The Bells of St. Mary's
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It's rare when a sequel does as well, commercially or critically, as its predecessor. One of those rarities was the sequel to the phenomenally successful Going My Way (1944), The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). Going My Way won seven Academy Awards; The Bells of St. Mary's was nominated for eight, though it only won one, for Best Sound. However, it made more money than Going My Way, and was not only 1945's biggest-grossing film, but was third on the list of all-time moneymakers to date, behind Gone With the Wind (1939) and This Is the Army(1943).
The Bells of St. Mary's tells the further adventures of Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby) as he moves to a new parish, tangles with Sister Benedict (a beatific Ingrid Bergman) and ultimately forges a friendship with her. Along the way, songs are sung, heartstrings are tugged, Father O'Malley charms an old codger into giving the church money for a new school, and Sister Benedict teaches a boy how to box. It's sentimental hokum of the highest caliber, thanks to the performances of Crosby and Bergman, and the expert guidance of producer-director Leo McCarey.
After several serious dramatic performances, Bergman wanted to prove her versatility by playing a nun, and coaxed a reluctant David O. Selznick -- who had her under contract -- to loan her out. Bergman researched her role by visiting a convent and meeting Leo McCarey's aunt, the nun who was the inspiration for Sister Benedict.
The filming was pleasant and relaxed, and became even more so early in the production, when the Academy Awards for 1944 were handed out. Crosby and McCarey were both nominated for Going My Way, and Bergman was nominated for Best Actress for Gaslight. On Oscar® Night, McCarey won; then Crosby won. Finally, Bergman won. Accepting the award, she said "I'm particularly glad to get it this time because tomorrow I go to work in a picture with Mr. Crosby and Mr. McCarey, and I'm afraid that if I went on the set without an award, neither of them would speak to me!"
Producer/Director: Leo McCarey
Screenplay: Dudley Nichols, Leo McCarey (story)
Cinematography: George Barnes
Costume Design: Edith Head
Film Editing: Harry Marker
Original Music: Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen, Robert Emmett Dolan
Cast: Bing Crosby (Father Chuck), Ingrid Bergman (Sister Benedict), Henry Travers (Horace P. Bogardus), William Gargan (Patsy's father), Ruth Donnelly (Sister Michael), Una O'Connor (Mrs. Breen), Rhys Williams (Dr. McKay).
BW-127m Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri