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Film / The Singing Nun

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A 1966 American semi-biographical film about the life of Jeanine Deckers (aka Sœur Sourire lit. Sister Smile/"The Singing Nun" in the West), a nun who recorded the chart-topping hit song, "Dominique". Debbie Reynolds stars in the title role as the nun named Sister Ann. Ed Sullivan himself makes an appearance to play in the supposedly similar situation where the Singing Nun appears on his show. Original songs by The Singing Nun were translated into English and were written by Randy Sparks.

Despite the film being labeled as semi-biographical, Jeanine Deckers herself rejected the film as "fiction". More or less, her life might not be as joyful as how the film showed it. Also, Deckers' fate was less than happy...

Compare Sister Act if you want a movie with lots of music that also involves nuns but funnier and quirkier.


The film provides examples of:

  • Based on a Great Big Lie: In contrast to the perfection of the movie, the real Jeanine Deckers was a very conflicted personality who did not like the attention of the world and definitely did not hold an attraction to a male record producer as shown in the film. In fact, she left the order in 1965, accompanied by her lover, Annie Pescher, whom she stayed with until their mutual suicide pact in 1985.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Nichole isn't really sister-of-the-year and because she needs to take care of Dominic while their dad is gone (who's just as neglecting), she just takes her little brother almost everywhere she goes, even in a seedy bar. This encouraged Sister Ann to volunteer in babysitting him while Nichole is away.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Dominic, Nicole, and their dad go away for a while to a pig farm in the countryside. Nichole later makes amends with Sister Ann. Sister Ann forgives her, and she also gives away her guitar, Adele, to Nichole. Some time passes, she and Sister Mary become missionaries in Africa and help the sick in a poor village. The people all rejoice of her arrival.
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  • Companion Cube: Her precious guitar she named, Adele.
  • Cool Bike: Averted. Sister Ann rides a moped that doesn't really stand out around her plain white habit. Since she's a nun, we can expect that her choices in vehicles to be, sort of not-so flashy. Whether that's necessary or not.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe. She becomes confused between her musical success and Robert's personal interest in her. It got worse when Dominic gets hit by a vehicle and later that night, she 'couldn't pray', meaning unable to sing and play her guitar.
  • Driving a Desk: Sister Ann on the scooter and later, when they ride on their jeep.
  • Everybody Lives: For all the drama that came along the way for all the characters, the film ends in a rather hopeful note.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Father Clementi tries to implant this to Robert who constantly convinces Sister Ann (who was his former classmate and apparently, had a bit of relationship with her) to leave the convent and carry on her musical career and become a star.
  • Magical Negro: Sister Mary (who is the only black character to be seen for most of the film). Especially when she told a woman who had just fainted while dancing, was planning to have an abortion and recalled that she was to have the same fate (as a baby) and was thankful that they failed. Whether it helped isn't made sure.
  • Missing Mom: Nicole and Dominic's mother.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Later, while walking on the streets, she hears a club playing rock 'n' roll music to the tune of her song, Dominique, much to her horror (judging from the Reaction Shot) for she was unprepared of the side-effects of her new-found fame and thought she was losing sight of what's important. It didn't help that this all happened just after the accident of little Dominic.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Dominique" of course.
    • Any background score has borrowed some tunes from the real Singing Nun's songs.
  • Sexy Priest: Father Clementi. Not that it's mentioned or bragged about in-universe, but the man is pretty easy on the eyes and he is a carpenter.
  • Stern Nun: Sister Cluny. Averted for the Mother who is much more open.
    • Sister Ann herself is this too though less obvious. She's quite nosy at first, especially when confronting to Nicole about the provocative photographs of herself she found in her closet which she uses to make money but then again, she is just starting. In fact, she seemed to be way to eager to help.
  • Took a Level in Badass: A pretty small one. Sister Ann is shocked that Nicole's father would struck her own daughter. So what did she do? She pins the man on the wall (who is twice her height) and lectures that there's a better way to settle it. Predictably, she gets thrown out but still.


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