The Miracle Woman (1931)
Description: A minister's daughter finds fame as an evangelist but struggles with her own lack of faith in Frank Capra's impassioned drama. Inspired by the true story of Aimee Semple McPherson, the film follows the rise to prominence of Florence Fallon (Barbara Stanwyck). Disillusioned by the mistreatment of her dying father by his church, Florence grows cynical about religion. She nevertheless retains an intimate knowledge of the Bible and natural flair for preaching, talents put to use by promoter Bob Hornsby (Sam Hardy) in a series of phony revival meetings, complete with staged healings and other stunts. Florence plays along, but she soon comes to take her religious mission more seriously, especially after a blind songwriter John Carson (David Manners) claims that her preaching saved his life. Guilt-ridden Florence decides to go straight, but Hornsby sets out to stop her, seeing her new-found morality -- and her budding romance with John -- as a threat to his lucrative business. Foreshadowing many of his better-known classics, Capra addresses issues about the manipulation of the public and the importance of truth while also presenting an unlikely romance. The film's treatment of religion was considered controversial on its initial release; it now seems justifiably complex but far from critical. The film's most notable element is the intense lead performance from Stanwyck, whose combination of fiery charisma and vulnerability is magnetic and convincing, providing Capra's ambitious drama with a gripping emotional core.~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide
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