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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: The Nun's Story with Audrey Hepburn

When I was a little boy, one of my favorite pastimes was dressing up as a nun. So, of course, when The Nun's Story was released in July 1959, I couldn't contain my joy, sisters! My mother had recently given birth to my brother, Bob, and was eager for a night out. He was left in care of my grandparents for just a few hours.

The film is directed by Fred Zimmerman (Julia) with epic sweep. Why, it wore me out, I tell you! I fell asleep somewhere after the uprising in the Congo sequence, bundled up in the back of the car at the drive-in.

Peter Finch co-stars as Audrey's love interest as she realizes she has romantic feelings that are incompatible with her vows. What to do? Especially since Finch plays the brilliant, atheist surgeon, Dr Fortunati.

The film is set during World War II, so there's that whole drama going on. Then there's the grueling novice life with Audrey polishing Mother Superior's shoes and scrubbing convent floors. Worst of all, there's Colleen Dewhurst chewing up the scenery and upstaging Audrey as a violent inmate in a loony bin ~ a role she excelled at! There are more big-drama moments in this film than you can shake a rosary at!

The supporting cast is excellent, including Edith Evans, Dean Jagger, Peggy Ashcroft, Mildred Dunnock and... Beatrice Straight?!

While respectful, The Nun's Story isn't the totally reverent film many think of it as. Its critical edge was enough to make the Catholic Church, at the time, not completely happy. They said it was suitable for Adults Only, but with Reservations. Hardly an endorsement. In fact, even I decided never to join the sisterhood since I saw it was far from the glitzy and glamorous life I'd imagined for myself. Shortly after watching this, I stopped dressing up as Sister Carlotta Francesca and packed my nun costume away for good. Sigh! The end of an era.

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