The Trouble With Angels [DVD] [1966]

American popular culture has never known what to do with nuns. Well, almost never -- there were Lilies of the Field and The Bells of St. Mary's, but the latter was produced and directed by Leo McCarey, a devout, true-believing Catholic. The The Trouble With Angels has a split personality about nuns. Oh, in the end Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) makes a decision to join them, and Mary and her comrade-in-arms Rachel Devery (June Harding) both seem hopelessly ignorant for mid-'60s teenagers (with Rachel, in particular, an ignoramus of the highest order); but from a commercial standpoint, the audience at which it was really aimed identified with the hijinks that make the lives of the nuns at St. Francis Academy such a challenge, if not downright miserable. Director Ida Lupino and the script obviously sympathized with the sisters, but the very fact that there was a rather less serious sequel shows that the producers recognized that one miscalculation in the first movie. The defining scene in the movie is the one in which one of the girls remarks, "The only difference between this place and a girl's reformatory is the tuition." The movie comes to us from Columbia-TriStar Home Video in a full-screen transfer, which is not the way to see it. (The film was shot in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the image seems cramped at the edges in many of the scenes, especially in any shots with more than two or three actors.) Otherwise, the transfer is bright and clean, with lots of detail even in the mostly unlit night shots. The best looking shots of all are also the most dramatic, involving Rosalind Russell, many of them with Marge Redmond. There is a minimal supplement that includes the trailers for a brace of more recent movies for younger audiences -- oddly enough, the sequel to this one, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, is not among them. The 111-minute movie gets a very generous 28 chapters.
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Special Features

  • Trialers
  • Closed Captioned


The Trouble With Angels
The Trouble With Angels opens on the first day of school for a new batch of students at St. Francis Academy, run by a very strong-willed Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell). She is used to having things her way, but she may have met her match in the headstrong and independent Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) and her newfound friend, Rachel Devery (June Harding). Mary, easily bored and ready to rebel at the drop of a hat, comes up with an endless series of "scathingly brilliant" schemes designed either to amuse her and Rachel, torture insufferable schoolmate Marvel-Ann, or in some way help them get ahead. Rachel, who would never come up with such ideas on her own, is delighted to go along with them. The duo starts right away by convincing several of the girls to join them in giving fake names to the sisters that register them. Future escapades include guided tours of the nuns' living quarters, illicit cigarette smoking that brings about the fire brigade, replacing sugar with soap bubbles, and many others. Several times the Mother Superior is on the brink of expelling the girls, but she relents, knowing something of their home lives and that they will benefit from the more nurturing environment of the school. By the end of the film, the girls have indeed grown, and Mary, in particular, has developed a special love for the Academy. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Rosalind Russell
    Rosalind Russell - Mother Superior
  • Hayley Mills
    Hayley Mills - Mary Clancy
  • Binnie Barnes
    Binnie Barnes - Sister Celestine
  • Gypsy Rose Lee
    Gypsy Rose Lee - Mrs. Phipps
  • Camilla Sparv
    Camilla Sparv - Sister Constance

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