The Song of Bernadette

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The Song of Bernadette is an intriguing movie about a teenager in France who claims to see “the lady,” who is supposedly the Virgin Mary.  The young girl never states this connection, though, but others say it for her, leading to what is now known as the miracle at Lourdes.

The result of Bernadette’s claims leads to all kinds of conflict in town.  Many believe her and believe in the miracle, while others are cynical.  It all leads to a life full of controversy for the one woman.

The black and white film from 1943 is full of factual information as well as creative Hollywood fantasy, so as is often the case, you cannot take all of what you see is truth.  Of prime example, there apparently was not a young suitor as is included in the production.

Jennifer Jones starred as Bernadette, though she was much older than 16 which was Bernadette’s age.  Jones was listed as “introducing” but she had actually done several films under her birth name of Phyllis Isley. Regardless, she did a superior job in a difficult role, and she won the Academy Award for her efforts.

Charles Bickford is very good as Father Peyramale, who is skeptical like others at first but ends up believing in the young woman, often protecting her from the villains of the piece.  Bickford had the perfect demeanor and stature for this role.  It was excellent casting.

Vincent Price is both scary and memorable as  Prosecutor Vital Dutour.  While intimidating at the beginning, you get another side of him at the end.  His is perhaps the most ironic of all the characters in the township.

Lee J. Cobb also makes an impression as Dr. Dozous, who is skeptical until faced with what he cannot deny.

Then there is Gladys Cooper as Sister Marie Therese Vauzous, and from what I have read, this portrayal is right on and the account is pretty factual.  A nun full of envy who ends up repentant and devoted to the one she was filled with such contempt for.  It is just amazing.

I always feel incredibly reverent watching this movie, but I am not Catholic.  I just feel the story and am amazed by the truth behind it.


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