"The Power of Prayer"
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THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S is a sequel to Bing Crosby’s GOING MY WAY of 1944. Like its predecessor, it was a top box office hit. THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S has humor, music, and drama. It’s also one of Ingrid Bergman’s best performances as Sister Mary. THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S is well worth watching with your family as a healthy bit of American movie memorabilia.
(CCC, BBB, CapCap, D, M) Very strong Christian, moral worldview in a Catholic context with God and God’s will central to the lives of the main characters and some of the best examples of serious prayer in a motion picture, plus strong capitalist elements showing divine purpose; no foul language; two school yard fights with the second leading to forgiveness and friendship after Catholic nun teaches boy how to box; no sex or nudity; no alcohol; some smoking typical of 1940s movies; and, some dishonesty.
A sequel to GOING MY WAY, which was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1945, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S is one of the most unabashedly delightful Christian movies ever made. Starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, faith and answered prayer are the very heart of the movie.
The movie opens with Father O’Malley (Crosby) arriving to be pastor of St. Mary’s, which includes a school run by Sister Mary Benedict (Bergman). The two don’t see eye-to-eye on many decisions, but they show great respect for one another. The dilapidated school is threatened with being condemned by City Council Chairman Horace Bogardus (Henry Travers, who played Clarence in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE). Bogardus wants the school property as a parking lot for his new building next door. The nuns are praying that the grumpy Mr. Bogardus will give them his new building as a new home for the school.
THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S has humor, music, and drama. While not actually a musical, Crosby does manage to sing some songs.
One scene of prayer is one of the best in the history of motion pictures. A character who apparently has good reason to be angry and bitter prays while in tears, “Please help me, Dear Lord, remove all bitterness from my heart. Please help me to see thy holy will in all things. Please, please help me.” She’s required to act, in faith, without bitterness, before God shows her how she misunderstood something and that the bitterness was uncalled for in the first place.
THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S was the top box office hit of 1945 and one of Bing Crosby’s most successful movies. It’s actually the first sequel to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. In fact, though Crosby had already won the Oscar for his performance in the first movie, GOING MY WAY, he was nominated again the next year for his performance in THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S. An interesting trivia fact is that Director Leo McCarey actually had written the first draft to BELLS OF ST. MARY’S first, in honor of a nun he knew.
To this day, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY’S remains one of the favorite classics movies from the 1940s. It’s well worth watching with your family as a healthy bit of American movie memorabilia.
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