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when lift plus thrust, is greater than load plus drag . . . anything will fly
on July 25, 2009
For some of the `flightiest', most innocuous entertainment, check out The Flying Nun. The convent San Tanco in Puerto Rico, is a near idyllic place, virtually devoid of violence, anger, or crime, where a mean spirited word is almost never heard. Life there was simple and uncomplicated, for Reverend Mother Placido (Madeline Sherwood), Sister Jacqueline (Marge Redmond), and the rest of the nuns, until the arrival of a young novice, Sister Bertrille (Sally Field) who discovers she has the miraculous ability to fly.
The whole series is based on the inspired and very goofy premise that powerful wind gusts acting on the young sister's cornet, can cause the lightweight nun to defy gravity and take flight. The idea might sound crazy, but as fantasy based shows like, Bewitched, The Munsters, and I Dream of Jeanine, were hits at the time, a nun that flies was perhaps not the wackiest thing on television.
Those at the convent encounter bumps in the road of life, but they are almost always gentle ones, overcome without too much fuss. The convent often has repair and maintenance issues or financial woes, and casino owner Carlos Ramirez (Alejandro Rey), a nice guy and soft touch for Sister Bertrille's schemes, is often approached for assistance. The Reverend Mother tries to balance morality with practicality, and shows wisdom and patience in dealing with her most unusual nun. Sister Jacquelin tries to keep the peace, and often runs interference for Sister Bertrille, keeping the Reverend Mother out of the loop. Although Carlos often is in the company of beautiful women, this is still a program that parents can let young kids watch with few concerns. Sally Field has wonderful chemistry working with all her co-stars particularly Alejandro Rey and Madeline Sherwood. Shelly Morrison is also very funny, as that butcher of the English language, Sister Sixto.
Prior to The Flying Nun, Sally Field had just wrapped up a two year stint on the television version of Gidget. Harry Ackerman, was executive producer for Gidget, and when he needed someone to star in his new show about a flying nun, he wanted Sally Field. This and so much more is discussed in a surprisingly candid 18 minute retrospective that is included as an extra. Field recounts her experiences and feelings regarding The Flying Nun. The actress was only 20 at the time, and initially wanted nothing to do with the series. She reluctantly took the role, which turned out to be a blessing and a curse, as the flying nun would become the subject of many a joke. The actress says that she did most of her own stunts, and watching the series, this certainly appears to be the case. The appearance of flight was achieved in a variety of ways, the most painful and dangerous, was wearing a harness, and being suspended on wires from a crane. It is really quite remarkable what the producers put the courageous actress through, as at times she is very high up in the air, being swung around near buildings or trees. Not all the concerns were physical, as Field was also experiencing personal issues, and the pressures of carrying a series. Fortunately she came through it all, and emerged stronger for it, becoming a two time Oscar winner. The `tears behind the laughter' back story of The Flying Nun does, cast a bit of a shadow on the program, and what was common practice in the industry at the time.
The picture and sound quality of the four single-sided discs is very good. Besides the retrospective `A Look Back At The Flying Nun', there are unfortunately no commentaries or other extras. Though apparently things were actually too good to be true even then, The Flying Nun presents a sweet and innocent slice from the past, that perhaps gives us cause to reflect on how much times have changed since. Fans of Sally Field might also want to check out the Gidget Complete Series DVD set. Besides acting, Sally Field is also visible as a spokesperson for a drug to treat osteoporosis.