Sister Act
Sister Act poster
Directed by Emile Ardolino
Produced by Scott Rudin
Teri Schwartz
Written by Joseph Howard
Starring Whoopi Goldberg
Maggie Smith
Harvey Keitel
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Editing by Colleen Halsey
Richard Halsey
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release May 29, 1992
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $31 million
Gross revenue $231,605,150
Followed by Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

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 Reno lounge singer who has been put under protective custody in a San Francisco 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 was followed by a 1993 sequel, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. It also inspired the musical Sister Act that premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California in 2006, and opened at the West End's London Palladium with previews from May 7, 2009. The musical then opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in April 2011, with previews beginning March 24, 2011.

Sister Act is widely regarded as one of the best and the most financially successful comedies of the 1990s, The film is also rated #83 on Bravo's The 100 Funniest Movies list.


The film opens in 1968 at St. Anne's Academy, a California Roman Catholic school, where a young girl named Deloris Wilson is scolded for wisecracking and disobedience. The setting then changes to the present day, where Deloris Van Cartier is a lounge singer in a 1960s-themed act called The Ronelles (a parody of The Ronettes), who sing at The Moonlite Lounge of the Nevada Club in Reno, Nevada run by her boyfriend, the mobster Vince LaRocca. After Deloris walks in on Vince having his chauffeur, Ernie executed, Vince orders his men Joey and Willy to kill her too. Deloris flees Vince's casino to the local police station where Lieutenant Eddie Souther suggests she testify against Vince if he can be arrested and tried, but for now, she should go into witness protection until the time comes.

Deloris is taken to St. Katherine's Parish in a seedy, run-down neighborhood of San Francisco, where Souther suggests she take refuge in the attached convent. Both Deloris and the Reverend Mother object, but are convinced by Souther and Monsignor O'Hara to go ahead with it. Deloris “becomes” a nun–habit and all–under the hand of Reverend Mother, who gives her the religious name "Sister Mary Clarence" to complete the disguise. Mary Clarence objects to following the strictures and simple life of the convent, but comes to befriend several of the nuns, including the forever jolly Sister Mary Patrick, quiet and meek Sister Mary Robert, and the elderly deadpan Sister Mary Lazarus. After sneaking into a nearby bar, Mary Clarence is chastised by Reverend Mother and put into the choir, which she has seen to be dreadful. The choir nuns, having heard that Mary Clarence has a background in music, elect her to take over as choir director, which she accepts, and she rearranges them to make them better singers. At Mass one Sunday, the choir sings the "Hail Holy Queen" in the traditional manner beautifully before shifting into a gospel and rock-and-roll-infused performance of the hymn.

Reverend Mother is infuriated, but Monsignor O'Hara is thrilled as the music brought people, including teenagers, in off the streets. Deloris convinces Monsignor O'Hara that the nuns should be going out to clean up the neighborhood. The nuns clean up the neighborhood and the choir wows church visitors with their music with Souther eventually attending a performance of "My Guy" (appropriately rewritten as "My God"). Eventually, O'Hara announces to the choir that Pope John Paul II is to visit the church to see the choir himself. Reverend Mother decides to hand in her resignation since her authority has been unintentionally undermined, but Mary Clarence offers to leave in her stead, to which the Reverend Mother disagrees. Detective Tate, a police officer on Vince's payroll, finds out where Deloris is and contacts Vince, who sends Joey and Willy out to grab her. Souther catches Tate red handed, gets him arrested, and flies to San Francisco to warn Mary Clarence, but Vince's men abduct her.

The nuns, led by the Reverend Mother, risk their lives by going to Reno to save Mary Clarence. Meanwhile, she escapes Vince and his men, leading to a chase around the casino until the nuns find her and try to sneak out. Vince, Joey and Willy confront the nuns, but are unable to bring themselves to shoot Deloris while she is in a nun's habit. As Vince eventually tries to shoot Deloris, Souther bursts in and shoots Vince in the arm, and has the men arrested. The film ends with the choir, led by Deloris, singing "I Will Follow Him" before the Pope and a packed and refurbished St. Katherine's, earning a loud standing ovation from the audience, the Pope, Reverend Mother, Monsignor O'Hara and Lt. Souther. The end credits reveals that Deloris' secret life as a nun was sold to the media and has become a sensation. The ending of Deloris' "career" as a choir leader is revealed through magazine and album covers and Deloris has continued leading the choir as a famous group with published albums.


  • Whoopi Goldberg as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence
  • Isis Carmen Jones as young Deloris Wilson
  • Maggie Smith as Reverend Mother
  • Kathy Najimy as Sister Mary Patrick
  • Wendy Makkena as Sister Mary Robert (singing voice: Andrea Robinson)
  • Mary Wickes as Sister Mary Lazarus
  • Bill Nunn as Lt. Eddie Souther
  • Harvey Keitel as Vince LaRocca
  • Robert Miranda as Joey
  • Richard Portnow as Willy
  • Rose Parenti as Sister Alma
  • Joseph Maher as Monsignor O'Hara
  • Jim Beaver as Clarkson
  • Jenifer Lewis as Michelle
  • Charlotte Crossley as Tina
  • A.J. Johnson as Lewanda
  • Lois de Banzie as Immaculata
  • Max Grodénchik as Ernie
  • Joseph G. Medalis as Henry Parker
  • Michael Durrell as Larry Merrick
  • Toni Kalem as Connie LaRocca
  • Eugene Greytak as Pope John Paul II
  • Guy Boyd (uncredited) as Detective Tate

Choir nuns

  • Ellen Albertini Dow
  • Carmen Zapata
  • Pat Crawford Brown
  • Prudence Wright Holmes
  • Georgia Creighton
  • Susan Johnson
  • Ruth Kobart
  • Susan Browning
  • Darlene Koldenhoven
  • Sheri Izzard
  • Edith Diaz
  • Beth Fowler

External links

Sister Act films

Sister ActSister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Maggie Smith films

Hook (1991)  · Sister Act (1992)  · Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)  · Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)  · Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)  · Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)  · Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)  · Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)  · Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)  · Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)  ·

Whoopi Goldberg films

Ghost (1990)  · Sister Act (1992)  · Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)  · Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)  ·

Wendy Makkena films

Sister Act (1992)  · Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)  ·

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