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Tricia's retro film review: The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

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The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)


The Bells of St. Mary’s is the 1945 drama starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. Father O’Malley is the new priest at St. Mary’s who sometimes disagrees with Sister Benedict teaching methods. The school is in danger of being shut down. They also have to deal with new student Patsy who has a single mom and is not doing well in school because of troubles at home. Horace Bogardus decides to give them the building but Sister Mary contracts early stage TB. Will she be able to cope with having to leave the school?

This is a pretty good Catholic movie that shows the positives of the church without getting preachy or judgmental. Also it isn’t that melodramatic, even during emotionally harrowing scenes, preferring a quieter drama usually not found in American films. It’s interesting enough that it never gets boring. While Father O’Malley and Sister Benedict do have their disagreements, they never come to blows. In fact, Sister Benedict ends up taking Father O’Malley’s advice. Patsy’s reasons for deliberately failing are actually plausible. As a poor kid she probably had to live in some pretty shabby apartments, so getting to live in a nice place as St. Mary’s must have come as a shock to her. She was probably so scared of leaving that she’d rather be seen as an idiot rather than looking for a handout. The ending is surprisingly bittersweet as Sister Benedict has to leave for her health. Thankfully it does leave the idea open that she may come back when she’s better. There aren’t very many songs, which is strange since Bing Crosby is famous for his songs. Although he does a good job with the songs he does have. Honolulu film fans may want to rent this film.

More at: Tricia’s Retro Film Reviews

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