Directed by Penny Marshall and starring Whitney Houston and AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Denzel Washington, THE PREACHER’S WIFE follows an angel who arrives on the wings of a prayer to help a good reverend whose Baptist church is struggling, as is his marriage.
AFI Movie Club: THE PREACHER’S WIFE
Watch actor Courtney B. Vance, who plays Reverend Henry Biggs in the film, discuss making THE PREACHER’S WIFE in this exclusive conversation.
DID YOU KNOW? This film is a remake of THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947), starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, which was based on the novel of the same name by Robert Nathan.
DID YOU KNOW? The idea to remake THE BISHOP’S WIFE was developed by Denzel Washington’s production company, Mundy Lane Entertainment. Mundy Lane has also produced DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS and ANTWONE FISHER over the years.
DID YOU KNOW? Whitney Houston’s mother – famed gospel singer Cissy Houston – makes an appearance in THE PREACHER’S WIFE, playing Mrs. Havergal in the church choir.
DID YOU KNOW? Both Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington grew up with ties to the church. Washington is the son of a minister and Houston began singing in her church’s gospel choir at age 11, following in the footsteps of several prominent soul singers in her family, including her mother Cissy Houston and cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick.
DID YOU KNOW? Musician Lionel Richie made his acting debut as a jazz club owner in THE PREACHER’S WIFE.
DID YOU KNOW? The film was produced by Debra Martin Chase – the first African American female producer to have a deal at any major Hollywood studio.
DID YOU KNOW? The soundtrack for THE PREACHER’S WIFE was so memorable that it landed at the number one spot on the Billboard charts, remaining there for 26 weeks. The lead single, “I Believe in You and Me,“ became a top five hit in the U.S. The soundtrack would be nominated for Best R&B Album and Whitney Houston would also be nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards®.
DID YOU KNOW? THE PREACHER’S WIFE was nominated for five NAACP Image Awards, with Whitney Houston winning for Outstanding Lead Actress and Loretta Devine winning Outstanding Supporting Actress. The film’s composer Hans Zimmer was also nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy.
Learn more at the AFI Catalog.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions
- Did you know this was a remake of a film starring Cary Grant and Loretta Young?
- How does THE PREACHER’S WIFE fit into the holiday film canon?
- How does Denzel Washington’s role as Dudley in the film differ from the characters he has portrayed in many of his other films?
- Why do you think Denzel Washington wanted to adapt the 1940s version and remake it with a predominantly Black cast?
- Denzel Washington hand-picked Penny Marshall to direct the film. What do you think she brings to the picture and why do you think he selected her, based on her previous work?
- Which is your favorite song from THE PREACHER’S WIFE soundtrack?
- How would you rate THE PREACHER’S WIFE?
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