This week I saw the 1947 movie, “The Bishop’s Wife”, for the first time. Nominated for Best Picture, the film is a holiday jewel that escaped me for decades while I watched the staples like “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947).
The last three lines in “The Bishop’s Wife” are especially meaningful. The bishop (David Niven) is concluding his Christmas Day thoughts on the birth of Christ. The sermon was written by an angel (Gary Grant) sent to help guide the bishop who had lost his moral compass:
“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. “
Hollywood was big on movies with a moral message after WWII. But “The Bishop’s Wife” is the only one I remember using “tolerance.”
Today I read that we’ve sent more arms to Iraq which is in the throes of more violence from terrorists, a reminder that holiday movie endings are pure fiction. Still, we need to believe in something and it was refreshing to be entertained by an old movie with a timeless message.