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In this incredibly charming film set in colonial America, William Holden plays David Harvey, a widower who marries a servant girl named Rachel (Loretta Young), so that his son Davey will have a mother figure, and so that she can keep their cabin clean and tidy, provide meals, etc.  It is a marriage of convenience, but when David’s friend Jim (Robert Mitchum) comes to visit and shows an interest in Rachel, David comes to realise what she really means to him.

I only watched this film because it starred two of my favourite actors – William Holden and Robert Mitchum – and what a lucky lucky girl Rachel was to get to choose between the two! However, I was pleasantly surprised, because this is an absolute gem of a movie!  The always excellent Holden perfectly captures the sadness that David feels after the loss of his beloved wife, and Young is great as the woman who feels unwanted, save for the chores she does.  Mitchum is also wonderful as David’s easy-come easy-go friend.  Rounding out the main cast is child actor Gary Gray as little Davey.

The story is gentle and sweet, with some surprising moments of humour, and one of the funniest fight scenes I have ever seen!  It held my attention throughout and I really liked all of the characters.

This film doesn’t seem to get many outings on television, but I would urge anyone to try and catch it if they can.  It is really rather lovely, and I highly recommend it.

Year of release: 1948

Director: Norman Foster

Producers: Jack J. Gross, Richard H. Berger

Writers: Howard Fast (story ‘Rachel’), Waldo Salt

Main cast: William Holden, Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum, Gary Gray

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Perfect viewing for the Christmas season, this 1947 films stars Cary Grant as an angel (and really, who wouldn’t want Cary Grant as their Christmas angel?!) named Dudley.  David Niven plays Bishop Henry Brougham, who is desperately trying to raise funds for a new cathedral to be built.  Such is his concern over this matter that he has started to neglect his wife (Loretta Young), and they no longer have any kind of social life or quality time together.  Dudley comes to earth and reveals his identity as an angel only to Bishop Brougham; to everyone else, Dudley is Henry’s new assistant.  Dudley soon finds friends and fans – Henry’s wife Julia soon befriends him, their daughter Debby adores him, the staff at the house all think he’s wonderful…even the sceptical Professor Wutheridge is charmed by Dudley.  Everyone in fact, except Bishop Brougham, who thinks that he is being replaced in his family’s affections…

The premise of this film (an angel sent down to earth to help a man desperate for guidance) might sound similar to another Christmas classic – It’s A Wonderful Life.  It really isn’t, however.  This film is altogether lighter in tone, with plenty of funny moments.  This was apparently Cary Grant’s least favourite role out of the many he played in his career, but whatever he thought of it, I thought he was truly delightful in this film.  He totally embodied the part of Dudley, and his childlike joy and insistence on being happy made this very much a feel-good movie.  Niven is also great as the Bishop, although he has less room to ‘play around’ with his part, being as he is, rather dour for much of the picture.  Loretta Young looked simply stunning, and was also great as Julia – a woman who had almost forgotten what it felt like to have fun.

Overall, the film is charming and just lovely.  Definitely one to watch over Christmas!

Year of release: 1947

Director: Henry Koster

Writers: Robert Nathan (book), Robert E. Sherwood, Leonardo Bercovici, Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder

Main cast: Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young, Monty Woolley

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