Fun fact: I grew up in the town where Bing Crosby lived, Spokane. One of our local theaters is named after him and every Christmas they play a marathon of a few of his movies, usually ending with “White Christmas.” And yet I don’t think that theater, simply known as The Bing, plays the movies of his that I’ve seen lately, like the “Road to…” movies, or more recently the film that won Bing Crosby an Oscar, “Going My Way.” You would think that film would have solidified itself as a Crosby classic but nowadays it’s not nearly as popular as “Holiday Inn” or “White Christmas.” “Going My Way” is just as smaultzy and overly sweet as those films, so go figure.
“Going My Way” tells the tale of Father O’Malley (Crosby), a priest who is sent to a decaying church in New York to help the elder pastor (Barry Fitzgerald) and is to take charge of the affairs of the parish. The more traditional pastor and the more relaxed and unconventional priest don’t get along at first, but as Father O’Malley starts helping out around town by making the young delinquent boys into the church’s choir and a young woman thought to be a prostitute is given a new outlook on life by Crosby, the pastor starts to open up to him. It is easy to tell this film came out in the middle of World War II, showing that the battle back home is in good hands by men who put everyone else ahead of themselves and want nothing more than to make the world a better place, something Americans can aspire to be like and brings soldiers peace and comfort. Crosby is more relaxed and at peace in this role and the on-screen chemistry he has with Barry Fitzgerald is delightful, if a bit too sweet. Nowadays, “Going My Way” is harmless fun about a priest that genuinely wants to make the world better with an ending that you’ll either love or find contrived. It was good enough to win Best Picture in 1944, so I’d say it’s still worth a look.
Final Grade: B-