I watch this almost every year. The joy of the film is in the acting, which never grows old and knowing how the plot turns out doesn't spoil anything. Here are three of the best actors Hollywood ever had the fortune to have working beautifully with each other, and surrounded by the best character actors as well.Taking place during the Holiday Season, David Niven is Bishop Henry Brogham, who is obsessed with building a great cathedral and obtaining the funds from a cold and demanding widow, Mrs. Hamilton, played perfectly by Gladys Cooper. His Wife, Julia, played by Loretta Young, (he is an Episcopal bishop and thus can marry, a frequent source of confusion for some) feels neglected as a result, and the marriage is turning unhappy.
There arrives a stranger, Dudley, introduced on a snowy day as he helps everyone he meets, almost miraculously at times. You see, he's an angel, but not just any angel, he's Cary Grant at his most charming. He is the answer to Bishop Brogham's prayer for help, though it will come in an unexpected way. Though Dudley must reveal his true nature to the bishop, the bishop must keep it all a secret and tel everyone he is a new assistant. Soon Dudley charms himself into the hearts of everyone except bishop Brogham himself who becomes increasingly suspicious of Dudley's Intentions, as he seems to accompany Julia everywhere and they always seem to be having such a good time.
One of the surprising elements of the film is that Dudley and Julia seem to be having a happy affair in all but one aspect and how wild a plot line this was in 1947. They seem to be absolutely in love. The bishop has every right to be suspicious. But before it is all over Dudley has fixed all that needed to be fixed and leaves making everyone forget he ever existed. The Christmas message of love and sharing is what he leaves behind.
Monty Wooley is also wonderful here as a Professor with a long term writer's block as is Elsa Lanchester as the family maid. The Mitchell Boychoir sings the little-known Gounod Noel perfectly. Director Henry Kostler, known mainly for musicals and comedy, keeps the pace moving and the film never drags. I highly recommend this film.