in friendly rivalry, and succeed in extending the school through the gift of a building in a big Catholic city. Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman give amazing performances. The screenplay is well written. Leo McCarey did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and humor. The Bells of St. Mary's is a must see.
December 20, 2012
Mr. Crosby makes a great Catholic Priest! :)
July 13, 2012
Although I have no idea why it is considered a Christmas film since Christmas was only in it for like 5 minutes, it is still a nice old hollywood classic.
January 9, 2012
A warm, nostalgic picture with a strong performance from Bergman.
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