Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Seeing Something Where There's Nothing: The Song of Bernadette


JonnyGeetar
 Share

Recommended Posts

First off: thanks TCM for showing this. Seems like a loooong time since it has aired and the last time I checked it out was on, if I remember correctly, AMC B.C. over 15 years ago. (Of course I could be wrong on this.)

 

Random thoughts:

 

 

1. I rarely say this, but this should have been in color. I guess maybe the war, combined with the length of the production prohibited this, but it should have been in color.

2. The sets are artificial and claustrophobic. Watching, one would get the idea that Lourdes was maybe an eighth of a mile long.

3. Why all the supporting nominations? In retrospect, Charles Bickford (an able, but kind of blandly crusty actor) and the great Gladys Cooper and Anne Revere really just don't do that much (outside of momentaty bursts of histrionics) or have enough presence to justify Oscar nominations for their parts. Vincent Price is always good though.

4. I wish they had not shown us "the vision." What was the problem with asking THE AUDIENCE to suspend THEIR disbelief and/or make THEIR OWN assumptions as to what Bernadette saw?

5. It was an hour too long.

6. Boy, everyone in this thing sure was French. There was just such an air of "Frenchness" about everything, from the accents to the sets, I think I saw a baguette in one scene. (sarcasm)

7. Talk about seeing something where there's nothing: Thank the Heavens The Academy had the good sense to overcome their delusions and pick Casablanca as Best Picture over this apparition.

 

 

and finally (and most controversially?)

 

 

I love Jennifer Jones. I think she deserved Oscar nominations for Beat the Devil, Cluny Brown, Ruby Gentry and I think she's inn-teresting in the thoroughly dull Duel in the Sun, but....Her performance in Bernadette is one of the most underwhelming turns to earn an Oscar that I have seen. It's as if she's consumed the whole time with coming off as YOUNG that she devotes what energy she has left to being Saintly. In the end, she comes off as seeming like a sleepwalker- unnatural, forced, lacking depth- tragically evident in the scene where she witnesses the vision- for all we know, she could be watching two dogs go at it. She brings to mind Gertie Stein's quote on Oakland: there's no there there.

 

 

I was glad to get the chance to see the film, but *very* disappointed by Jones.

 

 

*JONNY GEETAR'S CHOICE FOR BEST ACTRESS OF 1943:*

 

 

 

*Ida Lupino in The Hard Way*

Other worthy performances: Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca and For Whom the Bell Tolls, Joan Fontaine in The Constant Nymph, Teresa Wright in Shadow of a Doubt.

 

Discuss. (Or not)

 

 

 

 

 

ps- Sig Rumann (sic?) I forgot Sig Rumann. J'adore Sig Rumann. He was in everything wasn't he? SUTS day for Sig Rumann!

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 20, 2012 9:29 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the title of this thread.

 

The film has screened in the past year on Cinemax and Fox Movie Channel. Fox has also released it in a handsome DVD, so it has hardly been out of circulation.

 

I think the black-and-white cinematography makes it look more old world, more old faith. By comparison, THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA is filmed by Warners in Technicolor. It looks too lush and too rich, and the stark poverty of the religious subjects seems all but glossed over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JonnyGeetar,

 

 

 

I thank TCM as well for airing this film. To me a person takes away different things from a film depending on age and where they are in life at that particular moment. I have seen The Song of Bernadette a few times thoughout my life but the one thing that remains constant each time is the strong and unwavering depiction of faith. (which I lack most of the time) :|

 

 

 

 

To address your points:

 

 

 

The film would not have had the same feel if filmed in color. The dire circumstances of the Subirous family could not have been conveyed in glorious technicolor. Black and white was the only way to bring forth the bleekness that surrounded Lourdes.

 

 

 

 

There was a discussion not too long ago here on the boards about the magic of sets and lighting and how they play a large part in portraying the overall feel of the film. To me, the sets had to seem small given the gradure of the visitation.

 

 

 

 

I have to differ with you about the supporting actors. The facial expressions were of most importance in this film. A look can convey a thousand words. Case in point, Sister Marie Terese's face when she came to the realization that Bernadette was going through unbearable suffering portrayed expertly by Gladys Cooper. Shock, humiliation, sorrow...all there on her face. That is the measure of a great actor.

 

 

 

 

It was well documeted that Bernadette saw The Virgin Mary. In order to depict the visitation properly the audience had to see what Bernadette saw. BTW, I had read long ago that Linda Darnell played The Virgin Mary sans billing. Would love to know if this is true.

 

 

 

 

I share your sarcasm about everyone sounding French. At one point I swear Ann Revere sounded like she had just stepped off a Brooklyn street! I had to chuckle at that. lol

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Jones was magnificent as Bernadette. This film was autobiograpical so I'm sure Ms Jones wanted to take great care in portraying the Saint correctly. The scene to which you refer when Bernadette sees The Blessed Virgin for the first time. How could it have been protrayed any other way when Bernadette herself wasn't aware of who was before her? To me Ms. Jones gave a luminnescent, understated, sensitive, bittersweet performance as Bernadette. Well deserving of an Oscar.

 

 

 

 

And lastly, thank you for starting this thread. It makes for good discussion.

 

 

 

:)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Saw "Song of Bernadette" for the second time last night. It is, in my opinion, a splendid achievement, pictorally, directorally, and in terms of the acting. Henry King brings a tone of reverence and dignity, and keeps the pace quite deft for such a potentially sober story. For me, the film never feels sluggish, although your milage may vary.

 

 

As for the cast, I think they are all superb, and such a depth of talent was recruited for the movie. It seems odd to see people like Lee J. Cobb, Blanche Yurka, and Sig Ruman in comparatively throwaway roles. I think both Revere and Bickford are excellent here (but when weren't they?) but Gladys Cooper is, in my judgment, unutterably magnificent. Watching her face during her caustic and cutting monologue in which he berates Bernadette for being in her opinion 'unworthy' of receiving a vision while Cooper has slaved and served the church so tirelessly with no such blessing, is one of the most chilling things I've seen in a long time. Cooper's eyes here are absolutely unforgettable. Yet, somehow, despite how horrible her character seems on paper, Cooper brings an extraordinary depth of humanity to the reading of the dialog. We realize how bitter and disillusioned she is herself, and how she feels her vocation has not paid off as she feels it ought to. We are able to critique and revile what she says, and yet still feel great compassion for her character. All this she must convey, by the way, with only her eyes and her voice, as her black habit obscures everything else for the duration of this lengthy monologue. Cooper, who was nominated for several Oscars in her lengthy career, but never won, also is powerful and moving in her later monologue in which she confeses her selfishness and pleads for God's forgiveness. Again, this is all conveyed via the voice, since her face is not seen in this sequence at all. Whatever one's theological views, it would be churlish not to concede this is very likely the high water mark of Cooper's film resume. Not only do I not begrudge her the nomination for Supporting Actress of 1943, I sincerely believe she deserved to win.

 

 

I think Jones' role is a lot harder than it looks, and she did a fine job with it too. Both in the scenes with the vision and especially in that powerful deathbed scene. Jennifer herself was not persuaded she was all that good in the film, and apologized on Oscar night to loser Ingrid Bergman, who had been nominated for "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Ingrid, with customary graciousness, assured her by saying "No, Jennifer, your Bernadette was better than my Maria."

 

 

p.s. If there's anyone out there who can provide some credible explanation for how Ingrid Bergman got nominated for "For Whom the Bell Tolls" instead of "Casablanca" in 1943, please post if ASAP. I can't be the only person on Earth who sees how screwy that nomination was.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}{font:}{color:black}Thank you for your defense of the movie. I understand that Jennifer Jones had some connection with the Catholic Church in her youth and Charles Bickford was a lifelong one; if so, they probably did take their portrayals more seriously than others might have and played these people as reverently as possible. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}{font:}{color:black}While Gladys Cooper's Sister Marie Therese was excellently played the truth is that she never came to believe in Bernadette's visions and died thinking her a phony. This came from a lecture about Lourdes from a priest so I'm sadly accepting the movie is untruthful in that instance. Oddly, it's doubtful that the mother of Lucia, the oldest Fatima child, believed them either. The movie's almost like *Lady Jane* which is 90 percent true but the 10 percent that isn't takes over the story and breaks your heart if you know the truth. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}{font:}{color:black}That Hollywood made the film so moving rather than cynical is something that would never happen today. {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The original book was written by Franz Werfel, who, along with his wife, had to flee from Europe to avoid being murdered by the Nazis.

 

See the brief biography of Werfel at this link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Bernadette_(novel)

 

Seems that Werfel and his wife were saved from capture by the kind people of Lourdes who hid them from the Gestapo:

 

"Hunted by the Gestapo, the Werfels experienced anxiety for their hosts as well as themselves. A number of families took turns in giving them shelter. These people told the Werfels the story of Bernadette. Werfel vowed that, if he and his wife escaped, he would put off all tasks and write Bernadette's story into a novel."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Moviegal, for your comments on this film. I agree with you and could never express it so eloquently. This is a beautiful movie and I thought all the main actors were so believable. I didn't realize until years after I first saw it, that the Virgin Mary was played by Linda Darnell. I'm glad I didn't know, because I think it would have shifted the focus away from Bernadette.

 

Terrence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>*That Hollywood made the film so moving rather than cynical is something that would never happen today.*

Never? Stories that are moving are still being told, I believe.

 

Luther (2003)

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Children of Men (2006)

Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Invictus (2009)

The Hurt Locker (2009)

The Blind Side (2009)

Schindler's List (1993)

 

Now, if you are referring to movies only of religious revelations to certain individuals, you have a point. Now people claim they see the face of Jesus in a potato chip or tree trunk. Not quite the same nowadays.

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Feb 21, 2012 12:20 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}Seems that Werfel and his wife were saved from capture by the kind people of Lourdes who hid them from the Gestapo

>

> "Hunted by the Gestapo, the Werfels experienced anxiety for their hosts as well as themselves. A number of families took turns in giving them shelter. These people told the Werfels the story of Bernadette. Werfel vowed that, if he and his wife escaped, he would put off all tasks and write Bernadette's story into a novel."

>

Well THAT should have been the movie! Or they should have done a preface and ending similar to the one in Madame Bovary (1949) wherein we see the author and his story "introducing" the work we are about to see. Maybe they felt like the movie was long enough, but like I said, I personally felt like an hour of the running time could easily have been trimmed.

 

Many people have defended the black and white cinematography, I get your point, but must add that- moreso than how the picture was shot- HAVING AN ACTUAL TEENAGER instead of an (obviously, at least to me) 24 year old woman play Bernadette would have driven the injustice of the story home. Of course, my familiarity with Jones in all her other roles tempers this somewhat but still- leaving out all her post Bernadette work, she clearly is not a teenager although she clearly is trying very hard to convince us that she is.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 21, 2012 9:06 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duryey(sic), I agree.

 

Maybe Bergman was nodded to because "For Whom The Bell Tolls" was from Hemingway, and the acadamy wanted to appeare "Literary". I don't know.

 

As for Bernadette, I've seen it only a couple of times, and wasn't impressed. I did think Jones' work was rather melodramatic, which is common for movies about religious topics at that time. Just as was wrapping female accident victims up to look like nuns( a complaint Bette Davis once made). More melodrama was added by the way too syrupy music score. Anyway, all was done to play up a simpathetic tone towards the unjustly treated girl. And I agree a younger actress should have been considered. As for the apparition of Mary, why NOT show her? Maybe without all the fol-de-rol, which would strike too much of realism, which Hollywood was dead set against for some reason.

 

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

{font:Times New Roman} {font}{font:Times New Roman}

 

Casablancalover: I stand corrected; I might have cast the net too narrowly. I’ve not seen all the movies you mentioned but from what I know they deal with good people trying to overcome situations that most folks would link with evil. As Francis of Assisi told his band; “Preach the Gospel, use words when necessary”.

 

{font}

Link to comment
Share on other sites

{font:Times New Roman} {font:Calibri}Ah, Star, you and I are so far, far apart and yet so close...{font}

{font:Calibri}

Ditto

 

Jake in the Heartland{font}{font}

 

 

Not as far as you might think. We had our Mardi Gras celebration here on Saturday night-only two blocks from here so I heard it all-and I thought of you. May your good times roll tonight.

 

Edited by: wouldbestar on Feb 21, 2012 6:48 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*Casablancalover: I stand corrected; I might have cast the net too narrowly. I’ve not seen all the movies you mentioned but from what I know they deal with good people trying to overcome situations that most folks would link with evil. As Francis of Assisi told his band; “Preach the Gospel, use words when necessary”*.

 

Hi Star,

 

Star you're a big girl and you can take of yourself. But most reasonable people knew what your intent was meant to represent.

 

So, please don't feel you have to rationalize or apologize to those people.

 

Jake in the Heartland

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi wouldbestar,

 

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) was a pretty good movie too, and the three child actors were very good, but the film lacked big-name stars, except for Gilbert Roland. The Academy pretty much overlooked it, except for one nomination (for Max Steiner's music).

 

Song of Bernadette (1943) had Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, Vincent Price, Lee J. Cobb, Gladys Cooper, Anne Revere, Sig Ruman, Dickie Moore, Mae Marsh, and Linda Darnell. Plus, several other great character actors whose faces everyone knew, although they might not have known their names. It won 4 Oscars and was nominated for 8 more. And it received three Golden Globe Awards.

 

---------------------------

 

Here is Jennifer Jones (Phylis Isley), in her first film in 1939, with John Wayne in Frontier Horizon, AKA New Frontier:

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wouldbestar:

Your response was kind and thoughtful. But, please do not feel you needed to apologize.

 

I just wanted to point out that absolutes like never and always do not give a statement anymore weight to your words - your affection for the sentiments and devotion you find in Song of Bernadette is validation enough without suggesting the film industry is something now quite removed from good storytelling. The Song of Bernadette is laudable without kicking today's artists in motion picture business as contrast. Some people like to hurt others; please don't go there.

 

Being a real person, with actual life experience, what you can relate is valued to me.

 

Edited by: casablancalover on Feb 21, 2012 8:29 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

LOL!!! Well, c'mon now Charlotte! You HAD to know THAT was comin' here, didn't ya?! :^0

 

Yeah wouldbe, like Jake here said, you stick to your guns here, lady! Don't try to see or reach any common ground here at all with "those people" who may not believe in quite the same things that you might! Nope! You know how "those people" are who don't necessarily believe in miracles, or who think IF miracles in fact DO happen, that "those people" in Hollywood could make an uplifting movie nowadays which might or might not feature such a phenomenon!

 

(...actually wouldbe, I "believe" your quote of Francis of Assisi shows what a wise man he indeed was, and if you DO live your life by his thought there, it shows what a wise lady you are too!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Geez, Geetar your critique of this film is a bit overbearing. If iam not mistaken I think the spring was fake and most of the food shown in the film was plastic. It was a movie from the product of the times. With the world at war and people concerned with their loved ones, I can only imagine it was a uplifting experience if just for awhile. Me thinks your liberal slip is showing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ummmmm...before we turn this further into the next edition of "America's Culture Wars" on the (take your pick) ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX Network here gomarx, I'd like to remind you that, yeah SURPRISING, there are Liberals who are, yeah SURPRISINGLY, people of faith.

 

(...though I have a feelin' a certain member of TCM.com who's maybe a little too proud of livin' "in the Heartland" may not think..err..BELIEVE so!) :^0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now VX! How in Heaven's name would you know THAT??? ?:|

 

Saaaaay, YOU wouldn't happen to actually KNOW any of "those people" now WOULD YOU??? :0

 

:^0

 

 

(...and with THAT one VX, I THINK we've just lost "The Heartland" audience!...WELL, so much for OUR ratings here, EH?!)

 

 

:^0 :^0 :^0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...