The Bells of St. Mary’s

I looked at my closet and used a tape measure to figure out the dimensions of wood boards I would have to put in there to create some more space for my stuff.  I went out to the library for about a half hour before taking the buses out to the Grand Lake Theatre.  Some of the bus riders were frustrated with the lateness of the 57 bus.  I got to the theatre about five minutes before “Cars 3” was supposed to start.  I paid more attention to the short film “Lou” this time.  The message about bullying was rather annoying.  The movie itself was a little bit better the second time around, but the ending certainly was not satisfying.  Not many people were seeing the early afternoon showing of this movie, so the employee didn’t have much popcorn to sweep up afterwards.  I went back to the library and spent some time listening to music.  I had no energy to get out to the hardware store, so I went home and watched “The Bells of St. Mary’s.”  It was a sequel to “Going My Way” that could have been the prequel to it.  Bing Crosby is again Father O’Malley, who seemed calm and easygoing, but he didn’t exactly stand up for academic standards, declaring a holiday immediately upon arrival.  I thought back on the movies set at school that I’ve seen in my lifetime, like “Up the Down Staircase” and “Teachers.”  This one seemed unreal, as it was made 72 years ago.  When I was a child, movies from the 1940s didn’t seem so old, but they do now.  Father O’Malley is one of those men who believe that real-world experience teaches you more than school lessons in math and English.  That extends to boys fighting each other, which shows you the age of this movie.  Ingrid Bergman plays Sister Benedict, the nun who clashes with O’Malley.  She helps out the boy who lost the fight by buying a book on boxing, a book that didn’t really exist in reality, and coaching him on Saturdays, not quite like Mickey in “Rocky.”  Would a nun these days actually coach a young boy to fight to protect himself on the playground?  Well, I don’t know what goes on inside the Catholic Church.  One interesting moment was the children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which at the time didn’t have the words “under God.”  One of the students is a troubled girl who seems to be doing badly with her grades.  Also, there is a rich man putting up a new building next door, pushing to have the school condemned so that he can buy the property for a parking lot.  Henry Travers is this character, a contrast to Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Another thing that’s going on is Sister Benedict’s health problem.  The doctor hasn’t told her about it because her emotional response would make worsen her condition, supposedly.  I questioned the ethics of the doctor in this movie, as I did with the doctor in “Ikiru.”  This is one of your old-fashioned movies with sentiment and humor involving cats and the idealism of nuns.  The image of this laidback Catholic priest was so odd in light of the complaints his son in real life made about Bing Crosby after his death.  I can’t deny that Crosby was a good singer, although it looked like he wasn’t really playing the piano in one scene, and the most interesting song in this film is a Christmas carol.  It’s not really a Christmas movie, although it shows the Catholics doing good, a big contrast to a film like “Spotlight.”  It did show a miracle, which involved Travers.  In this story, prayer somehow does make a difference.  Travers complained that glass was hard to come by as he had a window fixed.  The pairing of Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman doesn’t feel magical 72 years later, although it puts together two Oscar winners.  There is no romantic chemistry between the characters, of course, although in this case I’m sure the audience didn’t mind.  This movie had eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress.  The most meaningful scene was Sister Benedict about to depart from the school under a cloud.  Well, a movie like this is supposed to be uplifting, making you feel good about religion and American values.  It made a lot of money for RKO, although it’s not one of the movies from the 1940s that we really remember.  I would say that it was not as entertaining as “Going My Way” was, the case with most sequels.  I couldn’t help thinking about Bing Crosby having a heart attack while playing golf in Spain.  Leo McCarey won two Oscars for directing and one for writing in his film career.  He directed “Duck Soup,” “The Awful Truth,” “Going My Way,” and “An Affair to Remember.”  “The Bells of St. Mary’s” was based on his aunt, Sister Mary Benedict, who died of typhoid.  His last picture was “Satan Never Sleeps” in 1962, and he died at age 70 of emphysema on July 5, 1969.  I watched the first half of “Kubo and the Two Strings.”  I thought that some of the humorous bits were good, but some of them fell flat.  I liked the animation with the origami figures.  Charlize Theron was the voice of a monkey.  I heard that the A’s managed to win their game in Houston, as Ryon Healy hit a grand slam to make the score 5-1, and Santiago Casilla escape a big jam in the bottom of the ninth inning with a double play to end the game.  The A’s have been alternating four wins with four losses over the last twelve games.  If the A’s were to win two-thirds of their games in the second half of the season, they would win 54 more games.  Some of the people who died on June 28 include James Madison (1836), Frank Sutton (1974), Rod Serling (1975), Maureen O’Sullivan (1998), Fred Travalena (2009), Jack Carter (2015), and Scotty Moore (2016).  Today is a birthday for John Cusack (51), Kathy Bates (69), and Mel Brooks (91).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for June 28, “The King and I,” starring Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, and Rita Moreno, was released in 1956.  In 1975, Rod Serling died at age 50 after heart surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.  In 1991, “The Naked Gun 2 ½” was released.

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