The Miracle Woman (1931)

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The Miracle Woman: Directed by Frank Capra. With Barbara Stanwyck, David Manners, Sam Hardy, Beryl Mercer. After an unappreciated minister dies, his daughter loses her faith in God, prompting her to open a phony temple with a con man. Can the love of a blind aviator restore her faith and happiness?

“Many of Caprau0026#39;s films point out the nobility of small town America, but here he seems to be doing just the opposite – bringing to light how one small town has just fired their preacher for the unpardonable sin of aging and hired a younger man to replace him without a backwards glance to the consequences to the displaced older man. The old preacher dies dictating his last sermon. We donu0026#39;t see this but we hear it from his daughter Florence played by Barbara Stanwyck. The farewell sermon she gives the parishioners has them walking out – or should I say running – as she calls them murderers, thieves, adulterers, closet drunks – being the preacheru0026#39;s daughter she knows where the bodies are buried and she tells them. A con man is in the congregation for some reason and he says if she wants to get even – and rich – she should run a faith healing con on this same type of small town hypocrite. The world is full of them according to her mentor. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe plan works – Florence is as fiery as a fake preacher as she was as a real one and soon the two are rolling in dough with the help of lots of paid fakers. What makes it easy is that the crowd seems to be there for a circus more than a sermon and they do certainly get their moneyu0026#39;s worth and ask no questions. However, Florence soon has double trouble on her hands. It turns out that her mentor has a darker side than she figured on who keeps her on a very short leash, and then there is the appearance into her life of a man who was blinded in WWI – David Manners as John, a failed songwriter, who claims one of her radio sermons kept him from jumping from his high rise apartment window to his death.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhat is good about this film? Stanwyck of course. Just a couple of years after sound came into films the lady is fire and ice with the spoken word. Plus even in these early films Capra is visiting the themes of depression, class warfare, suicide, the forgotten man, the power of the individual, and the madness and fickleness of the mob – all which show up in his later efforts.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWhat holds the film back is the rather unexplained relationship between Mannersu0026#39; and Stanwycku0026#39;s characters. There just doesnu0026#39;t seem to be any reason for them to be together other than that each would be completely alone in the world as far as human comfort goes without the other due to their isolated existences. In spite of that, their relationship and scenes together are believable.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOverall, this film does a good job of exploring the fact that for those who lose their faith, itu0026#39;s usually not God thatu0026#39;s hard to love but rather the people He created due to their overall indifference towards anything outside of their own little world.”


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