Oscar Movies: Singing Nun, The (1966)

Vet filmmaker Henry Koster reached one of the lows of his long career directing this directed this cloying, sentimental family musical.

The movie, poorly scripted by Sally Benson and John Furia, tried to cash in on the popularity of the 1965 “The Sound of Music,” leading to a series of films and TV shows (Sally Fiewld’s “The Flying Nun”).

The fact that “Singing Nun” is based on the true life story of Soeur Sourire, a Belgian nun whose recordings made her an overnight sensation on The Ed Sullivan Show, makes things worse.

Debbie Reynolds, then enjoying a second (and last) popularity phase (she was Oscar-nominated for “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”), stars as Sister Ann, a Belgian nun who relishes composing and singing tunes on her guitar. In the process, she writes the song “Dominique” for a lonely little boy, Dominic Arlien (Ricky Cordell), whose mother has died and whose father is an alcoholic.

Father Clementi (Ricardo Montalban) tries to promote the song, getting help from his old friend Robert Gerarde (Chad Everett), a record producer. As a result, “Dominique” becomes an international hit, thanks to Robert’s efforts.  Soon Ed Sullivan appears on the scene to film Sister Ann for his popular TV program.

Unsure of how to handle her sudden, amazing success, Sister Ann seeks out Father Clementi for advice, unsure of whether to give up her singing and remain a nun or to continue on with her singing career and renounce her vows.

In the end, she goes to Africa with another sister (Juanita Moore) on a mission.

Production ba;ues are below mediocre, particularly old-fashioned cinematography by the otherwise talented Milton Krasner.

The sceondary cast includes such pros as Greer Garson, Ricardo Montalban, Agnes Moorehead, Chad Everett, and Katharine Roos, just before she made the smash hit “The Graduate,” after which she became a star.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Scoring of Music: Harry Sukman

Oscar Award: None


Oscar Context:

The winner  of the Scoring Oscar was  Ken Thorne for the musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”


Running time: 98 Minutes.

Directed By: Henry Koster.

Screenplay: Sally Benson and John Furia.

Released April 2, 1966.



Debbie Reynolds as Sister Ann

Ricardo Montalban as Father Clementi

Greer Garson as Mother Prioress

Agnes Moorehead as Sister Cluny

Chad Everett as Robert Gerarde

Katharine Ross as Nicole Arlien

Juanita Moore as Sister Mary