The film takes place at Christmas time. Snow falls and people of all ages look in the store windows dreaming of gifts and miracles. Little do they know that an angel is walking among them, guiding a blind man across the busy street and catching a baby carriage just before it reaches the end of the sidewalk.
Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) is trying to build a new cathedral, which he hopes will be funded mostly by a widow’s generous donation. With his old church in need of money and his wife becoming more distant, he seems to be losing sight of his spiritual and family life. He realizes him and his wife, Julia (Loretta Young), need more time together, but with all his engagements for the cathedral he’s at a loss. Despairing in his office, with his wife alone at the dinner table, Henry prays for guidance, turns around and finds Dudley (Cary Grant), who claims to be an angel sent to help him. Problem is, Henry believes he needs help with the fund raising, but Dudley is really there to help his family life.
Though Henry is a man of the church, he has a hard time believing that Dudley is an angel. Especially when he stubbornly thinks that Dudley isn’t helping him at all. While Henry insists on keeping his busy schedule, Dudley spends time with Julia. Soon, Julia seems to take too much of a liking to Dudley and Henry fears that Dudley has really been sent to replace him within his family.
This film is probably best enjoyed with kids around Christmas time. The ultimate message about remembering what is most important isn’t too profound to be lost on a younger audience. The whole film is very family friendly and has some fun and magical moments. Dudley’s wave-of-the-hand angel powers make for some pleasantly unexpected Mary Poppins style special effects. He helps decorate a Christmas tree, refill wine glasses and help the Brougham’s little girl throw a perfect curve-ball to be accepted into the snowball fight. There’s even a wonderful ice skating scene that just screams winter wonderland. Of course, it’s all done with Grant’s classic charm.
The holidays are coming up, and if you’re looking for a good film to calm your cooped up kiddies that isn’t so commercialized or full of sing-alongs, The Bishop’s Wife might be just what you’re looking for. It can also be a great way to introduce them to one of the great classic stars, Cary Grant.
“I was instructed to come here and answer your prayer.”