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Sister Act is a 1992 American comedy film released by Touchstone Pictures. Directed by Emile Ardolino, it features musical arrangements by Marc Shaiman and stars Whoopi Goldberg as a Renomarker lounge singer who has been put under protective custody in a San Franciscomarker convent and has to pretend to be a nun when a mob boss puts her on his hit list. Also in the cast are Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, Mary Wickes, and Harvey Keitel. The film is #83 on Bravo's The 100 Funniest Movies list.

The film was followed by a 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. It also inspired a musical stage version that premiered at the Pasadena Playhousemarker in Pasadena, Californiamarker in 2006, and opened at the London Palladiummarker with previews from May 7, 2009.


The movie opens at a Catholic elementary school in 1968. There, a strict nun scolds a little girl named Deloris for giving sarcastic answers in class. The nun warns the girl that she will be doomed to a life of sin if she does not mend her ways.

In the present day, Deloris (Whoopi Goldberg) is a lounge singer in Reno, Nevadamarker. She is involved in a relationship with a married man: mobster Vince LaRocca (Harvey Keitel). Deloris is oblivious to his criminal activities, as he always keeps her out of his "business." After a fight, Vince tries to buy Deloris's affection back with a beautiful mink coat, but she discovers that the coat belongs to Vince's wife. Furious, she decides to break up with Vince that night. Then she walks into his office, though, she witnesses him shoot his limo driver. Vince and his goons chase Deloris, but she escapes through the sewers and goes to the police. Lieutenant Eddie Souther (Bill Nunn) hears her story and asks her to testify against Vince. She agrees, and Eddie arranges to have her placed in a Witness Protection Program to protect her from Vince.

Deloris reluctantly goes into hiding as a nun in a Catholic convent in San Francisco, Californiamarker, where she wears a habit and is given the name "Sister Mary Clarence". Her lounge-singer attitudes quickly irritate the Reverend Mother (Maggie Smith), who is only pacified by promises of funds for the neglected church. Deloris chafes under the lifestyle of a nun; Reverend Mother does not allow her sisters to venture into the crime-stricken neighborhood to aid the poor, and the Church itself is run-down and poorly attended. When Deloris complains, the Reverend Mother points out the flaws in Deloris's life, insisting that God put her at the convent for a reason. After this lecture, Deloris begins to make friends with the other sisters, particularly Sister Mary Patrick, an eternally sunny individual, Sister Mary Lazarus, a decidedly old-fashioned nun, and young Sister Mary Robert, an acolyte who seeks meaning in her life.

When Deloris hears the convent's choir, which is horribly lackluster and off-key, at a Sunday service, she breaks. She tries calling Lt. Souther, but he informs her that there is a leak in the police department who is selling out information on witnesses. That night, Deloris sneaks out of the convent to visit a nightclub; Sisters Mary Patrick and Robert follow her. When they return, Reverend Mother is prepared to make arrangements for Deloris to leave, but Deloris begs forgiveness. Reverend Mother agrees on one condition: Deloris must join the choir.

Deloris goes to choir practice, and finds the group terrible. Sister Mary Patrick suggests that she teach them, and Mary Lazarus, the choirmaster, offers her the position. Deloris reminds the sisters that they must feel what they sing, as it is a form of rejoicing. She also discovers that Sister Mary Robert has a powerful voice, hidden by shyness. Under Deloris's tutelage, the choir is reformed. At the next Sunday service, they begin a beautiful rendition of "Hail, Holy Queen"-which suddenly turns into a soulful, gospel restyling of the song. People outside are intrigued, and begin entering the Church.

Reverend Mother is furious at Deloris's attempts to change the choir-but the priest of the church, Monsignor O'Hara, loved the new arrangement, and thanks the Abbess. Deloris sneakily mentions that Reverend Mother has also suggested that the nuns perform community service for the neighborhood. The sisters take to the streets, where they clean, run a soup kitchen, and create a playground for inner-city children. All the while, Deloris teaches them new songs, including Mary Wells' "My Guy" as "My God." Church attendance and funds skyrocket. Monsignor O'Hara announces that Pope John Paul II, planning a papal visit to San Francisco, plans to visit the convent to witness its good works.

Unfortunately for Deloris, a detective in the police department notices that Lt. Souther has made donations to the church, and realizes that Deloris is hidden there. He calls Vince, though Souther discovers his actions and arrests him. Vince's goons still manage to kidnap Deloris and Sister Mary Robert. Deloris helps the young nun escape, and Mary Robert returns and reveals that Vince plans to take Deloris back to Reno. Eddie convinces the nuns to help him find her, and the entire convent boards a helicopter to the city.

Deloris, still in her habit, remains calm and prays for guidance while the nuns dash about the casino, searching for her. Vince's underlings cannot bring themselves to kill a nun, and Vince prepares to complete the job himself. The nuns find Deloris, and Reverend Mother defends her, claiming that she is a true nun. The delay proves just long enough for Eddie to enter and place Vince and his assistants under arrest.

Before Deloris returns to her singing career, she leads the nuns in a rendition of "I Will Follow Him" for the Pope. Sister Mary Robert finally realizes her true potential and sings a solo during the song, and the pope himself happily claps to the beat. The film ends with the church patrons giving the nuns a standing ovation, and Deloris returning to her old life with a new purpose.


Young Deloris in film is played by Isis Carmen Jones, who had previously played a younger version of another of Goldberg's characters (Guinan) in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Screenwriter Paul Rudnick pitched "Sister Act" to producer Scott Rudin in 1987, and it was agreed that Bette Midler would be best for the lead role. The script was then brought to Disney. However, Midler later abandoned the role, fearing her fans would not want to see her play a nun. Eventually, Whoopi Goldberg signed on to play the lead. As production commenced, the script was rewritten by a half dozen screenwriters, including Carrie Fisher, Robert Harling, and Nancy Meyers. With the movie no longer resembling his original script, Rudnick asked to be credited with a pseudonym in the film, deciding on "Joseph Howard."

The church in which Whoopi Goldberg takes refuge is St. Paul's Catholic Church, located at Valley and Church Streets in Noe Valleymarker, an upper middle class neighborhood of San Francisco. The storefronts on the opposite side of the street were converted to give the area a ghetto look.

The order of nuns depicted in the film is the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of Saint Francis, based on their habit. In an obvious pun on Goldberg's skin tone, when the nuns visit Reno, Sister Mary Patrick asks two gamblers if they have "seen a nun, a Carmelite nun?"


The film's soundtrack was released in conjunction with the film, and contained the musical numbers performed by actors in the film itself, pre-recorded songs that were used as part of the background music, and instrumental music composed by Marc Shaiman for the film. The soundtrack album debuted at #74 and eventually reached #40 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart where it charted for 54 weeks. The album received a Gold certification from the RIAA for shipment of 500,000 copies on January 13, 1993.

The track list is as follows:

  1. "The Lounge Medley" (" Heat Wave"/"My Guy"/"I Will Follow Him") - Deloris & The Ronelles
  2. "The Murder" (instrumental)
  3. "Getting Into the Habit" (instrumental)
  4. "Rescue Me" - Fontella Bass
  5. "Hail Holy Queen" - Deloris & The Sisters
  6. "Roll With Me Henry" - Etta James
  7. "Gravy" - Dee Dee Sharp
  8. "My Guy " - Deloris & The Sisters
  9. "Just a Touch Of Love (Everyday)" - C+C Music Factory
  10. "Deloris Is Kidnapped" (instrumental)
  11. "Nuns to the Rescue" (instrumental)
  12. "Finale: I Will Follow Him ('Chariot')" - Deloris & The Sisters
  13. "Shout" - Delores & The Sisters & The Ronelles
  14. "If My Sister's in Trouble" - Lady Soul


The film was a box office success, grossing $139,605,150 domestically and $92,000,000 in foreign countries, effectively grossing $231,605,150 worldwide.

Later in the year of the film's release, Whoopi Goldberg and the film "nuns" performed at a Democratic fundraiser for Bill Clinton.

DVD release

The Region 1 DVD was released on November 6, 2001. Special Features include the film's Theatrical Trailer; Music Video's for "I Will Follow Him" by: Deloris and the Sisters and "If My Sister's In Trouble" by: Lady Soul, "Both of which contained clips from the film." and a Featurette: "Inside Sister Act" The Making Of.


  1. Sister Act - Trivia
  2. Image
  5. Sister Act as

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