After a long gap, Loretta Young (The Bishop’s Wife) is sharing the screen space with Cary Grant (Dudley). To be precise, their last movie together was Born to be bad released in 1934. David Niven plays the role of a bishop whose role is mainly limited to ambiguity between the funds for the new cathedral, family and his principles.
Why is this movie special? Is it because, it has Cary Grant playing one of the most refreshing roles of his life?
Cary Grant in his role as Dudley plays the character of an angel. An angel who sometimes resembles our inner voice. In this chaotic world, one hardly listens to our inner voice; since its an opinion or a thought restricted to ourselves. But when a feel good thought comes as a suggestion from others, we normally pick it up and on a higher percentage scale apply them. In short, people who are optimistic about lives listen to such suggestions and go about leading their lives catalysed by such thoughts or ideas.
Even if it is for a short time, it is the jump start one needs to refresh and get out of cross roads. Professor, The bishop’s wife, Mrs Hamilton and few others are the ones who had lost hopes in their respective lives and the same were restored by an angel. Dudley says, “Angel can be anyone on the street. Someone you dont know but can bring in a lot of change in the way we would like to lead our lives.”
The other side of the coin, cynicism exists as displayed by the Bishop, who refuses to believe in miracles, though being the mortal messenger of the almighty. He was so adamant in building the cathedral, he even went to the extent of compromising his principles to raise the funds.
His true prayers (raising funds) were finally answered; though not in a way he wanted. But who would question the method of an angel? He certainly did, but did’nt succeed to over power the methods. Dudley, the angel spends most of his time with Julia, the Bishop’s wife and their kid Debby, yet manages to answer the prayers of the Bishop. Strange method indeed. The problem of funds were never looked in, and this movie epitomises the true human nature emphasising the importance to win over someone’s heart in order to get what we truely want. Dudley won the heart of Mrs Hamilton, who finally relented to the angel’s advice and decided to shed her ego. Donating her money, she helps the Bishop to build his dream, the cathedral, a place which would provide shelter to the needy.
Dudley had to leave once the prayers were answered but it was tough as he was attached to bishop’s wife, cursed himself for being an angel; as he realised being an immortal it was impossible to beat a mortal to win over a mortal’s heart.
Directed by Henry Koster, this 1947 movie was nominated in five different categories including Best Picture and it did manage to win one for the Best Sound Recording.
This is a story of George Bailey (James Stewart) and his altruism. He always dreamt of traveling places. However, due to his sudden death of his father, his plans had to take a back step, instead he takes over his father’s loan and building company. Mr. Potter’s (Lionel Barrymore) malicious intentions are always cut short by Bailey’s love and affection for his town and the people.
His years of goodwill ensured, an angel named Clarence who wants to earn his wings comes to earth. He shows Bailey how his town was if he hadn’t been born. The town would have been in shambles under Potter’s reign. His family members are either dead or led a life of misery.
This probably made Bailey understand the positive impact he had on people’s lives and did re-consider his suicide and also realize what a wonderful life he has had. He did want his life back and more than ever, he wanted to live again.
This was the first movie I had seen of James Stewart and also that of Frank Capra. This was starring debut for Donna Reed who plays Mary Bailey.
Movie has many claims, and is widely rated as one of the top films never to have won Best Picture Oscar only behind Shawshank Redemption. On technical front, this film did innovate a unique method of creating snowfall.
Released in 1947, this movie will go down as one of all time classics not to have won any Oscar.
Personally, this movie was one of the first Black ‘N’ White movies I had seen as a college student. It did have a positive impact on my life then. 4 years hence, I still feel the same vibes when I think about this movie.
The Last scene when Bailey’s daughter is very apt looking at the situation he had to deal with the angel.
At his home when party is on, sound from Christmas bells…
Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
George Bailey: That’s right, that’s right. Attaboy, Clarence.