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Dorothy Kilgallen Selects “The Bishop’s Wife”

As a normal member of the female population, I always have considered Cary Grant “divine” in the colloquial sense of the word, but I must confess it never occurred to me that he would make a splendid angel.

It did occur to the astute Samuel Goldwyn, however, and the result is The Bishop’s Wife—as tender, humorous, intelligent and heart-warming a picture as you may hope to see in many a Hollywood moon.

In fact, only my morbid familiarity with the workings of editors’ minds restrains me from just writing “The Bishop’s Wife is a wonderful picture” one hundred times and letting it go at that. For there, in seven words, is the literal truth about a film that not only delights but inspires, and cannot fail to remind millions of people in this tired age that the Golden Rule as a way of life is dated, perhaps, but infinitely desirable.

In the simple story, adapted with taste and economy by Robert E. Sherwood and Leonardo Bercovici from Robert Nathan’s novel, Cary Grant. plays Dudley, an unorthodox but captivating angel who appears in a set of brilliantly tailored mufti on the streets of an American city and performs deeds of helpfulness and charity ranging from the merely Boy Scout to the truly miraculous.

His great good deed is accomplished when he responds to the prayer of an earnest but temporarily over-worldly young bishop (played by David Niven) and after irritating him considerably, brings him back to the realization that Heaven is served in slums as well as in great cathedrals, and that comforting the poor often is more rewarding than impressing the rich. Dudley is assisted in this reformation by the bishop’s wife (Loretta Young), a creature so kind, unselfish and genuinely virtuous that she makes an admirable aide for an angel.

It is a long time since a movie has dared to exhibit such a faultless heroine; she could easily have turned into a caricature of Pollyanna or an annoyance to every other female in the audience. But Loretta Young plays the part with feeling, sincerity and a’ commendable lack of glamor in the false-eyelashes sense of the word, with the result that it comes off beautifully.

The entire cast is fine—David Niven, who is properly harassed but charming, Monty Woolley who is a joy, the ever-competent Gladys Cooper and the always satisfying James Gleason.

And that Cary Grant! He is not only more attractive-looking than ever before, if possible, but he is guilty of some of the most brilliant acting of the year in The Bishop’s Wife (such timing! such a sure sense of comedy!) and I hereby sentence lim to an Academy Award.

I have no complaints about my own guardian angel, whom I have never seen. Quite the contrary—he has been remarkably efficient in getting me across streets, keeping airplanes containing me in the air, and getting me out of various types of hot water. But if he looks like Dudley, I certainly wish he’d materialize. And if he hovers over me while I sleep, I go to bed with makeup on—starting tonight!




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