Following on from the surprise success of The Singing Nun, The Trouble with Angels is another convent-based tale. The film was the last movie to be directed by ex-pat and ex-actress Ida Lupino, who’d given up being “a poor man’s Bette Davis” to successfully direct the likes of The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist in the early 50s. This comedy stands as testament to one of the pioneer female directors but also to the enduring ability of Rosalind Russell, best remembered for her breathtaking performance opposite Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. Russell also starred in a 1968 sequel to The Trouble…, entitled Where Angels Go – Trouble Follows.
The Mother Superior (Russell) at St Francis Academy likes to maintain order, but she spots two potential troublemakers when new girls Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) and Rachel Devery (June Hardin) arrive on the scene. Indeed, Mary’s soon causing all manner of mischief in the convent school, placing bubble-bath powder in the nuns’ sugar bowls, smoking in the boiler room and generally encouraging the other girls to misbehave. Mother Superior toys with the idea of expelling her, but decides that there’s something about Mary.
As time passes, her judgement proves correct. Mary starts to become one of the most dedicated girls in school, involving herself heavily in school activities. Mary’s temperament changes even further when, following the death of one of the nuns, she’s deeply moved by the funeral service. As graduation day draws near, Mary must decide whether to move on or stay and join the religious order.
USA /Columbia / 112 minutes / 1966 Filmed in Pathecolor
Writer: Blanche Hanalis, based on the novel Life with Mother Superior by Jane Trahey / Cinematography: Lionel Lindon / Music: Jerry Goldsmith / Director: Ida Lupino
Cast: Rosalind Russell, Hayley Mills, Binnie Barnes, Gypsy Rose Lee, Camilla Sparv, June Harding, Marge Redmond