Sunday, January 27, 2013

Classic TV: The Flying Nun (1967)

A relatively unknown book by Tere Rios, The Fifteenth Pelican, published in 1965, was adapted for television two years later by Screen Gems comedy honcho Harry Ackerman, creating a camp classic for all ages.

The Flying Nun was the 2nd series for star Sally Field, coming two years after Gidget, also for Screen Gems & ABC. The show told the story of a Chicago-born lass, Elsie Ethrington, who steps away from the family business, if you will (she came from a family of doctors), opting instead to become a nun and enter a convent. Rechristened Sister Bertrille, she arrives in Puerto Rico, and discovers that the combination of her tiny frame, coupled with a heavily starched cornet (the headpiece of her nun's habit), and a passing breeze, enables her to fly. Rather awkwardly, of course, but she really wasn't meant for heroism. Her power of flight was instead the source of gags and a lot of plotlines. Nun lasted three seasons, and enjoyed a healthy run in syndication during the 70's. Today, the series airs on Antenna TV (check local listings---not yet available on Time Warner Cable in upstate NY), and the first two seasons are available on DVD from Sony.

Markieo blesses us with this rare open from the first season, when the series was sponsored by the folks at Colgate-Palmolive.

What some of you might not be aware of is the existence of a soundtrack album of music from the show, recorded by Sally Field. Whodathunk! Of course, as you know, co-star Shelley Morrison enjoyed a brief career revival when she was cast on Will & Grace a few years ago.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I always thought of this show as a live action cartoon - after all, how could a cute young nun fly and still find a way to make a mess of things?

Growing up Catholic, I think there were one of two potential views towards this show: either it was disrespectful towards Catholicism is general ("Look! A flying nun!") or a great way to laugh at the sisters who were human beings beneath the habits (Look! A nun who flies!). We chose the latter - but I think it was Sally Field's natural spunk that pulled it off.

It was just another way of doing what we did in parochial school - making lighthearted jokes about the nuns; do you remember, "Have you heard about Sister [so and so]? She left the order. You mean she kicked the habit?" ?

Or, perhaps there was an "Attila The Nun" in your area?

hobbyfan said...

Seeing as how I was initially baptized as a Methodist, and became a Born again Christian at 12, I wouldn't know.

Consider, too, that Flying Nun outlasted Field's previous series, Gidget, which amazingly was canned after 1 season. If only she remained so irresistably cute.......