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The Bishop’s Wife

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The Bishop's Wife (1947) starring Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young
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The Bishop’s Wife (1947) starring Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young

The Bishop’s Wife is a delightful Christmas movie, about an overworked bishop, who prays to God for help. And he gets an angelic answer. The answer he needs, not what he expected.

Product description of The Bishop’s Wife

A harassed bishop’s prayers are answered when an angel (played by Cary Grant) is sent from heaven to help him raise money for a new church. The heavenly agent performs a number of miracles on his behalf, restoring hope to all. A delightful comedy which was remade in 1996 by Penny Marshall as “The Preacher’s Wife.” Academy Award Nominations: 5, including Best Picture and Best Director. Academy Awards: Best Sound Recording….Cary Grant, Loretta Young

Henry Brougham (David Niven): I was praying for a cathedral.
Dudley (Cary Grant): No, Henry. You were praying for guidance.


In short, The Bishop’s Wife is an absolute delight. It’s a wonderful Christmas movie. A bishop asks God for guidance. And, God sends him an angel to help. Not to help with the cathedral he wants, but what he truly needs. And along the way, the angel helps a lot of other people as well. Helping them with the needs that they weren’t focusing on. It’s an excellent film, that I rate a rare five stars. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final lines

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child.

All the stockings are filled… all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we are celebrating. Don’t ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most… and then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth. 

Henry Brougham (David Niven)

Cast of characters

  • Cary Grant (Holiday) … Dudley. The angel, sent to help the Broughams.
  • Loretta Young (Come to the Stable) … Julia Brougham. Literally, the bishop’s wife. Dudley helps not only with the cathedral, but in repairing her strained relationship with her husband. Henry needs to be reminded about his true priorities: his wife, family, and congregation. And with his Savior.
  • David Niven (A Matter of Life and Death) … Bishop Henry Brougham. The bishop, who prays to God for help building a new, massive cathedral. And God answers his prayer with an angel. Dudley is there to help with what’s needed, not necessarily what’s asked for.
  • Monty Woolley (The Man Who Came to Dinner) … Professor Wutheridge. He’s been working on a definitive history book, for twenty years. And, it will never be finished. Unless Dudley can help him …
  • James Gleason (Here Comes Mr. Jordan) … Sylvester. The cab driver, whom Dudley recognizes. And Sylvester can’t understand how …. Then Dudley prevents an accident. And, invites him to go skating!
  • Gladys Cooper (My Fair Lady) … Mrs. Hamilton. The rich lady, who’s making the bishop cater to her every whim. Or she won’t pay for the cathedral. In her late husband’s memory. Then, Dudley pays a visit to her.
  • Elsa Lanchester (Witness for the Prosecution) … Matilda. The Brougham’s housekeeper. A delightful character.

Secondary characters

  • Sara Haden (The Great Rupert) … Mildred Cassaway
  • Karolyn GrimesDebby Brougham. Henry & Julia’s little girl. Dudley helps her join a snowball fight. Later, he tells her a captivating story about the shepherd boy David. With the family watching enraptured.
  • Tito Vuolo (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) … Maggenti
  • Regis Toomey (The Forest Rangers) … Mr. Miller
  • Sarah Edwards (It’s a Wonderful Life) … Mrs. Duffy
  • Margaret McWade (The Lost World 1925) … Miss Trumbull
  • Anne O’Neal … Mrs. Ward
  • Ben Erway … Mr. Perry
  • Erville Alderson … Stevens

Editorial review of The Bishop’s Wife courtesy of

Perhaps if The Bishop’s Wife had lapsed on its copyright and fallen into the public domain like It’s a Wonderful Life, it would be as much a Christmas staple as that classic. It certainly deserves to be. Dudley (Cary Grant) is an angel sent down by the prayers of a new bishop (David Niven). The bishop is trying to build a new cathedral, and he’s so entrenched in his fundraising that he’s watching his own marriage crumble around him. Loretta Young is devoted, moist-eyed, and basically a great date for the tempted Dudley. They drink in the afternoon, go skating at night, and make impulse buys. The skating sequence beats mightily on one’s suspension of disbelief, but the rest of the film is an absolute joy. Grant is suave, worldly, and enchanting. A wonderful present for anyone who has not seen it. —Keith Simanton

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