The Bishop Misbehaves - 1935
Released September 13, 1935. Directed by E. A. Dupont
"Mystery" movies of the thirties often used a story-telling technique unique to the mystery genre at that time that incorporated a sense of "cuteness" and self-awareness (something lost almost entirely by the time of the advent of "noir" films) about the improbabilities in the plot of a mystery tale. The Bishop Misbehaves has this peculiar 1930s attitude, but Edmund Gwenn's portrayal of a cleric who is also a mystery novel aficionado uses these unserious aspects to build toward something deeper. As the story becomes more complex and the threats to the principals (Gwenn, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lucile Watson, Reginald Owen) increase, Gwenn shifts the comedic aspects of the tale into a springboard for the Bishop to seriously contemplate his role as a priest, his fannish concentration on detective stories and how this may have disturbed his sense of duty, and what is the best way to serve his congregation and others, provided he survives. Not a bad trick for an otherwise light-hearted romp around a Hollywoodian England full of fog and funny dialogue.
Original page Dec 2019