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Mar 10 2018

Retro Randomness: Come to the Stable (1949)

by Nathaniel R

Have you ever queued up an old movie no one talks about anymore hoping to discover a gem?

You imagine that it's only been forgotten or is underdiscussed due to the vagaries of when and where movies are available in the ever changing landcape of viewing technologies,Such was my fantasy when I sat down to watchCome to the Stable(1949).This French nuns in New England comedy was my biggest viewing gap in 1949 Oscar history.In fact,I didn't even know it was a comedy.

Alas the fantasy of stumbling upon a forgotten gem didn't last long.Still,Come to the Stable's tagline must have been true in 1949.It read...

The picture your heart will fall in love with..."

Peopledidfall in love with it.(Or at least their hearts did.Nun pictures aren't interested in the other body parts.Unless they'rethat kind of nun picture).

The Academy nominated it for an incredible but faintly inexplicable 7 Oscars,亚博主页though wisely they stopped short of the Best Picture honor.Loretta Young (my mother's favorite!) and Celeste Holm had both won Oscars on the same night two years earlier for亚博主页The Farmer's DaughterandGentleman's Agreementrespectively,so perhaps this was a breathlessly anticipated pairing?

Young and Holm play sisters from a French convent who travel to New England due to a vaguely defined promise Sister Margaret (Young) once made to God about building a children's hospital when she returned home to the States.There is precious little explanation given as to why the actual French nun Sister Scholastica (Holm) is with her.They must have had very loose rules for nuns in the 40s because wouldn't they be assigned to locations?Or is Hamlet's famous 'get thee to a nunnery' that vague on purpose because "a"nunnery implies that any location will do!

The nuns barrels through the picture with tunnel vision looking at that hospital goal and the comedy erupts from how loose their relation to traditional obstacles (like,oh,reality) actually is.They just assume God will clear the path for them and convince,say,a gangster to give up his real estate or that scads of money will appear in just 30 days and so on and so on.This being an inspirational picture,it mostly goes just as the nuns would like.For all its hokey predictably and pleasant but extremely simple performances (Oscar nominations???) the picture has its charms.That's mostly in the way the nuns are utterly blind to how difficult they make everyone else's lives around them,how unexpectedly tough the nuns invasion is on both the devout (Elsa Lanchester in the film's fussiest but also best turn) and the agnostic (Hugh Marlowe as a local composer with a totally endearing Great Dane as companion).

Have you seen this one?

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Reader Comments (23)

Nuns and priest were very popular on screen in the 1940's

March 10,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I love nun movies of the 40's but only when they are called Black Narcissus

March 10,2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

The gold standard of goody goody nuns will always be Ingrid Bergman in Bells of St Mary's.Come to the Stable (one of my late father's all-time favorites) is just cloying.Me,I'll stick with The Magdalene Sisters.

March 10,2018 | Unregistered Commenterken s

I have nothing to contribute - just wanted to say I loved this post and hope Retro Randomness becomes a consistent feature

March 10,2018 | Unregistered CommenterGoran

One thing I remember is how Holm's character turns out to be a great tennis player.I was also puzzled by the Oscar nominations for Young and Holm but there must have been a lot of residual goodwill from their recent wins.Good work catching up on your Oscar viewing gaps,Nathaniel.Now you're ready for a 1949 smackdown!

March 10,2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

March 10,2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

now dopinky

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I retro randommed into "Paper Moon"(enjoyable,but that's an Oscar worthy performance?!?!) and "Don't Look Now"(sllloooowww but creepy so far).

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

How interesting that you say Elsa Lanchester was the best turn!I remember when they did the Smackdown on StinkyLulu's site and the consensus was akin to "How in the hell was this performance nominated?"

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

I love this movie lol.It's difficult to find,but it used to turn up on on tv around the holidays when I was a kid.It's utterly charming,though I agree that Oscar's notice is a bit bewildering.Celeste is really fun in this.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I haven't seen this movie,but it's one of a number of semi-forgotten,or at least rather neglected,films with a large number of nominations that I haven't seen and want to.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Same as brookesboy,this was an afternoon movie favorite during the holidays as a kid.

My sister and I also got a kick out of the fact that Hugh Marlowe was now that older guy one of our favorite soaps,NBC's "Another World."

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterrick gould

Loretta Young was my mother's favourite as well!She had an unusual career arc.Her most interesting films and performances came during the first and last phase of her film career,not during what are usually the most productive years in the middle.Early on,she brought a natural sexiness and intuitive acting style to pre-code films like Platinum Blonde,Taxi,Midnight Mary,and Heroes For Sale.Later in her career,she found good parts in films like the Bishop's Wife,The Farmer's Daughter,The Accused,and even the low budget Cause For Alarm.

Come To The Stable is a pleasant time killer from a long-gone era.I don't understand why it got all the Oscar love in nominations.The characters are thin,the story is predictable,and the direction is ordinary.Maybe it was seen as relief from the darkness that was creeping into movies with film noir and the increasing focus on real issues facing the filmgoers.

It still seems to be viewed with some fondness today.It's got a 7.3 rating on IMDB.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames Canada

It's such an odd film,both exactly what you think it will be,and then completely ordinary in it's execution (if the only thing we have to second guess what the film would be like is the Oscars you might think 7 nominations would be a near-masterpiece).亚博主页

For me 'The Farmer's Daughter' is one of those rare forgotten gems,at times relatively forward thinking in it's sexual politics,and with lovely lived in performances across the cast.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Loretta Young should have played Uma's grandma!

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I watch this one every so often during the holidays.It has its charms and I will watch almost anything with Elsa Lanchester.The Oscar nominations unfortunately create expectations that this film,while nicely diverting,cannot meet.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterBGK

"Don't Look Now"is great thriller and Venice has never looked creepier on film

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

@ par- yes do Pinky!That is a fascinating movie.The central female performances are very good.Unfortunately,it was a very competitive year.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I love this Retro Randomness idea.I'm always looking at old newspaper movie ad pages for my research and it's AMAZING how many seemingly big studio movies came out in the 30s,40s,and even 50s that have been completely forgotten.I've often thought I should try to just randomly track one down and see what gives,and basically,now you're doing it.Keep going.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella

I like it!I mean,it's awfully modest stuff but I'll gladly take it over say,GOING MY WAY and THE BELLS OF ST.MARY'S.The performances are no more Oscar-caliber than the likes of Whoopi and Dame Maggie in SISTER ACT but '49 was a ghost town in both Lead and Supporting Actress,so I can't entirely fault the Academy for recognizing these beloved ladies,even if the roles are slight as can be.

Holm in Supporting,as opposed to Lead,is kind of perplexing,though,

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I'm surprised no one from A Letter to Three Wives received attention.Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest or Joan Crawford in Flamingo Road could have been options.I suppose the Academy really liked actresses playing nuns.

Any opportunity to discuss cinema pre-1970 is welcome so thank you Nat for your retro randomness.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick T

First-LOVE the Retro Randomness feature!!Hope to see it pop up frequently.

Second-I have seen this goo fest and was stunned that it made such an inroad into the Academy's graces.When I saw it it was also my biggest '49 blindspot and I expected to at least find it pleasant but ended up mystified by it's reputation.

Honestly I have to say I'm not a post-code Loretta Young fan when she lost her carnal spark and hardened into a synthetic mannequin,how the hell she ever won an Oscar is beyond my understanding.So this was starting out at a disadvantage but it was so puerile that even if it had starred an actress I admired I have serious doubts I would have liked the film.Outside of enjoying Elsa Lanchester (who I'm always happy to see but who didn't deserve her nomination either) and thinking Holm's character name of Sister Scholastica is great I thought the film worthless.

The bitterest pill of all is knowing that this sludge and the ordinary performances contained within shut out truly worthy work by Joan Bennett in The Reckless Moment,Linda Darnell in A Letter to Three Wives and Yvonne de Carlo in Criss Cross from being nominated in Best Actress (though at least Olivia de Havilland the proper winner took the prize).

Same goes for supporting where Lucille Ball (Easy Living),Connie Gilchrist (A Letter to Three Wives),Judy Holliday (Adam's Rib),Elizabeth Patterson (Intruder in the Dust) and Margaret Wycherly (White Heat) would have all made far worthier competitors than Holm and Lanchester.Particularly Wycherly who should have given Mercedes McCambridge a real run for the prize.

March 11,2018 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Sounds like the kind of thing made to please the censors.Bible studies and nun stories packed 'em in because the vast swaths of religious families out there would all truck over to see them after church on Sunday.Grandma couldn't complain about them being the devil's work,etc.And then Catholic schools would show them in auditoriums years later,and I know grandparents who raised daughters super strict Catholic where they were only allowed to watch shit like Sound of Music,The Quiet Man,and Going my Way on TV as kids.These are the kind of people eager for this sort of thing.No offense to them,of course,or to the buttoned-down zealotry of Loretta Young,but certainly to Hollywood for cranking this shizz out by the truckload for the dual purpose of money and prestige -The Oscars are still shedding the holy glow off themselves even years later亚博主页

March 13,2018 | Unregistered CommenterErich Kuersten

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