The Miracle Woman - 1931

Directed By Frank Capra - released August 7, 1931

Barbara Stanwyck is Florence Fallon, star attraction at a less than ethical evangelical operation run by veteran con-artist Bob Hornsby (actor Sam Hardy). She got there by way of her bitter anger over the death of her reverend father at a church which he had served humbly for decades, and she has now taken her talent and knowledge to serve the confused purposes of making money and teaching a more visually stimulating gospel.

Along comes blind military veteran John Conner (actor David Manners), a man immune to the visual spectacle presented (or more accurately, manufactured) from behind the curtains at Fallon's religio-circus. Circumstances throw Fallon and Conners together, and over time she begins confiding in Conners (and he starts confessing to her, though rather surreptitiously by way of a handy ventriloquist dummy which is a character much bolder than Conner's can manage). Soon Hornsby is determined to break up this romance as it is starting to compel more honesty and reflection than he can stomach from Fallon, who has never understood the real depths of deception Hornsby has packaged for her to sell to audiences.

Though early in Capra's career, this is obviously his movie, from the Joseph Walker cinematography to the character development. The romance and melodrama is soggy in the same way which slowed down The Bitter Tea of General Yen and Forbidden, both made with Stanwyck. Ambitious and trying to handle serious issues, The Miracle Woman shows a step forward by Capra in attempting to meld together a topical subject with melodrama, seasoned with humor.

Original page January 2, 2016 | Updated Dec 2017

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