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THE MIRACLE OF THE BELLS


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I watched THE MIRACLE OF THE BELLS recently on Netflix streaming. It pointed to Catholic spirituality in a way that surprised me.

 

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I love the scenes where Fred MacMurray's character witnesses the miracle, how it is soon explained away by logic and science by Frank Sinatra's priest character, but how Fred and the townspeople know there's something more to it. This is a great film.

 

On the IMDB, a Jewish woman described the film having a profound effect on her:

 

I discovered this movie about ten years ago, on TV. The next day, a co-worker asked if I had watched it; I said yes, and we both agreed we had been moved by it. For my co-worker, this was not surprising; she was a Catholic. But for me, a Jewish semi-secular humanist, it was odd to admit I had felt something close to faith because of a late-40s studio picture.

 

The message of THE MIRACLE OF THE BELLS is that regardless of one's faith, there is the possibility of hope. The goodness that exists in human beings is not brought out by rigid observance to rules, but by acts of kindness and understanding. I don't want to say how this comes about or whether there really is a miracle in the Biblical sense. That is for viewers to find out. But the film brings tears to my eyes.

 

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Alida Valli is amazing-watch her face, her eyes, especially in the sequences where she plays Joan of Arc-she seems lit from within by faith. I love the scene in the Chinese restaurant, a scene of friendship and love. I wish this movie, like its heroine, was more well-known. I try to help it along by mentioning it whenever I can as one of those little gems, a quiet picture that may make you think, a nice example of Hollywood fantasy films of the 1940s, and a movie that will help you feel better if you feel down. I know I just rented it for that reason.

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I want to see this movie again so much. I still remember the "Joan of Arc" death scene and Fred MacMurray losing it when he realizes he loved the actress. Frank Sinatra deserved the Oscar he would later win for another film but it's outrageous that MacMurray was never even nominated. Walter Neff, Steve Douglas, this character and the real romantic hero in *The Rains of Ranchipur* -all played by one man-what more could you want?

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Well, I'll tell ya ONE thing here, TB...there certainly isn't any "miracle" in what the stunning Alida Valli does to ME every time I see her on the screen, and ever since my first glimpse of her as I watched The Third Man for the first time way back when!

 

(...nope...I've always just chalked THAT all up to a quite natural physiological reaction on my part) ;)

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MacMurray gives a textured performance in THE CAINE MUTINY, too. But this film, MIRACLE OF THE BELLS, is without a doubt his best screen work. It's heartbreaking stuff.

 

Ironically, Fred's first wife, Lillian Lamont, would die just five years later after he made this picture.

 

And although he plays a Protestant in MIRACLE OF THE BELLS, he was a Catholic in real life.

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>...there certainly isn't any "miracle" in what the stunning Alida Valli does to ME every time

 

I think many people share those feelings. This movie depends on her presence, even when she is not on-camera. I read that Ingrid Bergman was considered, but Valli projects an earthiness and warmth that the role really requires.

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She was exquisite and I always enjoyed her performance. My only thing is that she always played the same role. That being said, I never saw The Miracle Of The Bells. All of her other roles had her playing a somber, unhappy woman. I would love to have seen her in a different role.

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LOL

 

"Betty Hutton"!!!

 

Actually finance, I don't think Mimi exactly meant having Valli goin' to the COMPLETE opposite end of the acting style "spectrum" here.

 

Nope, to be honest with ya, I also was thinkin' somethin' very similar to Mimi here earlier. Yep, I was thinkin' that Valli had a similar look and gave off that similar sultry European vibe as did Hedy Lamarr, who also often played unhappy women with "men problems". BUT, Hedy also did and was sometimes pretty good at light comedy roles, too.

 

And so, I think THAT was Mimi's "lament" here. And IF that IS it, then of course I agree with her. Yep, I think it would have been nice to have seen the gorgeous Ms. Valli in some lighter fare, also.

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Yep, Joan Bennett DID look a lot like Hedy, and for that matter, so did Vivien Leigh, but that really wasn't my point here, finance.

 

What I was tryin' to say was that while the "exotic" Hedy AND the "exotic" Valli often played troubled women in dramas, Hedy occasionally also played leads in lighter romantic comedies, but I don't think Valli ever did, and I would've liked to have seen her give somethin' like that a shot, also.

 

(...btw, I'm talkin' about English language films here, as I know the majority of Valli's extensive filmography are films done in Europe and are mostly Italian language films)

 

Edited by: Dargo2 on Dec 7, 2012 11:30 AM

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Dargo - you are correct. I did not expect Valli to go "nutso" with a Betty Hutton type role! Don't get me wrong, Betty Hutton was great in the roles she played. My idea for Valli would have been in a role like Hedy Lamar played in Comrade X. I always liked Hedy Lamar and particularly so, in the lighter roles she played. I think Valli could have played that same type of character, as you have suggested. And even though you didn't see it often ( a couple of times in The Third Man), Valli had a pretty smile. In fact, it is a shame that we didn't get to see her in more films, period.

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There are several verses to this poem and bells ring in different ways in each one. In the first they are happy and joyous then by the last comes the somber ones of death. It was set to an acapella melody which my chorus sang in high school and I later did as my talent in my only beauty pageant.

I thought I was the only person who was familiar with this poem/song; thank you, ValX, for bringing back the memories.

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> {quote:title=wouldbestar wrote:}{quote}There are several verses to this poem and bells ring in different ways in each one. In the first they are happy and joyous then by the last comes the somber ones of death. It was set to an acapella melody which my chorus sang in high school and I later did as my talent in my only beauty pageant.

> I thought I was the only person who was familiar with this poem/song; thank you, ValX, for bringing back the memories.

 

I remember the poem, because I heard it as a song, in the 60s. It gets frantic, even maniacal. I can hear it in my head still, but I'm not certain who sang it. Might have been Phil Ochs.

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