I’d never heard of Going My Way until I was searching through my instant watch queue on Netflix, though I’d heard of its sequel, The Bells of St. Mary.
Going My Way stars Bing Crosby as Father Chuck O’Malley, a young priest from St. Louis who has been given the task of setting in order a troubled New York City parish on the verge of bankruptcy and with many of its youth involved in crime. Father O’Malley must do so without hurting the feelings of elderly priest Father Fitzgibbons (platyed beautifully by Barry Fitzgerald.)
While Crosby was one of the most talented singers and showmen of his generation, his performance as Father O’Malley was anything but showy. Father O’Malley comes off as a “right guy” who is humble and graceful. While technically, he’s been put “in charge” of the parish by the Bishop, he refuses to assert himself, but respects the work of Father Fitzgibbons.
Barry Fitzgerald was equally masterful with Father Fitzgibbons. His portrayal of Father Fitzgibbons is as a stubborn man set in his ways, but with a kind heart and dedication that has kept him at his parish for 45 years, seperated from his aging mother.
What makes the movie work is the chemistry between the two characters. In these type of films, it’s often tempting to play up a sense of rivalry between the old minister and the young one. Yet, Going My Way takes an entirely different tact, as the old man the young one grow to love and respect each other.
It’s a bit of a misnomer to call this film a musical, as the characters rarely sing in this two hour film. Crosby does sing a few times, and when he does, it’s powerful. Perhaps one of the most informative scenes was when Father O’Malley was advising a young singer who was gesturing as she sang. Father O’Malley criticized the gesturing and suggested that she needed to was to put more emotion into her singing.
My favorite scene was the one in which Father O’Malley put Father Fitzgibbons to bed after the older priest to bed. They’d talked about their mothers and how Father Fitzgibbons hadn’t seen his 90 year old mother in 45 years. Father Fitzgibbons asked if O’Malley knew “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra” and Crosby sang it beautifully:
The film wasn’t perfect. At two hours, it could have been quite a bit shorter without some extraneous plot elements such as seeing the Metropolitan Opera perform one scene from Carmen, and the budding romance of the banker’s son. However, the latter subplot did provide one of the film’s best scenes.
However, these are very minor shortcomings in a great film, and the featured attraction is the warmth of Crosby and Fitzgerald to create a timeless classic.
This film was featured on Screen Guild Theater in 1945 with Crosby and Fitzgerald reprising their starring roles.
Currently, it is available on Netflix Instant Watch for those who Netflix members. Click here for Netflix.
Also, it’s available on Amazon:
Note: Sales made through the links in this post will result in small compensation to me at no additional cost to the consumer.