On the 7th day ’til Christmas my blogger gave to me
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
I absolutely love this movie! After all it has Cary Grant! What could be a better Christmas present than that?
So the film starts off with Cary Grant going about the town helping out people, such as a blind man crossing the street. He observes the beautiful Julia Brougham, Loretta Young, eyeing a hat and runs into Professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley). He pretends that the two are old friends and asks him how Julia and her husband, Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) are. The Professor tells them that Henry has no time for anyone these days. He is solely focused on getting money from the wealthy to build a cathedral.
We then switch to the Brougham house. Julia is waiting for Henry to finish his meetings so they can have dinner. Henry is tired and worn out trying to get his cathedral built. A wealthy member of his church, Mrs. Hamilton, will give him all he needs to create it, but only if it is how she wants it built, in memoriam to her late husband. The two are at an impasse as Henry is not willing to sacrifice his principals.
“Bishop Henry Brougham: Mrs Hamilton, this cathedral cannot be designed for the glory of an individual. It has to be created for all the people.”
Mrs. Hamilton doesn’t approve of a speech as that and reminds Henry she has the power to destroy everything he is working for.
“Mrs. Hamilton: You will build that cathedral as I want it or you will not build it at all.”
After everyone leaves, Julia tells Henry how proud she is of him, but Henry is not pleased. He is just more disheartened than ever. Angry with Mrs. Hamilton, he promises to get that money, claiming there are many other rich people in this town. Julia tries to get him to focus on their family and marriage; trying to have him focus on what is truly important. But, Henry just won’t listen. Julia gives him a Roman coin that Professor Wutheridge gave her to give him; but Henry just angrily screams that it is worthless. Henry starts to realize how he is acting and attempts to make amends with Julia. He tries to make plans to go out with Julia the next day for lunch at the restaurant they always used to go to, Michels. Instead he ends up having to go to a luncheon for the church. Henry feels as if he is on the brink and beings to pray.
Suddenly Cary Grant appears in his office.
And tells him he is an angel. Henry is shocked and at first doesn’t believe him, but Dudley, Cary Grant, assures him he is an angel and is just wearing his wings “on the inside”. Julia interrupts their discussion and Dudley introduces himself as Henry’s new assistant. Julia leaves, and Henry and Dudley resume. Dudley tells Henry to take him on faith, and just as he appeared, he disappears.
The next day the bishop is very worried as he can’t seem to get money out of anyone else. Dudley arrives to help, but Henry is not eager to give him any tasks as he is still unsure if Dudley is who he says he is. Julia comes to remind Henry about their date, but Henry has to break the news that he has a luncheon and other meetings. Dudley offers to go, but Henry doesn’t want to send him. Julia is angry at the broken promise, and takes their daughter Debby out; giving their housekeeper the day off. Henry asks Dudley what he will do, and Dudley says he is going to spend the day organizing the office. Henry leaves, and Dudley spends a total of 2 mins organizing; using all his angel powers to finish early. Dudley has decided that to help Henry see what is most important, he is going to make him jealous.
Julia and Debby are in the park, and Debby is sad that the other kids won’t let her join in their snowball fight. Dudley appears out of nowhere and offers to help her. He calls over the boy in charge, (little trivia fact: he’s the same kid who plays young George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life), and tells him that Debby will prove she is a contender. Dudley uses his angel powers to make her a great snowball thrower so that all the kids want to play with her.
He invites Julia to go out for lunch with him, if she thought Michel‘s was a nice place. Julia says she would but that there is no one to watch Debbie as Mathilda is out for the day. Dudley uses his angel magic, and Matilda appears telling Julia she was able to finish all her errands and would be glad to take Debbie with her. With that issue solved the two go off to Michel‘s.
Dudley orders her meal in French, reads her palm, and tells her she is beautiful; giving her the attention she has been starved of these past few years. He also buys her the hat she has been drooling over.
Meanwhile, Henry has come home early to have lunch with his wife, to find her out with Dudley. Henry starts to feel jealous at this and lonely.
While Dudley and Julia are out they run into the Professor.
He invites them over for a drink to celebrate the Christmas spirit. The two go over and discuss the book the Professor is writing. The Professor tells them that the book he has been working on for the past 20 years is nonexistent. He hasn’t been able to write anything as he feels that anything he could has already been done. Dudley gives the Professor back his coin and tells him all about this secret history on the coin. Julius Caesar minted for Cleopatra that were destroyed by Julius’ wife. All except one. The Professor is now inspired to write and eager to start.
Meanwhile back at home Henry is freaking out. His wife and Dudley are late. The help are all won over by Dudley and are preparing a special dessert and dinner for him. Henry is extremely angry with Dudley, but hasn’t quite figured out why.
The next day, Julie is very happy; and Henry noticing this change compliments her. Julia thanks him and reminds him about the St. Timothy choir performance. Henry promises to be there.
Downstairs Dudley is telling is telling Debby a story of about David. He also quotes her the 23rd Psalm. Henry watches them and becomes upset about how Dudley seems to be replacing him with his wife and children.
Henry ends up having to meet with Mrs. Hamilton at the same time as the rehearsal, promising to get to there as soon as he can. Dudley asks to see Mrs. Hamilton, but doesn’t trust him and sends him with his wife instead.
When Henry sees Mrs. Hamilton he promises to fulfill all her demands, and tries to leave. Unbeknownst to him, Dudley used his angel powers to have him stuck in his chair. Butler Stevens and Mrs. Hamilton try to get him out, but can’t.
Over at St. Timothy’s, the reverend is disheartened that only two of the boys choir showed up to the rehearsal. Dudley tells the two to start singing. And soon, all the kids appear.
Henry ends up calling his housekeeper to bring him another pair of pants, as he is still stuck in the chair.
Dudley gets a cab and takes Julia and the cabdriver, Sylvester ice-skating. They all are magically able to do all kinds of flips and turns.
When the two get home, Henry is extremely angry. He starts yelling at Dudley as soon as Julia has left the room.
“Bishop Henry Brougham: You stopped me from joining you!
Dudley: Julia had a very good time.
Bishop Henry Brougham: Well, I didn’t.
Dudley: If you’d sent me to Mrs Hamilton, I would have gone. You didn’t. So I represented you with your wife.”
Henry tells Dudley to leave as his work is competeled. He will have the Cathedral. Dudley tries to show him that there are more important things than a cathedral. There are people out there hurting and starving that could use the cathedral money for that instead. Henry fires him on the stop; praying he will leave. Dudley goes; but to Henry’s disappointment everyone in the house is in dismay that Dudley is gone.
The next day Julia and Henry go off to make all kinds of house calls, ending on Mrs. Hamilton. Right after they leave Dudley comes and magically decorates their Christmas tree.
He also rewrites Henry’s sermon, having the typewriter magically take it down. He then proceeds to Mrs. Hamilton’s place.
He goes to Mrs. Hamilton’s and discovers a secret song composed with love from Allen, although her husband’s name was George. He plays the song on the harp (of course), and Mrs. Hamilton comes down and starts talking to Dudley.
She tells him that she was going to marry Allen, but became afraid because he had no money or job, Allen died shortly after. She married George, but never loved him. After George died, she felt guilty as he really loved her. Since then she’s been building monuments to him. Dudley convinces her to do something more meaningful. When Henry and Julia come; Mrs. Hamilton tells them that she wants all her money to go to charity and to have Henry direct it.
He sends Julia home and goes over to see the Professor. He tells the Professor that Dudley is an angel and has stolen his wife and child. He doesn’t know what to do. The Professor convinces Henry that he has to fight for Julia. Henry is encouraged and takes off for home.
Dudley comes home and speaks to Julia. Julia becomes angry with what Dudley tells her, she doesn’t like how he seems to be hitting on her. She tells him to leave forever, and runs up the stairs. Henry threatens to beat up Dudley as he wants to fight for Julia. Dudley lets him know that his mission is complete and that he is leaving, when he goes no one will remember anything about Dudley.
“Bishop Henry Brougham: I don’t trust you, Dudley.
Dudley: You may, Henry. Because your prayer has been answered.
Bishop Henry Brougham: That’s not true. I was praying for a cathedral.
Dudley: No, Henry. You were praying for guidance. That has been given to you.”
Dudley leaves and Henry runs upstairs to be with his wife and child. He has finally remembered that spending time with family is the most important thing. Julia and Henry leave for the church so he can give his Christmas Eve sermon.
Dudley stops by to listen for a bit before he takes off and returns to heaven.
To start the 12 Posts of Christmas from the beginning, go to On the 12 Day ’til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas
For the previous post, go to On the 8th Day ’til Christmas: Holiday in Handcuffs
For more on The Bishop’s Wife, go to the 25 Films of Christmas
For more on Cary Grant, go to Anything Can Happen: An Affair to Remember (1957)