I ask the hard questions, at America:
At first glance, “The Song of Bernadette” seems as wholesome—and as outdated—as the clink of the morning milk delivery. It’s filmed in black and white, its score is plangent and heavy on the strings, and Jennifer Jones plays the saint at its center with a sweetness and softness that played big to wartime audiences but which, to me, is a little too spun-sugar. It was a huge hit at the box office and won four Oscars, which might make it a classic or might just make it a time capsule. The final frame even includes an advertisement: Buy war bonds!
But this fictionalized story of Bernadette Soubirous, a French peasant girl who claims she sees a mysterious “Lady” in a secluded part of the city dump, follows a classic horror-film structure in order to make a theological point that could not be more urgent and contemporary.