Miracle of the Bells

Miracle of the Bells

5.0 2
Director: Irving Pichel

Cast: Irving Pichel, Philip Ahn, Lee J. Cobb, Fred MacMurray

     
 

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Casting Frank Sinatra as a Pennsylvania priest is but one of the many miscalculations made by the producers of Miracle of the Bells. Adapted by Ben Hecht and Quentin Reynolds from the best-selling novel by Russell Janney, the story revolves around an aspiring actress named Olga Treskovna (Alida Valli). Escaping the sooty environs of Coaltown, Pennsylvania, OlgaSee more details below

Overview

Casting Frank Sinatra as a Pennsylvania priest is but one of the many miscalculations made by the producers of Miracle of the Bells. Adapted by Ben Hecht and Quentin Reynolds from the best-selling novel by Russell Janney, the story revolves around an aspiring actress named Olga Treskovna (Alida Valli). Escaping the sooty environs of Coaltown, Pennsylvania, Olga heads to Hollywood, where through a series of incredible circumstances she manages to land the highly coveted leading role in a film based on the life of Joan of Arc. Tragically, Olga dies suddenly after wrapping up the film's final scene. Producer Marcus Harris (Lee J. Cobb) wants to reshoot the film with another, better-known actress, rather than risk losing a fortune on an "unknown" whom he can no longer groom for stardom. But press agent Bill Dunnigan (Fred MacMurray), who has journeyed to Coaltown to learn Olga's life story, tries to persuade Harris to release Joan of Arc as filmed, and to this end he enlists the aid of local priest Father Paul (Sinatra). To show their support for the late, lamented Olga, all the churches of all denominations in Coaltown ring their bells, nonstop, for three days. This man-made miracle not only convinces Harris to change his mind, but leads to a genuine miracle at the fadeout. Reviewers were unanimous in condemning Miracle of the Bells as a pretentious failure: the kindest comments ranged from "mawkish" to "nauseating." The picture hasn't improved much with age, but should be seen at least once on the strength of its cast alone. If it is seen, however, it's best to stick with the original black-and-white version and avoid the colorized TV print.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Miracle of the Bells wants to be a heartfelt, moving tribute to the power of faith, and as such, some people, especially those with a strong religious connection, will find much in it to appreciate. Those who require a film to have more than good intentions, however, will not be so favorably inclined to it, and are liable to find it mawkish, manipulative and dramatically sterile. There's also something simply uncomfortable about watching a film involving a Hollywood press agent trying to get a shelved religious-themed film released in order to honor the deceased young star of the film. In other hands, it could make for an interesting satire; played entirely too straight as it is, it becomes a little hard not to think of the stereotypical anything-for-a-buck studio hacks in Hollywood and wonder whether they thought they could put one over on audiences with this one, simply because of its subject matter. All this aside, however, the fact is that the screenplay is simply terrible, the direction is turgid, and the performances are below par for this talented cast. A miscast Frank Sinatra is the worst, but Fred MacMurray's lethargic performance and Lee J. Cobb's stiff one are not tremendously better. Bells turns up quite frequently as a Christmas movie, and perhaps this is just as well; seeing it while filled with holiday spirit will make one more willing to overlook its many flaws.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/14/2013
UPC:
0887090063708
Original Release:
1948
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
2:00:00
Sales rank:
23,914

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Philip Ahn Ming Gow
Lee J. Cobb Marcus Harris
Fred MacMurray Bill Dunnigan
Charles Meredith Father Spinsky
Veronika Pataky Anna Klovna
Frank Sinatra Father Paul
Alida Valli Olga Treskovna
Harold Vermilyea Nick Orloff
Frank Wilcox Dr. Jennings
Oliver Blake Slenzka
George Chandler Max the Telegraph Operator
Bill Clauson Bellringer's Son
Roger Creed Soldier
Bert Davidson Bob Briggs
Art Dupuis Man
Herbert Evans Nobleman
Franklin Farnum Actor
Eula Guy Woman
Charles Miller Priest
James Pierce Actor
Harry "Snub" Pollard Actor
Thayer Roberts Earl of Warwick
Franz Roehn Cauchon
Sid Saylor Freddy Evans
Dorothy Sebastian Katie
Tom Stevenson Milton Wild
Ray Teal Koslick
Max Wagner Baggage Man
Regina Wallace Martha
Billy Wayne Tom Elmore
Ned Davenport Actor
Jim Nolan Ted Jones
Frank Ferguson Dolan the Director
Valli Cobb Actor

Technical Credits
Irving Pichel Director
Constantin Bakaleinikoff Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Hecht Screenwriter
Ralph Berger Art Director
DeWitt Bodeen Screenwriter
Robert de Grasse Cinematographer
Leigh Harline Score Composer
Jesse Lasky Producer
Walter MacEwen Producer
Charles O'Curran Choreography
Renie Costumes/Costume Designer
Quentin Reynolds Screenwriter
Elmo Williams Editor

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Miracle of the Bells
1. Chapter I [16:49]
2. Chapter II [12:24]
3. Chapter III [22:16]
4. Chapter IV [5:52]
5. Chapter V [8:34]
6. Chapter VI [13:18]
7. Chapter VII [23:49]
8. Chapter VIII [17:07]

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