The Bishop's Wife

The video jacket of The Preacher’s Wife, which plays up the teaming of Denzel Washington and sleek songbird Whitney Houston under the direction of hitmaker Penny Marshall (Big, A League of Their Own), makes the prospect of an angel named Dudley who comes back to earth to help save a run-down church, its overwhelmed minister, and his frustrated wife seem especially appealing. The problem is that Washington competes with the memory of Cary Grant, who played Dudley, the angel in the 1947 film that inspired The Preacher’s Wife, The Bishop’s Wife. Ubiquitous on TV during the holiday season and available on tape year-round, the Capraesque original follows Grant’s charismatic Dudley as he reunites an ambitious clergyman (a worn-looking David Niven) with his neglected spouse (a luminous Loretta Young). Dudley executes his good deeds with such relaxed good cheer, incandescent charm, and beautifully toothy smiles that he captivates everyone in town — not to mention anybody watching the movie. Grant’s turn is thoroughly convincing because he himself appears to be having a terrific time: He’s expansive, graceful, and seems always on the verge of chuckling with goodwill. B+

The Bishop's Wife
  • Movie
  • 109 minutes