We Wish You a Cary Christmas: Favorite Things About… The Bishop’s Wife

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with TMP’s favorite actor, Cary Grant? Today we’ve got a special holiday edition of the “Favorite Things About Favorite Films” series, featuring The Bishop’s Wife. Happy holidays from TMP!

The favorite film:
The Bishop’s Wife, a 1947 holiday comedy directed by Henry Koster

The synopsis:
Henry Brougham is an episcopalian bishop who hopes to build a new cathedral. Struggling to raise money for the project, he prays for a little help from above. An angel named Dudley is sent to help him… but Dudley’s mission revolves around repairing Henry’s strained relationship with his wife and daughter, rather than around fundraising.

(Image via Pikitia Press)

(Image via Pikitia Press)

The cast:
Cary Grant as Dudley
David Niven as Henry Brougham
Loretta Young as Julia Brougham
Karolyn Grimes as Debby Brougham
Monty Woolley as Professor Wutheridge
Elsa Lanchester as Matilda

Fun facts:

  • Cary Grant was initially cast as the bishop, and David Niven as the angel. New director Henry Koster, replacing William A. Seiter, switched them after shooting began and he realized they were in the wrong roles.
  • Grant was reluctant to take on the role of Dudley when Koster suggested the switch-up. The role has gone on to become one of his most beloved, and the film is regarded as a Christmas classic.
  • Teresa Wright was initially cast in the role of the bishop’s wife, but later dropped out of the film because she was pregnant, leading Loretta Young to take over the role on loan to Samuel Goldwyn from RKO.
  • The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, taking home one of the trophies, for Best Sound.
  • The film was adapted for radio numerous times, once with Grant, Young and Niven all reprising their roles.
  • Remade as The Preacher’s Wife, starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, in 1996.
  • Based on the novel of the same title by Robert Nathan.

Favorite things:

  • Angel Cary helping blind men cross the street, saving runaway babies from certain death… just another day in the neighborhood.
  • Professor Wutheridge carrying on a conversation with Dudley, only to admit to the cop that he has no idea who Dudley is.
  • CUTE PUPPY (very large puppy) BONUS
  • Henry’s disbelief when he meets Dudley for the first time (and all of the bookshelves in the room where they meet!)
  • Elsa Lanchester as Matilda the maid — such a great casting choice, and I love how wide-eyed she is around Dudley!
  • “Why, my old friend the professor!”
  • Dudley filling the glasses with MAGIC
  • “But you know, that’s the way it always is. Angels come down and put ideas into people’s heads, and then people feel very proud of themselves because they think it was all their own idea!”
  • Dudley’s ultra-professional and fancy ice skating skills
  • “He’s incompetent. He’s no good at his job, and I can’t stand the sight of him!”
  • Dudley crafting the sermon (complete with wonderful typewriter sounds)
  • More magic — with the swing of his arms, Dudley decorates a tree!
  • Henry angrily throwing his coat, getting ready to throw down with Dudley
  • The final scene

(The list of favorites is kind of short for this film, not because I love it any less than previous featured favorites, but because it’s a film that impresses more as a whole, with its charm and heartwarming mood, than with individual stand-out scenes.)

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