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John M. Stahl
In 1858 France, Bernadette, an adolescent peasant girl, has a vision of "a beautiful lady" in the city dump. She never claims it to be anything other than this, but the townspeople all assume it to be the virgin Mary. The pompous government officials think she is nuts, and do their best to suppress the girl and her followers, and the church wants nothing to do with the whole matter. But as Bernadette attracts wider and wider attention, the phenomenon overtakes everyone in the town, and transforms their lives.Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was Jennifer Jones' comeback film, her first under her new screen name after previously acting as Phyllis Isley. She had taken several years off to get married and have children, later getting divorced. See more »
The scene where Bernadette kisses the feet of the Virgin Mary did not happen. The actual grotto shows that the niche where the blessed mother was seen is to high to reach by any human. See more »
The opening titles include "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." See more »
The Spanish-language version (available on the DVD) does not use the Academy Award-winning Alfred Newman score. The entire score, except for two of the "vision" sequences, is replaced with music from an uncredited composer. See more »
"For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation will suffice." Thus, 20th Century Fox made clear it's stance on the incident involving a poor ignorant peasant girl from the western Pyrenees who one early spring witnessed a vision of a "beautiful lady". Fox decidedly erred in favor of Bernadette's 'marion apparition'. But it wasn't because the mammoth studio had gone all pious suddenly. It's that the demographs showed that a vast number of potential audiences across the country had for the longest time gone untapped. The Catholics. What's more, the time seemed right to bring out the religious angle in a time of war. We looked to God for peacetime but raking in hefty profits at the boxoffice for such a sacred cause wasn't a bad idea either. Fox found their inspirational story from a most unlikely source who's own true-life story would have made a compelling screenplay. Franz Werfel , an orthodox Jew, had taken flight from the Nazis. He needed desperately to be reunited with his wife in America by seeking out those who would help along the way. Stopping to rest in his escape in Lourdes which bordered occupied France and neutral Spain, he found the people very sympathetic, hiding him from the Germans until he was given safe passage to the US. It is in Lourdes that he learned of Bernadette Souibirous and made a promise to God that if ever he should leave Europe alive, he would tell Bernadette's extraordinary story. It must've been a case of 'from Werfel's lips to God's ears' because that's just exactly what happened. In preparing the galleys for his book on Bernadette's account, the suits at Fox got wind of it and bought the rights to the film even before the publisher had the book on the stands which would become an enormous best seller in 1943. This was Jennifer Jones first leading role in a major film and few of us, I believe, could deny that her sensitive portrayal was nothing short of a miracle. A convincing harrowing portrayal of a pious ingenue without ever once being mawkish. Now that's walking a tight rope between instinct and skill. The rest of the cast is uniformly fine especially Anne Revere as Louise Soubirous (whose brilliant career would run afoul of the House Commitee for Un-American Activities, labeled a communist sympathizer). As for the real-life Bernadette, she was canonized in 1933, the same year it was decided to remove her remains to Never. Something even more startling however is that when her remains were disinterred some seventy-five years after her burial, she was found virtually in tact an incorruptible. Needless to say, the Church had all the justification it needed in declaring her a saint. And to this very day many who 'believe in God' make pilgrimages to the little grotto where the vision took place and the spring which brought about so many miraculous cures. There is in all this an interesting bit of irony though. The uncredited role of the 'beautiful lady' went to Fox contract player Linda Darnell who would have a brief but successful career playing 'bad girls'.
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