Best Movies by Farr

Holiday Movie Night:
The Bishop's Wife

The Rundown: "The Bishop's Wife"

What's It About
When Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) prays for money to build a desired new cathedral, his prayers are answered with the Yuletide arrival of guardian angel Dudley (Cary Grant). Quietly and unobtrusively, Dudley helps re-align the bishop's priorities and revive his marriage to wife Julia (Young), who never realizes that Dudley's heaven-sent.
Why we Love it
Nominated for Best Film at the 1947 Oscars, Henry Koster's sweet, thoroughly charming "Bishop's Wife" was a big crowd-pleaser in its day, and has since become one of our more cherished holiday films. Cary Grant was never smoother playing Dudley, the most debonair of angels. Co-starring David Niven and a dazzling Loretta Young as the title character, this joyful, witty film still has something to say about keeping the spirit of Christmas alive all year round.

Where can I find the movie?

Available on Amazon
DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download
1 hour 50 minutes

FarrNotes: Secret Behind the Scenes Trivia to Wow Your Guests!

  • Filmed in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • The original director, William A. Seiter, was abruptly fired a few weeks into filming (and replaced by Henry Koster) because Samuel Goldwyn didn't like what had been shot. The decision to start the film over again was a costly one — $1 million had already been spent!
  • The main lead actors started out in the reverse roles! Originally, Cary Grant played the bishop and David Niven the angel. However, when new director Henry Koster viewed what had been already shot and instantly knew the two actors had been cast in the wrong roles, and had to make the switch. (Though Grant took some convincing — he wanted the title role!)
  • This was Cary Grant’s 51st credited film!
  • Early audiences didn't like the movie! So Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were brought in to rewrite some scenes, uncredited.
  • Oops! When Dudley dictates the Christmas sermon, we see, typed onto the paper: "You give me a tie. I give you a book." But, when the Bishop gives the sermon on Christmas Morning, he reverses the sentences and reads, "I give you a book. You give me a tie."
  • Many might recognize the remake of this movie, "The Preacher’s Wife" (1996) with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. Though we obviously prefer the original.
  • The movie didn’t perform well at the box office at first. Market research showed that audiences perceived the movie to be religious, so Goldwyn retitled the film "Cary and the Bishop's Wife" for some US markets and adding a big text box that read "Have you heard of CARY AND THE BISHOP’S WIFE?" on the posters that kept the original title.
  • Grant's star power increased the film's success by 25%.


Holiday Cranberry Pot Roast

  • Courtesy of: Feasting at Home
  • We recommend serving alongside mashed potatoes for a warm and hearty festive meal!
  • Wine Pairing: Pot roast is a wine-friendly meal, and can pair well with most reds. Any medium to full-bodied red will match the dish nicely. Why a nice Bordeaux or a great Syrah.

Angel Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

  • Courtesy of: Natural Comfort Kitchen
  • Angels will surely join you when you serve their favorite treat, cupcakes made from light, fluffy cake, topped with a heavenly rich buttercream icing.

Drinks & Cocktails

Heavenly Cocktail: The Stinger

Cocktail courtesy of the Midnight Mixologist.

Even angels enjoy a perfectly mixed drink, and sophisticated seraph, Dudley, orders himself a Stinger. A classic 40s cocktail, a Stinger blends brandy and crème de menthe for a warming, wintery tipple.

  • 1 ½ oz Brandy
  • ½ oz white crème de menthe
In a shaker glass with ice, pour in brandy and crème de menthe. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

What's The Score?

The perfect soundtrack for your movie night!

  • The Robert Mitchell Boy's Choir: The Mitchell Boy's Choir appeared in twenty films between 1938 and 1958, including "The Bishop's Wife." Check out their newly re-mastered classics on iTunes.
  • Radio Hits of 1947: From Ted Weems' "Heartaches" to Perry Como's "Chi-Baba," 1947 was a great year for music. Set the radio dial for retro classics, available on iTunes.
  • A Merry Christmas with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters: Get the yuletide party hopping with some of the most popular Christmas songs of all time, sung by America's beloved voices of the era, the Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby. Buy it now on iTunes.

What to Wear?

The Best Movies by Farr Wardrobe Department

In the years following WWII, the sense of austerity that had governed fashion trends was beginning to dissipate and give way to the renaissance of haute couture. Dior's "New Look" was now ushering in the round shoulders and sweeping skirts that would later evolve to define the silhouette of the 1950s. Women's looks, reacting to the "uniform" styles of the war years, began to soften. Men's suits were broad-shouldered, often featuring broad lapels and fuller trousers — a response to the end of wartime fabric restrictions.

Shop the Look

Try this angelic dress in silver lace. By Vera Wang. All that's missing is a pair of wings to take you anywhere you want to go!

  • Vera Wang Dress
  • $380
Get it at Bloomingdales
Hats were essential for men and women in the 1940s, and nothing speaks to the era like a felt fedora. Get into character with "The Bishop's Wife," and channel your inner Loretta Young by putting on this smart hat.

PS. Don't forget to share photos of your big night on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #BestMovieNights!

Holiday Cranberry Pot Roast

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ¼-2 ½ pounds chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery
  • 12 oz bag fresh cranberries (or 4 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 Cup ruby port (any inexpensive kind-found at most grocery stores)
  • 2 Cups beef stock
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 T Whole Mustard seeds (optional)
  1. Pre heat oven to 350F
  2. Heat oil in an oven proof dutch oven, over medium high heat. Rub chuck roast with salt and pepper on all sides, and brown all sides very well.
  3. While meat is browning, dice the onion, celery and carrots.
  4. Once meat is nicely browned on all sides, set it aside on a plate.
  5. Add onion, celery and carrot, to the same pan, turn heat to medium and sauté until they soften, about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add cranberries, port, beef stock, sugar, thyme, and mustard seeds (optional) and give a stir.
  7. Nestle meat into the middle, bring to a simmer, cover tightly and place in the oven.
  8. Bake for 3 hours (or longer if a bigger cut of meat) Meat should be fork tender, and cranberry port sauce, reduced.
  9. Serve over horseradish mash potatoes with a little cranberry sauce over top.

Angel Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Cupcake Ingredients
  • ¾ C egg whites (from 6 large eggs)
  • 3 oz. sifted powdered sugar
  • 2.5 oz. sifted cake flour (I used King Arthur unbleached cake flour blend)
  • ⅛ t salt (preferably table salt)
  • ¾ t cream of tartar
  • 6 T granulated sugar (1/4 C + 2 T; fine granules--it's best not to use organic here)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Icing Ingredients
  • ½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ C sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. good white chocolate, finely chopped (such as Ghirardelli baking bars)
  • 2 t whole milk or heavy cream
Cupcake Instructions
  1. While the eggs are cold, separate and reserve the egg whites. Adjust the quantity of eggs slightly if needed to reach ¾ C whites. It's very important that the whites are completely free of yolk and shell, or they may not "fluff" when beating them later. Cover the egg whites and bring to room temperature (around 70 degrees F) for 1½ to 2 hours.
  2. While the egg temperature rises, measure the flour and powdered sugar, then sift them together with the salt. Measure cream of tartar, sugar, and vanilla each into separate bowls so they're ready to add to the mixer while it's running.
  3. Have a nonstick cupcake pan ready (see notes).
  4. When the eggs are ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F), and add eggs to a completely clean metal or glass bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium low speed (4 of 10) until frothy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add cream of tartar, increase speed 1 "notch" (6 of 10) and beat until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. You should turn off the mixer to check this when the eggs look close, to make sure you don't overbeat them into stiff peaks. After confirming, resume beating at medium low speed (a 4, again), adding a tablespoon of sugar about every 30 seconds. Beat another minute after adding the last of the sugar, then check for only slightly stiffer peaks. They should not be completely stiff. The process of adding sugar and beating for an additional minute took me 4 minutes. Egg temperature will impact mixing times, so watch for the signs indicated, even if it takes a minute or two longer to get there.
  5. Gently drizzle vanilla over surface of the egg mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated.
  6. In four batches, sprinkle the dry ingredient mixture over the surface of the batter and use a rubber spatula to gently fold by hand until incorporated smoothly. Be patient with the folding--it's necessary to keep the air pockets, the only leavening agent in angel food, in the batter.
  7. Use a spring ice cream scoop or one third cup measure to evenly distribute all the batter amongst 12 cupcake wells. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until tops are golden and spring back slightly when touched. Don't open the oven until you suspect the cakes are close to being done.
  8. If using an unlined nonstick pan, cool the cupcakes upside down, with the pan carefully propped at each corner on a can or other level items. Remove cupcakes from pan once cooled. If not using liners, slide a small paring knife around the outside of each cupcake to loosen it. I also used a large spoon to sort of scoop the cupcake out of the well gently.
  9. Once cooled completely, frost or wrap individually in plastic wrap (see notes).
Icing Instructions
  1. Place white chocolate in a completely dry glass bowl set over a saucepan of water (water shouldn't touch bottom of bowl). Heat over medium (to eventually simmer the water), stirring more frequently with a rubber or silicone heat-safe spatula as the chocolate begins to melt. When almost completely melted, remove bowl to a towel or potholder, careful not to get any water in the chocolate. Continue stirring until fully melted, then allow to cool while you start the icing.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter at medium high speed until lightened and creamy, a minute or two. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla until incorporated.
  3. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, reducing mixer speed to low when initially adding the sugar, so it doesn't fly everywhere. Increase speed to fully incorporate, then repeat the process until all the sugar is added. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. With the mixer running on low speed, constantly drizzle in the melted, cooled white chocolate until fully incorporated. Don't turn up the speed on the mixer; the goal is to stir in the chocolate. Add milk or cream and beat on low speed, to soften the frosting slightly. If you prefer a more liquid consistency, add more milk a teaspoon at a time.
  5. Work with the frosting immediately, frosting the cupcakes by hand or using a bag and frosting/decorating tip as I did (you can see in the photo, my setup is nothing fancy--a heavy duty resealable plastic bag with icing tip inserted). Alternately, refrigerate icing in airtight container, then bring almost to room temperature before using, to soften the frosting.

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"