Before signing up for The Rosalind Russell Blogathon, I had never heard of Rosalind Russell. Like I did to prepare for the 90 Years of Jean Simmons Blogathon, I visited Rosalind’s IMDB filmography. After searching this page, I discovered that Rosalind starred in the film, The Trouble with Angels. This is a film that I’ve heard of, but never seen. So, I used my participation in the blogathon as an excuse to watch this movie! I was also aware that Hayley Mills starred in The Trouble with Angels. Before watching this film, I had seen a few of her movies. In fact, I reviewed The Moon-Spinners earlier this year! So, I was looking forward to seeing what her acting abilities had to offer in this production. Was my movie-viewing experience a blessing or a curse? You can fly through my review of The Trouble with Angels if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
- The acting: I really liked the cast of The Trouble with Angels! Every actor and actress pulled off a performance that not only appeared realistic, but also was effective. Rosalind Russell’s portrayal of Mother Superior was interesting to watch. This character was strict, yet she always had her heart in the right place. I couldn’t help but find Mother Superior to be a likable character. I also enjoyed seeing Haley Mills in this film! Prior to watching The Trouble with Angels, I have seen The Parent Trap (1961), That Darn Cat and The Moon-Spinners. Hayley’s portrayal of Mary Clancy is somewhat different from her roles in those aforementioned films. However, Hayley’s performance had a sense of maturity to it. This particular role complimented both her age and acting abilities. Because of this, it made Hayley’s portrayal of Mary that much more entertaining to watch!
- The set/scenery: The Trouble with Angels takes place at St. Francis Academy. According to IMDB, the building that was used in the exterior shots is a real-life facility in Ambler, Pennsylvania. But the interior shots were filmed in a California studio. Despite this difference in filming locations, I thought the scenery/set was absolutely magnificent! The building itself looks like a castle, the footage of it probably doesn’t do this place justice. There were grounds surrounding the building that I liked seeing as well! All four seasons was showcased in the film, which helped highlight the beauty that these grounds had to offer. The set looks like it would compliment the real-life structure. A combination of stone, wood, and stained glass were appealing to the eye. The location scout(s) and set decorator(s) did a great job with bringing this school to life!
- A sense of humanity: In this story, there were moments where a sense of humanity shown through. This happened through dialogue and situations amongst the characters. One example is when Mary and Rachel (portrayed by June Harding) try to lie to Mother Superior about their whereabouts. When Mother Superior suspects that Mary and Rachel are making fun of one of their teachers, she shares the truth about this particular teacher with them. Another example is when some of the students visit a Retirement Home during Christmas-time. When Mary overhears some of the residents sharing their loneliness with others, it shows the audience that this specific season might not be the most wonderful time of the year for some people. The incorporation of this sense of humanity felt genuine, like the creative team behind this film had good intentions for including it.
What I didn’t like about the film:
- A limited amount of humor: While there were moments of humor found throughout the film, I felt like the story favored the dramatic moments more than the comedic ones. These moments of humor seemed far and few between. Most of the film’s humor came from the pranks and mishaps that are caused by Mary and Rachel. Even though The Trouble with Angels would be classified as a comedy, this movie feels more like a dramedy (a mix of comedy and drama).
- Mostly static characters: The Trouble with Angels is primarily about the characters of Mary and Rachel. This story follows them from the beginning of their freshmen year of high school to their graduation. In that time-frame, however, Mary and Rachel didn’t really seem to have that significant of a transition of rambunctious youngsters and responsible young adults. For more than half of the film, Mary and Rachel were static, continuously pulling pranks and despising their peers and teachers. It wasn’t until they joined their school’s band when these characters started to grow as individuals. This part of the story feels a little bit rushed, like the creative team behind this movie was trying to make up for lost time.
- Little emphasis on academics: In movies that take place in a school setting, there is usually an emphasis on either an important teacher or an influential school assignment. But that wasn’t the case for The Trouble with Angels. Instead, the story focused on the character development of Mary and Rachel. There were moments that showed these characters in the middle of a school lesson, such as when Mary and Rachel were trying to avoid their swim tests. But these moments didn’t last long enough to have a large impact on the narrative.
My overall impression:
The Trouble with Angels is a fine film. This story had more heart and soul than I expected, especially due to the sense of humanity found within the narrative. While this movie could have been stronger, there were elements about it that made the project enjoyable. Rosalind and Hayley definitely helped carry the film! Though these actresses were at different places in their careers, their acting abilities complimented each other. When it comes to films about teenagers, The Trouble with Angels is one of the better ones. The story primarily focused on Mary and Rachel. But, with the incorporation of the teachers and Mother Superior, the best intentions for the students could be seen throughout the story. That’s how I would define this movie; the creative team making this film with the best of intentions.
Overall score: 7.4-7.5 out of 10
Have you seen The Trouble with Angels? Which movie of Rosalind Russell’s would like me to watch next? Please tell me in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
5 thoughts on “Take 3: The Trouble with Angels Review (Rosalind Russell Double Feature Part 1)”
I saw this movie for the first time earlier this year too. I could relate to it, since I went to a catholic high school where nuns made up the majority of teachers. I agree there were some story beats that felt rushed, though I actually felt the opposite about the comedy bits. I thought they lingered on the jokes and pranks more than some character development.
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Thanks for reading my review, UpOnTheShelf! I see what you mean about the lingering jokes and pranks. After a while, I wondered how long Mary and Rachel were going to continue their shenanigans. Like I said in my review, these two characters seemed to remain static for the majority of the film.
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I also reviewed this film for the blogathon. I liked it, and I agree with you about character development and the band bit seeming rushed – I’d love to have seen how the contest went! I loved how true Mary and Rachel’s friendship was – probably my favorite thing in the film.
Le from Critica Retro
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Thanks for reading my review, Le! I just read your review of this film and I thought it was well-written! I do agree with you about Ida Lupino’s incorporation of social consciousness into the movie. That’s one of the things I liked about this film, as it was mentioned in my review. In your review, there were points that you made which I also agree with, such as how much more of the story could have been explored. I also reviewed the sequel to this film, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows. If you haven’t already, you should check out that review!