The Miracle of the Bells (1948)

Fred MacMurray, Alida Valli, Frank Sinatra, Lee J. Cobb,
The Miracle of the Bells is a movie starring Fred MacMurray, Alida Valli, and Frank Sinatra. Granting her final request, a Hollywood press agent brings the dead body of an actress, who died after making her first and only film, back...
  • 6.6 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Russell Janney, Ben Hecht, Quentin Reynolds, DeWitt Bodeen, Writer:
  • Irving Pichel, Director:
  • Jesse Lasky Jr., Producer:

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10 / 10

The Bells Ring for the Cast

"The Miracle of the Bells" is a gem of a movie. It is Fred MacMurray's best role and best movie. He plays a burned-out publicist, who helps an aspiring actress attain (Alida Valli) a movie role, watches her die, then travels with her body to her hometown. He covers all the emotions in this movie: toughness, worldliness, anger, kindness, love, contempt, and deceit.

This is Ms. Valli's second best role and movie. The first was "The Third Man". Frank Sinatra plays the priest and this is his first dramatic part. He is very good in the role. He even sings a little.

It is a lovely movie about dreams and miracles.

7 / 10

Not Quite A Miracle, But Close

Maltin's "guide", which should be called a "MIS-Guide", oh so generously bestows this film with a whopping star and a half. The truth is this is a fine piece of film-making, a tad unwieldy at times and perhaps 20 minutes overlong, but made with a high level of care and craft. There are many moving, poignant scenes, particularly one set early on at Christmas time. MacMurray and Valli unexpectedly run into each other and proceed to share a relaxed and blissfully unrehearsed Christmas Eve dinner at a Chinese restaurant that they have all to themselves (not unlike in the more recent A Christmas Story). The chemistry between the two and the restaurant's benevolent Asian owner is nearly heavenly.

The film has that irresistible Citizen Kane-ish structure where a character is gradually revealed and only truly understood AFTER their death. It also is refreshing in its positive depiction of religion and the important role it plays in so many people's lives. And it does so without insulting those in the audience who may not happen to be a member of that faith (Catholicism) or suggest that because they are not, that they're going to hell. If only more of today's film-makers had such courage and insight.

Performance-wise I was most impressed with Fred MacMurray who clearly invested a lot emotionally in his character. Valli is fine as the angelic aspiring actress and Lee J. Cobb is commanding as always as a studio mogul with more integrity than one might expect. Frank Sinatra as a devout small town priest? He's not bad but he hadn't yet been influenced by Montgomery Clift's method acting style in From Here To Eternity, and he comes across as a mite green for the part.

Quality work. Maltin's off by a star or two once again.

8 / 10

Worth Seeing


In this film a publicity man is escorting a woman body back to her hometown. In flashbacks we see who this woman was. In a nutshell she is an actress who just finished her 1st starring role. The day after the film is completed she passes away. The man escorting her body however is very sad. See not only did he never tell her how he felt about her he found out the studio is going to not release film. They are going to remake it.

The film today is dated. Most people will get hired of hearing Fred MacMurray ending almost every sentence with "Baby". Putting that aside the film is still very good. It is a winner!

8 / 10

Fred MacMurray leading man, does it again...

Looking back to favorite movies, I never realized what a fan I was of Fred MacMurray. This is another film of his I liked alot. Comedy, action, or drama, Fred gets the job done.

It gets 'laid on' pretty thick in this drama, schmaultzy comes to mind, but it's one to see. There were a string of 'miracle' movies made around this time, but 'Miracle of the Bells' lets you decide for yourself about this miracle, and there is more than just the obvious one.

You will get to see a movie in a movie, the reformation of MacMurray's publicist character, and even Frank Sinatra as a priest. I can think of worse ways to spend a lazy afternoon. See it if you can....

8 / 10

Believing in Miracles

A film I had never seen before, and it is highly recommended for all those who believe in faith and miracles. A Hollywood press agent, Fred MacMurray, inspires a new actress to attain higher goals in movies; she is played by Valli, who underplays her role with much emotion. Lee J. Cobb plays the tough producer and director. She dies just before the film ends, so the film is shelved by the money men. But this press agent believes in her and goes back to her hometown of Coaltown, PA where there are only a few old churches. One of them is Catholic, and Frank Sinatra plays the Catholic priest, who the press agent tries to get him and all the other pastors and ministers of the other churches to ring their bells constantly at her funeral. The day comes and the Catholic Church is loaded with townspeople who witness angelic sculptures in the pulpit turning to look at the body of the actress, and causing a national stir of publicity. All of this causes the producer director to come to terms and release the film publicly. But there is more involved in this film because it shows how sincerely faith of any kind can cause miracles to happen. I found this film to be highly entertaining and highly underrated for the period of time it was made in 1948