There’s an unworldly charm and odd, guiltless solemnity to this Christmas phantasy drama from 1947, present connected rerelease, directed by Henry Koster and starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young. Niven plays the sobersided Bishop Henry Brougham, a decent but present careworn antheral whose overwork has lately caused him to neglect the happiness of his sweet-natured woman Julia (Young) and babe girl Debby (Karolyn Grimes). As the Christmas play approaches, the bishop is becoming a veritable Scrooge, a relation helium efficaciously shares with the affluent widow Mrs Hamilton (Gladys Cooper). She was instrumental successful getting him the bishop’s occupation successful the archetypal place, and is present exhaustingly stringing him on with a committedness to money the gathering of a vainglorious caller cathedral with which the bishop has go wholly obsessed – but lone if it includes a vulgar monument to her precocious husband.
Julia ne'er gets to spot her hubby oregon their aged friends, similar the genial, peppery aged prof (Monty Woolley) who is moving connected his magnum opus astir past Rome. Poor Henry, alert that things are amiss, prays for guidance, and retired of the blue, a beautifully tailored angel descends: Dudley, played with an opaque and unreadable suavity by Grant. Dudley is going to springiness Henry what helium needs, not what helium wants.
Of course, Dudley has a shrewd, intimate cognition of each these people, a small similar Clarence successful It’s a Wonderful Life (or the inspector successful Priestley’s An Inspector Calls). But for me, this does not person the comic exuberance oregon passionateness of James Stewart’s Christmas classical – and I deliberation it is fundamentally due to the fact that it is astir a antheral of the cloth. For each its attractions, the movie is sometimes a spot inhibited and sententious; possibly Hollywood conscionable didn’t privation to beryllium successful immoderate mode irreverent astir a clergyman. The coolly restrained bishop and the enigmatic angel Dudley are successful information not each that dissimilar. It would person been absorbing to spot the casting reversed.
Having said which, the question of Dudley falling successful emotion with Julia is alternatively striking, particularly arsenic the movie declines to acknowledge, astir until the precise end, that determination is so thing scandalous successful the bishop’s woman becoming truthful acquainted with a handsome stranger. Dudley suggests that helium is reasoning of abandoning his angelic vocation successful the origin of quality emotion (a taxable aboriginal taken up by Wim Wenders successful Wings of Desire), which volition mean breaking up a marriage. His quality becomes perchance sadder, adjacent tragic. But Grant does not emote immoderate much than usual.
Well, determination is simply a batch that’s beguiling successful this fey and wayward portion with its precise theatrical drafting country scenes. The skating series is simply a small gem. It’s classical yuletide comfortableness food.