Tuesday 23 December 2014

Bells of St. Mary's Minutae

Here are ten facts you may not know about the movie "The Bells of St. Mary's", starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman.

1.  A priest acted as an off screen adviser during production of the movie, based at a Catholic convent and school.  As a prank, Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby share a passionate kiss during the closing scene; the priest roars his disapproval of the kiss, only to find out it wasn't in the script.

2.  "Varvindar Friska", or "Spring Breezes", is a traditional Swedish folk song sung by Ingrid Bergman in the film.

3.  "The Bells of St. Mary's", which earned 3,715,000 at the box office, was RKO's most profitable film ever produced.

4.  Ingrid's Bergman's character, Sister Mary Benedict, purchases Gene Tunney's boxing manual at the sports store to train one of her students who is being harassed by a playground bully.  While Gene Tunney was a true boxer, he never wrote a book called The Art of Boxing.

5.  "The Bells of St. Mary's" served as a sequel to "Going My Way", also starring Bing Crosby as a priest.

6.  Leo McCarey, the movie's director, was inspired to write the script by his aunt, Sister Mary Benedict, who helped build Immaculate Heart Convent in Hollywood.  As Sister Mary in the movie suffered from tuberculosis, real life Sister Mary suffered from typhoid fever, which led to her death.

7.  "The Bells of St. Mary's" is considered a Christmas movie in large part because of the Christian theme and the Christmas play staged by the schoolchildren in which they sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, complete with a real baby in a basket.

8.  The Pledge of Allegiance did not contain the words "under God" at the time of filming; hence the children did not recite that version.

9.  Many of the theatrical posters for "Bells of St. Mary's" contained shots of Bergman and Crosby in non-clerical garb.

10.  At the 1945 Academy Awards, Leo McCarey won Best Director for "Going my Way" and Bing Crosby won Best Actor.  When Ingrid Bergman went onstage to receive her best actress award for "Gaslight", she said:  "I'm glad I won because tomorrow morning, I start shooting the sequel to "Going My Way", with Bing Crosby and Leo McCarey, and I was afraid that if I didn't have an Oscar, they wouldn't speak to me."

For more information, visit my post "The Bells of St. Mary's" at

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