BALDWIN: Angelic assistance in ‘The Bishop’s Wife’

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Peace, good will and happiness for you this Christmas my holly jolly cinephiles of Winchester!

This time of year is one of reflection for many. Memories flood from our youth, loved ones which have passed on and dreams that were left out in the cold like a forgotten pet as adulthood demanded your undivided attention.

These attentions are obligatory by society’s standards to stress yourself to the top, consume, become comfortable with debt and live to work rather than work to live.

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We are told to hustle, put in the extra hours. That is the way to get real satisfaction, and don’t forget to post it for your fix of dopamine when you receive a like on “Fakebook.”

This need to succeed at all costs and be driven to keep your eye on the prize comes at a price.

This focus on a goal rather than the loved ones who are to be cherished is part of the Oscar-winning Christmas classic, “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947).

“The Bishop’s Wife” is the popular comedy drama that shines a light on distraught but determined Bishop Henry Brougham, played by David “The Pink Panther” Niven, who is finding difficulty raising money to build his cathedral.

This man of faith prays for guidance as to what his next steps are to be in his pursuit to build an opulent house for the Lord.

The Lord hears the request and sends the prankster of an angel, Dudley, portrayed by Cary “Arsenic and Old Lace” Grant, who annoys the bishop and becomes the man of cloth’s efficient assistant as he charms the rest of the town.

The Bishop is so focused on his goal to build his cathedral that he is slow to realize that Dudley was not sent to assist with the raising of funds to construct a new abode for his parish, but rather to raise awareness that he is straining the relationship with his wife, Julia, played by Loretta “The Farmer’s Daughter” Young, and daughter Debby, played by Karolyn “It’s a Wonderful Life” Grimes.

Henry has become blind to his ambition in the name of the Lord, isolating the family in his own house who have supported him with unconditional love as he pursued to fulfill his legacy for raising another house in the name of the Lord, all the while failing to abide by God’s Laws as to what is expected by a husband and father.

“The Bishop’s Wife” was directed by Henry “Harvey” Koster with a screenplay by Leonardo “The Lost Moment” Bercovici and Robert E. “Rebecca” Sherwood adapted by the 1928 Robert Nathan of the same title.

Upon its release, it was a box office smash lauded by critics and audiences alike sending this popular story onto the radio for dramatized plays with the original cast several times from 1948 to 1955 with much success. 1996 saw a remake titled “The Preacher’s Wife,” which starred Denzel “Man of Fire” Washington, Whitney “The Bodyguard” Houston and Courtney B. “Beyond the Law” Vance to warm reviews.

“The Bishop’s Wife” is a wholesome film that is a funny, genuine and thought-provoking tale that will leave you with a smile and warm your heart on a cold winter night.

If you are like the Grinch and your heart is two sizes too small, then the ease and charm that Cary Grant exudes effortlessly on the silver screen is sure to please.

By the way, don’t be The Grinch or Scrooge.

Life is not perfect, and you can’t always get everything you desire in your pursuit for happiness and personal satisfaction. If you have a spouse and your children, then you are a rich person already.

Take the time to appreciate all the successes and treasures (your family) you do have, rather than pursuing the ones you don’t.

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a film-tastic day!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at