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THE MIRACLE (1959)

Article 3023 by Dave Sindelar 
Viewing Date: 8-17-2009
Posting Date: 11-23-2009
Directed by Irving Rapper and Gordon Douglas
Featuring Carroll Baker, Roger Moore, Walter Slezak
Country: USA

During the Napoleanic wars, a novitiate in a Spanish convent falls in love with an English soldier. She prays to a statue of the Madonna for a miracle, and when none is given, she tears off her nun's outfit, leaves the convent, turns against Christianity, and seeks her soldier. The statue comes to life, puts on the nun's outfit, and replaces the novitiate at the convent, while the ex-novitiate learns the price of turning against God.

Truth be told, I was expecting another one of those miracle movies akin to THE MIRACLE OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA, but that's hardly what this is like; they openly claim the story is a legend from the beginning, and it's more like a long Catholic-themed soap opera than anything else. It's overwrought and very Hollywoodish; it's one of those movie where all the nuns wear immaculate makeup and every random group of singing soldiers, peasants, or nuns sounds like they've had years of musical training. In particular, the symbolism is so blatantly obvious that it verges on camp (twice the heroine ends up literally with the blood of her lovers on her hands). The acting from the leads isn't particularly good, and Walter Slezak's role is a little too silly, but the movie is stolen by Torin Thatcher in a cameo as Wellington; he brings an authority to his role that is sorely missing from the rest of the movie. Before it's all through we get gypsy passion, bullfighting, Spanish dancing, the battle of Waterloo, a second miracle, and guilt-tripping galore. It's a little to silly to have real impact, but it is entertainingly watchable for all that, if a bit too long.

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