The reviews here are effusive in their praise for this film, and for the life of me, I have no idea what they watched, because it couldn't be what I just watched.
Plot In A Nutshell: An angel (Cary Grant), under the guise of coming to earth to help a struggling bishop (David Niven), instead focuses the majority of his time on wooing the bishop's wife (Loretta Young), with the eventual intention of stealing her away and breaking up the bishop's family.
I'm not making this up. Look at the poster for the film. The angel is holding the bishop's wife in his arms, while the bishop looks on with concern. This is indeed the plot of this so-called "Christmas classic." Because nothing says "Christmas" like 'adultery' and 'divorce!' What is wrong with you people?
Niven's character is a new Episcopal bishop who is struggling with the demands of his position. He prays for heavenly guidance. Dudley the angel (Grant) promptly appears and tells the bishop that he is the answer to his prayers. OK, I'm following so far. And guess what happens next? Dudley spends time with the bishop's wife. And the bishop's daughter. And the bishop's wife again. And the bishop's friends. And the bishop's wife again. And the bishop's parishioners. And the bishop's wife. AGAIN. Now remember, Dudley the angel is here to 'provide guidance' to the bishop, right? That's what he said. But all we see is Dudley spend the majority of his time with pretty much anyone EXCEPT the bishop, but mostly with the wife. Mission accomplished? No. Mission Failed.
And as if that's not bad enough, Dudley uses angelic parlor tricks to win people's affection, not the least of whom is, again, the bishop's wife. The film is titled that for a reason, and it is an appropriate title. It all comes down to this fact: a supposed angel from heaven, a messenger of God, mind you, has come to earth and in the course of his duties, has realized that he covets a man's wife. And not just a man, a bishop's wife! But it gets worse. Dudley fully intends to pursue his interest in the wife. This is not a harmless flirtation. Need I remind you that coveting someone's wife is...uh...a violation of one of the Ten Commandments? What in the world is an angel of God doing willfully violating this? You got me. And while the idea in itself could make for an interesting film, what it DOES NOT make for is a good Christmas film, in any way, shape or form. My goodness.
Several reviewers here have commented on the similarity of "The Bishop's Wife" to "It's A Wonderful Life." OK. So imagine for a moment: in the latter film, Clarence the angel comes to Bedford Falls to help George Bailey. But while he's there, he begins spending more and more time with George's wife, Mary. He even uses his powers to keep George away from them so he can get in more quality time snuggling up to Mary. Imagine Clarence and Mary going out to dinner and going ice skating, while George toils away in the Building & Loan.
What in the world kind of garbage movie would that be? What a joke! Well, that's what you have here with The Bishop's Wife. A joke. This film is a T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E Christmas film. Absolutely terrible. Anyone who tells you this is heartwarming family entertainment is either seriously misguided or lying to your face. There can be no debate.
And just when you think you've hit rock bottom, it gets worse. Dudley the angel actually threatens the bishop with bodily harm! Oh yes. When the bishop confronts Dudley and tells him he's ready to fight for his wife, that he won't let the angel steal her away, Dudley pretty much laughs him off and casually tells the bishop he can zap him with a bolt of lightening at any time. Uh...wow. OK. This Dudley sure is one wonderful angel, huh? How about "no." Dudley is in fact a manipulative creep of the highest order. In the end, he only leaves because the wife tells him to leave, not because he ever sees the error of his ways. Dudley the angel is a major jackass and not at all representative of what an angel should be. Imagine if the angel Gabriel, appearing to Mary, mother of Jesus, decided 'hey this Mary is kinda cute!" and blows off his mission from God and instead tries to seduce Mary for himself! What the heck? Yeah well, again, that's what you have with this train wreck of a film. Yeesh.
5/10. Would I watch again (Y/N)? You can forget that. "The Bishop's Wife" is competently made, and the acting is good, but the message is atrocious, and be wary of anyone who tells you this is a 'great Christmas film.' It is most certainly not.