Loretta Young, one of Hollywood's most respected actresses had one of her greatest roles as the assured and determined Sister Margaret in Twentieth Century Fox's 1949 "Come to the Stable" a beautiful story of two women's determination and sheer belief in the rightness of what they are seeking in their work for others. Loretta Young, a staunch catholic in real life is one of those rare actresses in a league with the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Deborah Kerr and Audrey Hepburn , that seem totally convincing as nuns whether it be in their displays of humility in portraying their characters or just by the total immersion that they undergo when taking on the nun role.
"Come to the Stable" tells a very simple but extremely moving story based on a short story by Clare Booth Luce, of the journey that two nuns, one American and one french, make to fulfill a solemn vow made during World War 2. Resulting from the fact that through prayer to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of lost causes, their hospital was spared destruction by the advancing forces the two make a vow to return to America to set up a similiar hospital for young infants in Bethlehem, Connecticut where they have learnt of a woman who paints very beautiful religious paintings. After finding the right place atop a serene hill with perfect views of the town the nuns with very little money, very few propects and with a strong unquestioning faith proceed to achieve everything that has become their lifes work. Their journey from a hopeless situation with no funds to build the hospital or obtain the land, to one that inspires others to get involved to achieve the dream of the new hospital makes for inspirational viewing and puts across the strong message of the basic good of all people if you only take the time to look for it. In their drive to fulfill their aim the nun's encounter some interesting characters who's lives they alter in very positive ways. Miss Potts played by Elsa Lancaster in a wonderful performance is a lonely spinister who loves to paint and finds her whole life turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of the nuns on her door step. She for the first time finds a real purpose to her existence as she involves herself totally in the plans of Sister Margaret and Sister Scholastica (Celeste Holm). In their search for land to build the church on the sisters find themselves travelling to New York where they encounter small time con man Luigi Rossi who after hearing their story not only gives them a sizable donation but also the deed to the land with the promise that a commerative stained glass window will be installed in memory of his son who was lost in the war not far from where the sisters nursed in Northern France. His transformation from a small time hood to a man with a conscience is only one of the miracles that the nuns work in their dealings with others. Hugh Marlowe plays the nuns new and indeed quite unhappy neighbour Robert Mason who despite being against the idea of a hospital literally in his backyard finds himself helping the nuns and in a crucial situation where the nuns find themselves short of financing for their repayments, chips in and ensures the sisters dream becomes a reality.
Directed with a sentimental but sure hand by veteran director Henry Koster who was responsible for such diverse efforts as "Harvey", "Flower Drum Song"' and "The Robe", the representation of what strong belief can do to achieve great things either big or small in ones life is always the central theme of "Come to the Stable". Loretta Young as Sister Margaret was an inspirational choice as the lead in a role originally intended for Irene Dunne. She is everything a nun should be, strong, gracious, determined, and a firm believer in the basic good in man. Her's is a superb performance which quite rightly received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress. Equally honoured is the beautifully unplayed performance of Celeste Holm in the role of French nun Sister Scholastica, Sister Margaret's helper who in a comical moment reveals herself in a past life to have been a top class French tennis player in a scene where she is forced to play in full nun's habit for high stakes, namely a large badly needed donation to the building fund!
Such beautifully put together films as "Come to the Stable" often make me wonder what Hollywood is really doing nowadays as such delicate themes as guiding faith and divine providence, would not be able to be made nowadays what with the harsh reality of most modern screenplays. I never fail to be touched by this story or by the wonderful performance by Loretta Young in the lead. It is a heart warming viewing experience for anyone who has ever had avow to fulfill or a dream to pursue. Watch this film and be inpired as I always am to try and fulfill my dreams while enjoying an terrific excursion back to movie making as it used to be.