Well it's a lovely movie, especially to watch at Christmas time. If I close my eyes I can pretend I'm watching White Christmas. What's it about? Bing Crosby. Seriously. He sings, it's great, and I think he's a priest who helps people and saves a church? Don't know. Don't really care. I enjoyed watching it, I loved the music, and I don't really remember what it was about. Entertaining film with Bing Crosby? Absolutely. Oscar-worthy film? Eh--probably not."A golf course is nothing but a poolroom moved outdoors."--Father Fitzgibbon (Going My Way, 1944)
|Fathers O'Malley and Fitzgibbon|
The film starts in New York City, with mortgage broker Ted Haines Sr. reluctantly telling elderly Irish Father Fitzgibbon, played by Barry Fitzgerald, that if he doesn't make his mortgage payment on St. Dominic's church soon he will have to call in the mortgage. Ted, Jr. argues with his father to give the church a break, but his father insists. Father Charles Francis Patrick O'Malley, played by Bing Crosby, arrives in the neighborhood with modern ways that upset the locals. He greets Father Fitzgibbon in a sweatshirt and slacks and announces he is to be his new curate.
|Father O'Malley is the new curate.|
|Father O'Malley talks to the boys.|
|Father O'Malley sees Jenny.|
|Ted, Jr. and Carol fall in love|
|The fathers go golfing.|
|Father O'Malley leaves.|
Leo McCarey, Oscar-winning director of The Awful Truth, made the success of his new film, Going My Way, seen unlikely. It would contain a series of vignettes about a priest, have no female leads, and boast crooner Bing Crosby in the lead. He was an unusual choice to play a priest but Crosby was already incredibly popular with audiences, especially the troops. This, however, was the first film in which Crosby would be considered an actor, rather than a singer, and he was named the number one box office star of the year. Crosby would go on to become one of the top stars of the decade, and he, along with his music, are still popular today.
|Publicity still for Going My Way|
|Publicity still for Going My Way|
|Singing "Swinging on a Star."|
|Father O'Malley and Father Fitzgibbon play golf.|
|Fitzgerald and Crosby with their Oscars|
What to say about this film? It's very warm and fuzzy. I could listen to Bing Crosby sing forever. He and Frank Sinatra have those soothing, liquid voices that seem to seep into one's pores. I also like the way Crosby manages to distribute advice without ever once sounding patronizing. He makes a speech about giving back to others or following your dreams or something, and I just nod my head and say, "Yes, Bing. You're right. I should join a choir to save my church. And it's normal that you just turned a street gang into a choir with little-to-no effort." So it's completely understandable he's in almost every scene. This movie would fall apart without him.
|Father O'Malley in his neighborhood.|
I find two things interesting about this film. The first is the original movie poster, replicated again above. Rise Stevens is a minor character in the film who only appears half-way in. She is holding hands on the poster with Bing Crosby, whose priest collar has almost disappeared from sight. This completely downplays the entire plot of the film. Were the advertisers afraid that by both making the main character a priest and having no female lead the film would do poorly? Stevens is also in the corner in an Opera costume she never wears in the film. Barry Fitzgerald and the choir are almost non-existent in the corner. I don't know quite what to make of this, but it bears noting.
|Carol bids Ted, Jr. goodbye.|
|Ted, Jr. shakes hands with his father.|
|Father Fitzgibbon hugs his mother.|