Blogathons

The Ingrid Bergman Blogathon: The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945)

Ingrid bergman blogathonVirginie, over at Thewonderfulworldofcinema, is hosting this blogathon all about Ingrid Bergman. Be sure to check out all the other entries on her site. I can’t wait to read them all myself. I am so happy that we are discussing Ingrid because she was such a gifted actress, and she is one of my great favourites from the classic film era.

Where do I begin with Ingrid Bergman? Well, to me she is one of the(if not the) most expressive actresses in all of film history. Ingrid’s eyes spoke volumes and often she really didn’t need dialogue in a scene, as her face told us all we ever needed to know about what her character was feeling. When she smiled her whole face lit up, there was warmth and light in her eyes and she made you feel what she was feeling.

Ingrid appeared in many different genres over the years. I have always liked watching her act best in dramas, I think that is the genre which suited her talents best.

Ingrid was an actress who I can never catch acting, by that I mean she is totally natural in all of her screen roles. Ingrid brought such great depth to the many characters she played throughout her career.

I also think that Ingrid had a real knack for being able to convey emotion so convincingly that she makes you feel what her characters are experiencing at particular moments.

One of my favourite films of Ingrid’s is this lovely film from 1945, The Bells of St. Mary’s. This is the sequel to the very popular Bing Crosby film, Going My Way (1944). Bing reprises his role in this sequel as the kind, music loving, Catholic Priest, Father O’Malley.

These two films are feel good and they show us that there is goodness in humanity, even if you have to look more closely at times to find it. In these two films bad times can be made better by singing, or by sharing your troubles with others, and everything turns out well in the end. What’s not to like? 

Both of these films will be sure to leave you with a smile on your face. I like both films very much, but of the two, this sequel is my all time favourite. It is a comfort film for me, and it is one I turn to when I’m in need of some cheering up.

In this film we find Father O’Malley(Bing Crosby)taking up the position of priest at St. Mary’s convent/school. He soon finds himself at odds with the head nun, Sister Benedict(Ingrid Bergman) as they both have very different views on how the school should be run. As the months go by they grow to respect each other and gradually start to become friends. They both agree that the children need a bigger and more modern school building to work in.

The question of whether O’Malley can get their new building off the wealthy and selfish Horace P. Bogardus(Henry Travers) is the main storyline. A moving subplot sees O’Malley and Sister Benedict also both trying to help Patricia(Joan Carroll), a troubled teenager who has come to them because of family problems and who is very depressed. It’s nice seeing both Sister Benedict and Father O’Malley being there for Patricia and each trying to help her in different ways (essentially standing in as her parental figures.)

Sister Benedict falls ill and she won’t accept that her condition could be extremely serious. Father O’Malley tries and helps her see the truth of her situation, but finds it difficult as she often pushes him away.

Ingrid practically glows in this film, she radiates an inner light (and does in so many of her other film performances.) She captures the kindness and self sacrificial quality of Sister Benedict so well, there is a real naturalness about her in this performance that makes you totally believe in the character she is playing.

Ingrid makes Sister Benedict strong and determined, and she also makes her someone who can be easily moved and hurt. There are many times in this film when Ingrid makes your heart break for her character as she just looks so sad and vulnerable.

This is a film I would recommend to someone who had never seen Ingrid in a film before. I would recommend it because I think it lets her show how varied her acting skills were and would be a good introduction to her film work. It’s also one I’d recommend as being a good family film.

My favourite scenes from the film are the following. The nuns laughing when Father O’Malley is introducing himself to them, only to realise he is being upstaged by a playful kitten on a shelf behind him. Sister Benedict watching Mr. Bogardus praying in church and noticing the stray dog sitting behind him, this scene is both touching and funny as the dog makes cute/random noises that are funny, this scene also shows us that Bogardus is not all bad. The final scene between Sister Benedict and Father O’Malley (this moves me every time I watch it.) Patricia reading her report about senses out loud. Sister Benedict praying to God and crying as she begs to be able to understand the decision that has been made regarding her future. Patricia trying to look older and Father O’Malley being deeply amused by how she looks.

This is a beautiful and touching film about friendship, and about finding good where you least expect it. Ingrid is at her best in this film, and her performance is excellent.

Here are five Ingrid Bergman films that I really love.

1 – Notorious

2 – The Bells Of St. Mary’s

3 – For Whom The Bell Tolls

4 – Stromboli

5 –Anastasia

I also love Ingrid in the following: Indiscreet. A Woman Called Golda. Intermezzo. Journey To Italy.

Any other fans of this film and of Ingrid’s performance in it? Please leave your comments below.

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9 thoughts on “The Ingrid Bergman Blogathon: The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945)”

  1. I really do love this performance. It encapsulates everything I love about Ingrid: pure emotional acting, which sometimes results in flaws and yet I prefer it to cold, calculated performances. I can always see the passion in Ingrid’s performances,and her final scenes in this film are otherworldly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Ingrid could well be responsible for your growing appreciation for this one. As lovely as the film is, I doubt it would be as good/fondly remembered if someone other than Ingrid had played Sister Benedict. Sister Benedict had a mean right hook 🙂

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  2. “When she smiled her whole face lit up, there was warmth and light in her eyes and she made you feel what she was feeling. ” –> YES! You really gave justice to Ingrid through your article and we feel she’s an actress that you indeed admire very much. I haven’t seen The Bells since a long time, but I remember it as a beautiful and touching film. Your great review certainly makes me want to revisit it in a near future! Thanks so much for your participation to the blogathon! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a sweet and lovely movie. You’re right — Bergman positively glows in it! I think my favorite part of all might be when she teaches one of her students “the manly art of self-defense.” Oh, it cracks me up every time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. She was also unforgettable as Ilsa in CASABLANCA. She was our co-actress winner on my well-attended FB poll -we are doing the Best Actor and Best Actress winner of every year from 1927 to the present and just completed 1943 when Ingrid tied Jennifer Jones for Best Actress. Today (with a record 75 people casting ballots) Roger Livesay (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) edged out Humphrey Bogart for CASABLANCA 26 to 23, with Joseph Cotton (Shadow of a Doubt at 11 and Henry Fonda (The Ox-Bow Incident) at 7.

    Great choices here!

    I’d love to hook up with you on FB too is you are there! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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