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The Nun's Story (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama | 18 July 1959 (USA)
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After leaving a wealthy Belgian family to become a nun, Sister Luke struggles with her devotion to her vows during crisis, disappointment, and World War II.

Director:

Fred Zinnemann

Writers:

Robert Anderson (screenplay), Kathryn Hulme (book) (as Kathryn C. Hulme)
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Audrey Hepburn ... Sister Luke (Gabrielle van der Mal)
Peter Finch ... Dr. Fortunati
Edith Evans ... Rev. Mother Emmanuel (Belgium) (as Dame Edith Evans)
Peggy Ashcroft ... Mother Mathilde (Africa) (as Dame Peggy Ashcroft)
Dean Jagger ... Dr. Van Der Mal
Mildred Dunnock ... Sister Margharita (Mistress of Postulants)
Beatrice Straight ... Mother Christophe (Sanatorium)
Patricia Collinge ... Sister William (convent teacher)
Rosalie Crutchley ... Sister Eleanor
Ruth White ... Mother Marcella (School of Medicine)
Barbara O'Neil ... Mother Didyma (War-time Hospital)
Margaret Phillips ... Sister Pauline (medical student)
Patricia Bosworth Patricia Bosworth ... Simone (postulant who changed her mind)
Colleen Dewhurst ... Archangel Gabriel (Sanatorium)
Stephen Murray ... Chaplain (Father Andre)
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Storyline

In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Hubert van der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, expecting to work as nun in Congo with tropical diseases. She says good-bye to her sisters Louise and Marie; to her brother Pierre; and to her beloved father, and subjects herself to the stringent rules of the retrograde institution, including interior silent and excessive humbleness and humiliation. After a long period working in a mental institution, Gaby is finally assigned to go to Congo, where she works with the Atheist and cynical, but brilliant, Dr. Fortunati. Sister Luke proves to be very efficient nurse and assistant, and Dr. Fortunati miraculous heals her tuberculosis. Years later, she is ordered to return to Belgium and when her motherland is invaded by the Germans, she learns that her beloved father was murdered by the enemy while he was helping wounded members of the resistance. Sister ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story of the Girl Who Could No Longer Be a Nun! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Historia de una monja See more »

Filming Locations:

Belgium See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During a 2017 NPR interview, actress Patricia Bosworth (Simone) told interviewer Scott Simon that on the same day that she had been cast in The Nun's Story, she also learned she was pregnant. Because she knew that she could not play a nun while pregnant (and because she didn't want a child at that time), she had an abortion (a procedure that was still illegal in the United States) right before flying to Rome for the preproduction preparation and filming. On the flight, Bosworth started to hemorrhage. The movie's director, Fred Zinnemann, had arranged for some cast members to meet with real nuns in various Italian convents, and Bosworth happened to be sent to a hospital convent--where the sister who Bosworth was assigned to immediately recognized that she was unwell. Bosworth was hesitant to admit her condition to the nun, but "I got back to the hotel, and I was just bleeding so badly all over the rug. It was just horrific. And I called [the nun] and I told her I had had an abortion and I thought I was dying, and she rushed me back to the hospital. And I got to the operating room and the doctor sewed me up. And he was very angry at me. He said, 'I've - you know, I've been working with actresses for too many years, sewing them up, and you're a fool and why didn't you take precautions and...' you know, really chewed me out. So I went back to my hospital room, and I never told Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers didn't know. The hospital didn't tell them. The nuns didn't--the nurses didn't tell them what had happened. They said I had a stomach ailment. The picture was delayed. So everything was fine, and I recovered and went on with the movie. But, of course, that--it was a traumatic, traumatic experience, and I had really almost lost my life." See more »

Goofs

When the patient in the Congo hospital is being attended by several people, the voice of the actor playing the patient is obviously dubbed over by actor Dean Jagger, who plays Sister Luke's father in the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: "He that shall lose his life for me shall find it. If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and come follow me." Each sister shall understand that on entering the convent, she has made the sacrifice of her life to God.
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Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'My Fair Lady' (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Voi Che Sapete
from "The Marriage of Figaro"
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as W. A. Mozart)
Played by Gabi and her father on the piano, and recurring throughout the film's score.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Inner Conflict
17 December 2003 | by diva_k13See all my reviews

I think that this film contains one of Audrey Hepburn's strongest performances. The movie, however, is not for everyone. The movie has no gloss, no "this is purely for entertainment" message. This movie requires that you think and really watch the movie, otherwise the meaning is lost and thus, you will not like the movie. Others have said that this movie is "slow and boring", but watch the movie yourself. You will see the brilliance of Audrey Hepburn's performance as she portrays Sister Luke's struggle to live for herself and for God. This is a great movie! Please do not be discouraged by the implied "seriousness" of it!


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