By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –
Jennifer Lawrence is one of the hottest young actresses working in Hollywood today. She won an Oscar at the age of 22 for Silver Linings Playbook, and has collaborated with David O. Russell multiple times. However, this film review celebrates the Oscar-winning performance of a very different “Jennifer”–Jennifer Jones. Jones won the Academy Award on her 25th birthday for The Song of Bernadette, the film that launched the long career of this beloved starlet. Even with limited acting experience at that time, Jennifer Jones helped make this film one of the best from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Obviously, the best part of this film is Jennifer Jones’s performance. She is able to capture the complexity of Bernadette Soubirous while also making the character very human and relatable. The film also features Oscar-nominated performances from Gladys Cooper, Anne Revere, and Charles Bickford for their supporting roles. The film also contains a hauntingly beautiful score from Alfred Newman that has an almost religious quality to it. The Song of Bernadette is so wonderful that it is no surprise that the Academy acknowledged it with twelve nominations.
Even with its acclaim, this film is actually a bit difficult to watch. That is because the subject matter is really heavy (religion). There are also a lot of tense moments throughout the film, such as when the other characters question Bernadette’s sanity. The film’s long running time does not help it, either, and some people might not want to devote 2 hours and 36 minutes to this black-and-white classic. Nevertheless, this film is still a great adaptation of Franz Werfel’s famous novel.
Films that deal with religion have always created controversy. Examples include Elmer Gantry (1960) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). Even with such topics, filmmaking grants artists the creative freedom to produce cinematic masterpieces. That undeniable truth is the reason why films like The Song of Bernadette have an enduring legacy. It is a blessing that David O. Selznick arranged for Jennifer Jones to appear in this film because it made her the “Jennifer Lawrence” of the 1940s.
The Song of Bernadette (1943) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Bernadette encounters the Virgin Mary
Take a Drink: every time Alfred Newman’s score sounds “heavenly” (pun intended)
Drink a Shot: for every symbolic use of water