Format: VOD from TCM
Director: Leo McCarey
I don't watch The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) every year - and it's been a while - but when I do, I'm weirdly weepy through the whole thing. And I do not know why. Ingrid Bergman smiling in soft lighting in close-up is certainly part of it. But... I'm not Catholic. I've only spoken to like one or two nuns in my life.
The message of the film is not as on the nose as It's a Wonderful Life or a Pixar film where you more or less get why you're having the feels. But who can argue with the kind of belief in people's better natures, that kindness is its own reward and the value of good cheer that the movie puts forward? And, for those of you so inclined, it's a look at faith and service that's remarkable.
The Bells of St. Mary's is considered a Christmas movie, and it... is not. It has exactly one sequence of a movie that takes place over an academic year that takes place anywhere around Christmas. That scene is a banger, but it barely even advances the plot. The original release date - Dec. 6th, 1945 - fell in the holiday season (it's on the marquee at the Bedford Falls cinema as George Bailey runs down Main Street), and paired with the song becoming not exactly a staple, but a bit of a standard, of holiday music - it's locked in.