The Bishop’s Wife
Coasting on the success of his searing 1946 drama "The Best Years of our Lives," producer Sam Goldwyn turned the following year to two light-hearted fantasies. Filmed alongside "Best Years...," but released the following year, the Technicolor "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" starred Hollywood's reigning king of comedy, Danny Kaye.
The other was "The Bishop's Wife,"which went on to become a sentimental favorite for many. It boasted an A-list cast including Cary Grant, David Niven and Loretta Young. Niven portrays a straight-laced bishop frustrated in his fundraising efforts for a new cathedral. When he prays for guidance, charismatic angel Grant appears to spearhead his efforts, but, in the process, wins over not only donors, but the jealous Niven's staff and family as well. Looking "heavenly," Cary is his suave self as the mischievous messenger, and it is easy to see how he could fall for the radiant Loretta, at the peak of her beauty in 1947. In a rather thankless part, Niven gives a subtle performance as the curmudgeonly bishop. The top-flight cast is filled out by zany character actors Elsa Lanchester, and Monty Woolley as well as veterans like James Gleason and Gladys Cooper.
Released this month on Blu-ray along with "The Best Years of Our Lives," "The Bishop's Wife" looks terrific in high-def, in a rich, black-and-white print even sharper than that of its illustrious predecessor. As the story unfolds at Christmastime, many of the shots are nicely staged in snowy backdrops; and the wintry night scenes are warmly lit. The theatrical trailer is the only special feature included in Warner Brothers' new edition.
Hardly a masterpiece, "The Bishop's Wife" is a sweet, little film which will provide a charming alternative to holiday viewers in need of a break from "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street."
The Bishop's Wife