The Trouble with Angels (film)

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The Trouble with Angels
The Trouble with Angels (theatrical poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIda Lupino
Produced byWilliam Frye
Screenplay byBlanche Hanalis
Based onLife with Mother Superior
1962 memoir
by Jane Trahey[1]
StarringRosalind Russell
Hayley Mills
June Harding
Music byJerry Goldsmith
CinematographyLionel Lindon
Edited byRobert C. Jones
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 30, 1966 (1966-03-30)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million
Box office$4.1 million (rentals)[2]

The Trouble with Angels is a 1966 American comedy film about the adventures of two girls, later best friends, in an all-girls Catholic school run by nuns. The film was directed by Ida Lupino and stars Hayley Mills (in her first post-Disney film role), Rosalind Russell and June Harding.

The film's cast includes Marge Redmond (who would play a nun in the television series The Flying Nun, which premiered the following year) as math teacher Sister Liguori, Mary Wickes (who later played a nun in the movie Sister Act and its sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit) as gym teacher Sister Clarissa, and Portia Nelson (who had played a nun in The Sound of Music the previous year) as art teacher Sister Elizabeth.

A sequel, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, starring Stella Stevens, was released in 1968.


The movie is set at St. Francis Academy, a fictional all-girls Catholic boarding school in Pennsylvania, operated by an order of nuns. Rosalind Russell plays the Mother Superior, who spends the movie at odds with Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills), a rebellious teenager, and her friend Rachel Devery (June Harding). The episodic story line follows the young women through their sophomore, junior and senior high-school years as they pull pranks on the sisters and repeatedly get into trouble. Although Mary spends much of her time at St. Francis resenting the authority of the Mother Superior and puzzling over why any woman would choose the life of a nun, as time goes on she is touched by examples of the sisters' dedication, devotion, kindness, love, and generosity, and begins to see that their life is one of fulfillment, not deprivation. Mary receives "the call" senior year and, after graduation, remains at the school to begin her novitiate in the order.


The Nuns:

The Girls:

  • Hayley Mills as Mary Clancy
  • June Harding as Rachel Devery
  • Barbara Hunter as Marvel-Ann
  • Bernadette Withers as Valerie
  • Vicky Albright as Charlotte
  • Patty Gerrity as Sheila
  • Vicki Draves as Kate
  • Wendy Winkelman as Sandy
  • Jewel Jaffe as Ginnie-Lou
  • Gail Liddle as Priscilla
  • Michael-Marie as Ruth
  • Betty Jane Royale as Gladys
  • Ronne Troup as Helen
  • Catherine Wyles as Brigette

The Outsiders:


The Trouble with Angels was based on the book Life with Mother Superior by Jane Trahey, about her own high school years at a Catholic school near Chicago, Illinois in the 1930s. While in the memoir the school was portrayed as a boarding school outside the city, Trahey attended what is now Providence-St. Mel's High School, which was a day school. Many of the incidents mentioned in the book were based on Trahey's experiences at Mundelein College in Chicago. The character of Mary Clancy (Mills) was based on Jane's friend, Mary, who later became Sister John Eudes, a Sinsinawa Dominican nun.[3]


The Trouble with Angels was filmed in August and September 1965. The St. Francis Academy in the film was filmed on location at what was formerly known as St. Mary's Home for Children and is presently known as Lindenwold Castle / Mattison Estate Property in Ambler, Pennsylvania. All interior shots were filmed at Columbia Studios at Sunset & Gower in Hollywood. Most exterior shots were filmed at the Greystone Mansion, which was leased by the City of Beverly Hills to the American Film Institute. The exterior train depot scenes at the opening and closing of the movie were shot at an abandoned rail station (which still exists) in Monrovia, California. The film was budgeted at $2 million.[4]

Before shooting began, Rosalind Russell was asked by an old school friend, now a mother superior in St. Louis, to attend a fundraiser for a Catholic girls' school she was starting. Russell proposed that her upcoming film would be "the ideal fundraiser" and convinced Columbia to hold the premiere in St. Louis. The world premiere and a reception were held at St. Louis's Fox Theatre with ticket proceeds going to the school's building fund.[5]


The film marked a departure for Mills, who was attempting to emerge from her juvenile leads in Walt Disney-produced teen comedies as a comedic actress. The Trouble with Angels enjoyed good reviews, although Variety was critical: "An appealing story idea—hip Mother Superior nun who outfoxes and matures two rebellious students in a Catholic girls' school—has lost impact via repetitious plotting and pacing, plus routine direction....Graduation finds Mills in character switcheroo to which Catholic audiences will long since be alerted."[6]

The film earned enough box-office success to warrant a sequel (Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows). However, Hayley Mills opted not to reprise her role as the progressive protagonist and was replaced by Stella Stevens, who played Sister George, a new foil to Rosalind Russell’s Mother Superior.


Burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee appears in a small role.

An uncredited Jim Hutton appears briefly as the principal of a competing school.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schiro, Anne-Marie (April 25, 2000). "Jane Trahey, Ad Executive And Author, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  2. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967, pg 8.
  3. ^ "Sister who was inspiration for 'The Trouble With Angels' character dies". Crux. Catholic News Service. January 5, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  4. ^ Archived May 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Dick, Bernard F. (18 September 2009). Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell. University Press of Mississippi. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-60473-139-2. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  6. ^ "The Trouble with Angels". Variety. Retrieved January 6, 2018.

External links[edit]