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Holiday Marathon 2021 - The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

Christmas movies are a pretty big blind spot for me, so here’s to a whole month of getting smothered with the Christmas spirit with some of the best in the genre.

Seeing an actor as esteemed as Ingrid Bergman in a sincere, borderline maudlin movie like Bells of St. Mary’s is like seeing someone like Meryl Streep in a Hallmark movie. Not that I’m complaining. Bergman really commits to her role as Sister Superior Mary Benedict. She is able to play the lightness that is needed for someone who teaches a picked-on kid how to box but also the sternness required to tell a girl that she has failed despite her best efforts. Otherwise, this movie is pretty corny. A prickly old businessman encouraged to find the meaning of Christian charity at the entreaty of the nuns and the head priest Father O’Malley (a smooth, worldly Bing Crosby) is only going to end in one way, but there’s enough warmness that both Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman exude to make a viewer forgive the story’s predictability. Crosby’s character does get a bit annoying at being a little too smug in his superior knowledge, but the film at least acknowledges that with how Bergman’s character reacts to him and that she doesn’t come off as some inflexible martinet, even when she has to be stern. Still, Bells of St. Mary’s will give you the warm fuzzies by the end, especially as both Father O’ Malley and Sister Mary better understand each other.

Holiday Spirit Quotient: 8 out of 10 frankincense. The pageant with the littlest children where they sing Happy Birthday to Jesus is just all kinds of adorable.


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