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Come to the Stable

Come to the Stable(1949)

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One winter's night, two French nuns, Sisters Margaret and Scolastica, come to the small New England town of Bethlehem, where they meet Amelia Potts, a painter of religious pictures. After the Sisters announce that they have come to build a hospital there, Chicago-born Sister Margaret explains that during the war she was in charge of a children's hospital in Normandy when it became a potential target during a military campaign. As many of the children could not be evacuated, Sister Margaret made a personal plea to an American general not to shell the hospital which, the Germans were using as an observation post. The hospital was spared but at the cost of American lives, and Sister Margaret made a promise to God that, in gratitude for saving the children, she would return to America to build a children's hospital there. When Miss Potts is puzzled as to why they chose Bethlehem, Sister Margaret replies that they had received a postcard with a reproduction of a nativity scene painted by Miss Potts, entitled "Come to the Stable," and information about the Bethlehem area. The Sisters then decide that a local hill depicted in another of Miss Pott's paintings would be a good site for the hospital. After composer Bob Mason, who is Miss Potts's neighbor, tells the Sisters that the hill is owned by Luigi Rossi of New York, the Sisters go to see the Bishop in a nearby city. He is unable to help them financially with their project however, but does give them a small amount of money to tide them over. When they return to Bethlehem, Bob's manservant, Anthony James offers them a ride from the railroad station in Bob's jeep. As Sister Margaret learned to drive a jeep during the war, they arrange to borrow the jeep to go to New York City to find Mr. Rossi and ask him to donate his land. Rossi runs a "bookie" operation and, with perseverance, the Sisters manage to see him. After he tells them that he intends to build his retirement home on the site, they prepare to leave, then learn that Rossi's son was killed in action near their hospital in Rouen. Suddenly, Rossi changes his mind and tells them that, if they will install a stained glass window in the hospital in memory of his son, the land is theirs. Later, in Bethlehem, Bob and his girl friend, Kitty Blaine, are listening to a recording of a new song he has composed when the Sisters come to thank him for the use of the jeep. Bob then announces that he will be going to Hollywood for a few weeks to work on a picture. Later, the Sisters acquire for $5,000, a three-month option on a former witch hazel bottling plant opposite the Rossi property, for use as a temporary shelter. However, when the Bishop looks over the papers, he discovers that the purchase price carries a $25,000 mortgage and tells the Sisters he will have to cancel the contract. At that moment, however, eleven more nuns and a chaplain arrive from France, and the Bishop relents, allowing them to stay for the period of the option with the understanding that if they cannot raise the additional money within that time, they must all leave. When Bob returns from Hollywood with Kitty and three house guests, he discovers that the nuns are having a produce-and-arts sale in Miss Potts's yard and Bob insists that she evict all the nuns. On the day before the option is to lapse, the nuns find themselves $500 short of the necessary amount. That evening, after Kitty performs Bob's new song for his guests, they hear the nuns singing a hymn which they recognize as being similar to Bob's song. Concerned about being accused of plagiarism, Bob swears that he first thought of the melody after his Army outfit landed in France four years earlier. Guest Al Newman, a music critic, identifies it as an ancient Gregorian chant. The next morning, after Sisters Margaret and Scolastica accidentally drive a stake through Bob's water line, he visits the real estate agent and arranges to buy the plant in order to keep it out of the nuns's hands. Sister Margaret, meanwhile, discovers Bob's guests playing tennis and arranges a $500 wager if Sister Scolastica can help Al beat the other couple. Although Sister Scolastica is a former tennis champion, she loses the match. Later, after Sister Margaret tells the Sisters that they must leave, Bob eavesdrops on their prayers and discovers that their Mother House is in Normandy, near where he was stationed. When the Sisters ask him to pray for them, Bob is moved to change his mind about their project, and soon he, Kitty, Miss Potts, Mr. Rossi and the Bishop attend the dedication of the temporary home of the hospital of St. Jude.