Two nuns arrive unannounced in the small New England town of Bethlehem, where they recruit various townspeople to help them build a children's hospital.Two nuns arrive unannounced in the small New England town of Bethlehem, where they recruit various townspeople to help them build a children's hospital.Two nuns arrive unannounced in the small New England town of Bethlehem, where they recruit various townspeople to help them build a children's hospital.
*** (out of 4)
Excellent performances and a touching story highlight this comedy/drama about a pair of nuns (Loretta Young, Celeste Holm) who travel from France to New England where they plan on building a children's hospital. Without any type of funds, the nuns try to gather enough money for their dream to come true but they're going to have to depend on some characters who aren't all that thrilled about the hospital. This film was nominated for seven Oscars but it seems to have been forgotten, which is a real shame because this is a pretty touching little gem that works on many levels. What really stands out are the terrific performances with Young and Holm both turning in strong work. There wasn't a single second that I ever looked at their characters and saw actors because the two were so good that you'll have no trouble believing that they are nuns. They're surrounding by some fine actors including Hugh Marlowe as a neighbor who doesn't want to church built. Elsa Lancaster plays an elderly, lonely woman who first takes the nuns in and Thomas Gomez is terrific as a gambler who owns the property where the sisters are wanting to build the hospital. The movie tries walking a fine line between laughs and drama and for the most part it works. I think there are a few bits that push too hard for comedy and you'll see one such scene early one when the "joke" about the nuns driving too fast is played to the extreme. The main reason this movie works is due to its more dramatic and religious moments. The film is never preachy nor does it try to convert people; instead it just makes you feel good. The sequence where the nuns go to the gambler to try and get him to give away the land ends is a very dramatic sequence that I won't ruin but it's incredibly touching. Another terrific scene is when the nuns try to get the local Bishop to buy into their ideas even though it seems impossible that they'll be able to pull them off. Apparently this drama was so successful when first released that a sequel was planned but never produced. It's easy to see why this movie would bring a crowd in but it deserves to be better known today.
- Apr 5, 2010