One Foot In Heaven, 1941

Fredric March and Martha Scott as a pastor and his devoted wife struggle with raising a family in several poorly maintained homes on the little money they get from their congregations.

The title is explained when Pastor Spence tells his son about setting an example for others. He teaches him that they have to balance on a tightrope with one foot on Earth and one foot in Heaven.

Beulah Bondi plays Mrs. Sandow, a wealthy woman in the church who disagrees with Pastor Spence. The pastor’s crime in her view was the act of having tea with her employee, Mr. Samson, who lived over her garage. It was improper since Pastor Spence was her pastor and not Samson’s, even though Samson never missed the church’s evening service.

The book was written by Hartzell Spence, which is also the name of the character who is the son of Pastor Spence. This movie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. And it was filmed in Methodist churches in Los Angeles.

Fredric March showed how pastors are expected to cater to the rich because without money from the rich, the pastor’s children don’t eat much. His diligence as a pastor was important in the film, but I was struck by the wife’s story. Martha Scott showed how a young woman in love can be flexible and adapt to the changes necessary when her fiancĂ© makes the announcement that he’s been called to preach. Immediately, her future changed from being a doctor’s wife to being a poor minister’s wife. However, her love and dedication to him helped the marriage succeed.