Sunday, June 13, 2010

This Week's Poll: What's your favorite movie about nuns?

There have been a number of memorable films about nuns or featuring nuns in prominent roles. This week's poll has narrowed the nominations for "favorite movie about nuns" down to a list of just seven films. I am sure some readers will take issue with which films were included and which were omitted. But before those discussions begin, let's peruse the seven films vying for your vote this week:

Black Narcissus - This Powell & Pressberger masterpiece stars Deborah Kerr as a nun sent to a remote village in the Himalayas to start a hospital and a school. A thematically rich film, it features brilliant performances and is enhanced by the most glorious color photography ever captured on celluloid.

Lilies of the Field - A group of German nuns in a small Arizona town convince a wanderer (Sidney Poitier) to do a roof repair—which eventually results in him building a chapel for them. Yes, Poitier won the Oscar for this and he’s terrific—but he’s matched by Lilia Skala as the Mother Superior. The language difference is the source of much unexpected humor. This is a lovely little film about faith and perseverance.

The Bells of St. Mary’s - Bing Crosby recreated his Oscar-winning role as Father O’Malley (“Just dial ‘O’ for O’Malley”) in this sequel to Going My Way. But this film belongs to Ingrid Bergman, who anchors it with her captivating, warm performance as Sister Mary Benedict. It’s an incredibly natural performance and her climatic scene with Crosby may be Ingrid’s finest moment on film.

Come to the Stable - Loretta Young and Celeste Holm play French nuns who settle in the New England town of Bethlehem with the goal of building a children’s hospital—but they have no money, no land, and no one to help. A charming film that works its magic in subtle ways, even if the outcome is never in doubt.

The Nun’s Story - Aubrey Hepburn gives one of her best performances in this tale of the hardships faced by a young nun. The heart of the film takes place in the Belgian Congo, where Sister Luke assists a physician (Peter Finch) in treating lepers. However, it’s the opening and closing scenes that linger the longest with me.

The Sound of Music - It’s easy to dismiss this film as a solid adaptation of the Broadway smash with an engaging performance by Julie Andrews. But the film was a culture phenomenon in the 1960s, revived the musical for a few years, and played for months in some cities (in my hometown, one theatre ran it for a year!).

The Trouble With Angels - Rosalind Russell plays Mother Superior of a girls’ boarding girl and Haley Mills is on hand as the resident troublemaker. It’s episodic, but always pleasant and the closing scene (though not unexpected) is a great touch.

As always, the requirement to keep the nominees to a reasonable number means that good movies need to be left out. This week's omissions include: Song of Bernadette, Bedazzled (Dudley Moore as a nun), The Singing Nun, and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Feel free to highlight any other notable nun films by leaving a comment. In the meantime, please cast your vote for one of the seven nominees in the green sidebar on the right.


  1. Just linked to your going my way post & saw that this was your contemporary topic! I guess I should see Bells of St. Mary's now :-)

  2. Just great list, Rick. Those are definitely the best. It's going to be a challenge to pick one. BTW it's very interesting how many polls have been ties!

  3. Evoco wire
    "great article here, thx for sharing"

  4. As a product of Catholic eduscation, Roz Russell's performance in Trouble with Angels remains best! I still laugh out loud when I recall her scene with Jim Hutton. Hutton is the principal of a "progressive school." he tells Roz that the best educational minds are on his side. She informs him that God is on hers! CLASSIC! Ofcourse Russell herself was Catholic and often jokingly called her Parish "Our Lady of the Cadillacs."

  5. Rick,I may need divine inspiration to help me in this poll. Like Gilby, I received a parochial education in the primary grades. I dearly love "Lillies of the Field" and "Come to the Stable." But I think "Black Narcissus" is a masterpiece. What a fun idea for a poll!

  6. Who won this poll? I missed it. Thanks.