The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

In this sequel to Going My Way Bing Crosby returns in his role as an out of control, play by his own rules, stick it to the man priest, Father O’Malley. O’Malley is the guy the Church sends in when everyone else has failed! He’s their final option! This time, all our souls are saved!

In this tale, O’Malley is appointed interim commissioner of St. Mary’s, a parochial school where things are way sucky. Bing arrives and the housekeeper informs him that the last priest got carted off in an ambulance or something because the nuns ran roughshod all over his candy ass.

Bing meets the nuns and their leader is Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). Benny thinks that Father O’Malley is going to play by her rules when it comes to running the school. Apparently she skipped the first movie in this series because it she hadn’t, then she would know that O’Malley has a lot of new-fangled, crazy ideas that just might be new-fangled and crazy enough to work!

O’Malley listens to Benny’s prattle about something or other and O’Malley keeps his winning smile plastered on his face like some kind of death mask. Then he gets down to work whipping the school into shape. First thing he does is to try to get over with the kids since he knows he’s going to have run ins with the nuns no matter what he does.

At the beginning of the school day he announces to everyone that there would be a holiday! This, of course gets a huge pop from the kids and lots of cheap heat with the nuns.

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But O’Malley hasn’t been called in just to roust a few frigid broads and play up to little Catholic punks. No, these are dangerous times for venerable old St. Mary’s!

A cold hearted rich guy who is building a big factory next to St. Mary’s covets the land St. Mary’s sits on for a parking lot!

He wants St. Mary’s to sell out. And if they don’t? Don’t worry, since he’s a rich old coot, he’s got a master plan so diabolical, the devil himself would blanch!

The old windbag is also on the city council or zoning board or PTA or something and that organization could condemn St. Mary’s, force them to tear it down, and then make them pay for the cost of doing so!

The nuns have their own plan though! Their plan is of course completely idiotic and makes no sense, meaning it will eventually come to pass.

Their strategy is to get the old guy to give them his brand new building so they can use it for a new and improved St. Mary’s. Bing and I are kind of looking at them and thinking, “Okay, that’s an interesting plan, but we do have a question: Are you nucking futs?” The nuns not only have a plan, the also have a way to put it into action. How? Prayer! Cue eye roll…now!

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Now this heavenly slice of dog doo runs a very ungodly 126 minutes and everyone realizes that this means extra padding is going to have to be ordered to slow the action down. Back in 1945, you didn’t want the audience to get overexcited by packing all the action in under two hours.

Unfortunately, this film follows the formula of the first one in that regard. Several unrelated and undeveloped subplots are introduced. Invariably these are designed to showcase Bing’s caring and problem solving abilities which mainly consists of him giving simple and very bad advice and by crooning and playing the piano.

These little side stories are so banal and bland and feature actors so ugly, that you’re ready to take the wrecking ball to St. Scary’s yourself. One involves Bing finding a father who deserted his family 13 years ago in Syracuse. He does it in about five minutes. “I just looked him up in the musician’s guild,” he explains to the stunned wife.

Then there’s plot about the wife’s daughter who’s fails the eighth grade. Sister Benedict flunks her ass and Bing says she should just pass her anyway. Benny goes, “well, why should we have grades at all then?” And Bing says, “yeah, we shouldn’t have grades.” Remember, he’s the Church’s final option!

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The other major problem with this movie is the payoff comes about 90 minutes in and just isn’t credible. The old guy has heart trouble you see. Bing tells old guy’s doctor that he can lick the heart trouble by doing good deeds. His doctor tells old guy this. Old guy pretty much then believes it and hands over his building to the church.

If you’re making a 126 minute movie about saving some damn church, you need a little bit stronger climax than that. After a lifetime of being a skinflint, this guy just hands it over one day? No wonder Bing was smiling the whole time. He must have peeked at the script and seen that it was all going to be nothing but cake.

But wait! New crisis! The lovely Sister Benny has a touch of TB and has to shipped out to be a dryer climate. But no one wants to tell her because of some stupid reason. So she thinks that Bing fired her ass because they couldn’t get along and she’s leaving and they’re all teary eyed and she’s walking off the set when Bing calls her back!

Sister! I didn’t fire your ass because it had a stick up it! I fired it because you have TB! And she turns on the waterworks and thanks Bing because she couldn’t bear the thought that he made her leave because he didn’t like her, since she loved him and all. Oh, wait. I mean, since she loved the school and God and all.

And as if to prove how great God really is, there was no third film in this series! Thanks Big Guy!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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