The Bells of St. Mary's Movie Poster Image

The Bells of St. Mary's



A classic of faith and values.
  • Review Date: April 17, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1945
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Father O'Malley teaches by example that faith is all well and good, but you still have to take initiative to get things done. The film asks the question, "Is it ever right to lie, even to protect someone's feelings?"

Violence & scariness

Undramatic fisticuffs between two boys.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that nostalgic guardians will enjoy sharing this one with their children. But parents should be on hand to field a few delicate questions, such as whether it's ever okay to lie to protect someone, and vague allusions to a single mother's fall from respectability. This is a great film for the whole family to curl up to on a rainy day. Teens who are fans of old classics or light musicals will be happy to have this one in their collection.

What's the story?

In this moving classic, run-down, overcrowded St. Mary's has a new pastor, Father Chuck O'Malley (Bing Crosby), whose views on how to run a parochial school give Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman) a thing or two to think about. The two of them put their differing methods to the same task: saving the school. That salvation comes in the improbable shape of Horace P. Bogardus, a building owner who needs but a few suggestive nudges to awaken the joy of giving in his ailing heart.

Is it any good?


The rapport between Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman is enough to overcome the tired plot, and got the two stars Oscar nominations for their performances. Bearing that in mind, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S isn't so much about a pair of Catholic do-gooders trying to save their beloved parochial school as it's about that wonderful pairing -- but it is undeniably engaging.

This time around Crosby plays Father O'Malley a bit softer, more quietly subversive, than he did in Going My Way. Why, 40 minutes of movie time pass before he sidles up to a piano and starts crooning. The repentant way he glances heavenward after telling a fib is priceless. That Bergman can look angelic even while coaching a boy on how to box is a testament not only to her screen presence, but to the talents of George Barnes, whose black-and-white camera work also did wonders for her in Hitchcock's Spellbound that same year. You believe she's a sister superior just by the way he makes light fall across her.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether it's okay to lie to protect someone, or whether it's every okay to pester an old man into donating to a worthy cause.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 6, 1945
DVD release date:September 7, 1999
Cast:Bing Crosby, Henry Travers, Ingrid Bergman
Director:Leo McCarey
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Bells of St. Mary's was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byRockybalboa211 February 26, 2011

Just perfect!

A beautiful movie, with a beautiful message. If you have to watch a movie with the family, this is perfect! I don't think it was melodramatic lol... Henry Travers (Clarence) from "It's a Wonderful Life" acts mighty swell in this film! :D
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares January 28, 2009
I saw this on Turner Classic Movies a few weeks ago. Well-acted and entertaining, if a tad melodramatic.


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