Five Films About Nuns
The Indie release, The Little Hours, coming out on June 30, takes place in a medieval convent where a young, runaway, servant (Dave Franco) takes refuge. The early buzz on the film has been good and it will be joining a cinematic tradition of nuns and convent life on screen.
The Bells of Saint Mary’s (1945) Directed by Leo Carey (The Awful Truth, An Affair to Remember), starring screen legends Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman as respectively a priest and nun who despite a good-hearted rivalry work together to save an inner city school. It was a massive commercial success grossing over $8 million on its initial run making it the highest grossing movie of 1945 and the most profitable film in the history of RKO. It also won the Academy Award for Best Sound Recording and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Director.
Agnes of God (1985) Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof, and Moonstruck) directed this mystery drama based on the stage play of the same name. Young novice Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly) is found directly after giving birth with a dead infant she insists was the result of a virgin conception. Psychiatrist Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda) is assigned to assess Agnes’s state of mind and she quickly comes to clash with Mother Superior Miriam (Anne Bancroft). Tilly won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and was also nominated for an Academy Award in the category as well.
Sister Act (1992) Emile Ardolino (Dirty Dancing) directed this American musical comedy. Whoopi Goldberg stars as Deloris a Reno lounge singer who sees her married mobster lover shoot a guy. The local police decide the safest place for her is to hide her in a convent in San Francisco under the alias of Sister Mary Clarence. ‘Sister Mary’ soon becomes choir director and begins turning things upside down in the parish as her ex-flame seeks high and low to find her. It was a huge box office smash grossing over $200 million worldwide on a $30 million budget and generally well received by critics.
Dead Man Walking (1995) Tim Robbins directed and adapted the screenplay for this movie from the non-fiction book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean who has worked as a spiritual counselor to death row prisoners. Susan Sarandon stars as Sister Helen in a role that won her an Oscar and Sean Penn gives an astonishing performance as unrepentant killer Matthew Poncelot. The movie holds a current fresh rating of 95% from Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Song.
The Madgalene Sisters (2002) Peter Mullan wrote and directed this heart-breaking and infuriating Irish-British drama about three teenage girls sent to the Magdalene Asylums (otherwise known as Magdalene laundries) for ‘fallen women.’ The cast includes Anne-Marie Duff (The Virgin Queen, Suffragette) as young heroine Margaret and five time Olivier Award nominee Geraldine McEwan as the evil Sister Bridget. The characters themselves are composites, but their stories horrifically are quite real. It was one of the biggest commercial successes in Ireland that year, won the Golden Lion at Venice, and holds a 90% fresh rating on the Tomatometer.