In this follow-up to director Leo McCarey's Going My Way (1944), Bing Crosby repeats his Oscar-winning characterization of happy-go-lucky priest Father O'Malley. The good father is sent to help out financially strapped St. Mary's Academy, a parochial school presided over by lovely nun Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman). The film is constructed in anecdotal fashion: Nun and priest gently quarrel over teaching methods; they help patch up the tottering marriage of William Gargan and Martha Sleeper; Sister Benedict plays baseball and teaches a student how to box; Father O'Malley softens the heart of the man who holds the mortgage (Henry Travers) by convincing the poor fellow that he's only got a few months to live; and the kids of St. Mary's put on a much-revised stage version of the Nativity, complete with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" on the occasion of the Virgin Birth. A huge hit at the box office, Bells of St. Mary's was nominated for nine Academy Awards.
~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide