Going My Way

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For the 1962–1963 television series, see Going My Way (TV series).
Going My Way
GoingmywayBing.jpg
Theatrical release poster (with executive producer B. G. DeSylva given prominent credit)
Directed by Leo McCarey
Produced by Leo McCarey
Screenplay by
Story by Leo McCarey
Starring
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • May 3, 1944 (1944-05-03) (USA)
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $6.5 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Going My Way is a 1944 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Leo McCarey and starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. Based on a story by Leo McCarey, the film is about a new young priest taking over a parish from an established old veteran. Crosby sings five songs in the film.[2] Going My Way was followed the next year by a sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's.

Going My Way was the highest-grossing picture of 1944, and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning 7, including Best Picture.[3] Its success helped to make movie exhibitors choose Crosby as the biggest box-office draw of the year,[4][5] a record he would hold for the remainder of the 1940s. After World War II, Bing Crosby and Leo McCarey presented a copy of the motion picture to Pope Pius XII at the Vatican.

Plot[edit]

The film follows Father Charles “Chuck” O’Malley (Bing Crosby), an incoming priest from East St. Louis whose unconventional style transforms the parish life of St. Dominic’s Church in New York City.

On his first day at the new parish, O'Malley gets into a series of mishaps; his informal appearance and attitude make a very poor impression with the elder pastor, Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald). The very traditional Fitzgibbon is further put off by O’Malley’s recreational habits – particularly his golf-playing – and his friendship with the even more casual Father Timmy O’Dowd (Frank McHugh). In a discussion between O'Malley and O'Dowd without Fitzgibbon present, it is revealed that O’Malley was sent by the bishop to take charge of the affairs of the parish, but that Fitzgibbon is to remain as pastor. To spare Fitzgibbon’s feelings, the older pastor is kept unaware of this arrangement and believes that O’Malley is simply his assistant.

A series of events in the first half of the movie highlight the differences between O’Malley and Fitzgibbon’s styles, as they deal with events like a parishioner being evicted and a young woman named Carol James (Jean Heather) coming to the church having run away from home. The most consequential difference of opinion between O’Malley and Fitzgibbon arises in their handling of the youth of the church, many of whom are consistently getting into trouble with the law in a gang led by Tony Scaponi (Stanley Clements). Fitzgibbon is inclined to look the other way, siding with the boys because of their frequent church attendance. O’Malley instead seeks to make inroads into the boys’ lives, befriending Scaponi and eventually using this connection to convince the boys, against some initial reluctance, to become a church choir.

The noise of the practising choir annoys Fitzgibbon, who finally decides to go to the bishop and ask for O’Malley to be transferred away. In the course of the conversation, Fitzgibbon infers the bishop’s intention to put O’Malley in charge of the parish. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, instead of making his initial request, Fitzgibbon asks the bishop to put O’Malley in charge, and then, resigned to his fate of losing control over the church, he informs O’Malley of his new role.

Distressed, Fitzgibbon then runs away from the parish, leading to a search. He returns late at night, and as O’Malley puts the older priest to bed, the two begin to bond, discussing Fitzgibbon’s long-put-off desire to go to Ireland and see his mother, whom he's not seen in 45 years, since he left Ireland as a young priest to come to America, and who is now over 90. O’Malley puts Fitzgibbon to sleep with an Irish lullaby, “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral”.

We now meet Jenny Tuffel (now Genevieve Linden) (Risë Stevens), an old girlfriend of O'Malley's whom he left in order to join the priesthood, but who has since risen to a highly successful acting and singing career. O'Malley and Jenny discuss their past, and he then watches from the side of the stage as she performs a number for her starring role as Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera.

O'Malley next pays a visit to Carol, who is now suspected of living in sin with Ted Haines Jr. (James Brown), the son of the church's mortgage-holder, Ted Haines Sr. (Gene Lockhart). On this visit, O’Malley describes to the young couple his calling in life to “go his way”, which to him means to follow after the joyous side of religion and lead others to do the same. He performs for them the song “Going My Way”, which he wrote on this theme.

The elements of the story now begin to come together. Jenny visits O’Malley at the church, sees the boys’ choir, and reads the sheet music of “Going My Way”. She, O'Malley, and Father O’Dowd devise a plan to rent out the Metropolitan, perform “Going My Way” with the choir and a full orchestra, and sell the rights to the song, thereby saving the church from its financial woes. The plan fails, as the music executive brought on to listen to the song does not believe that it will sell. As the executive (William Frawley) is leaving, the choir decides to make the most of its opportunity on the grand stage, and sings another song, "Swinging on a Star". The executive overhears the song and decides to buy it, providing enough money to pay off the church mortgage.

With the church affairs in order, O’Malley and Fitzgibbon begin to bond more closely, and even go out on the golf course together. Just as everything seems to have fallen into place, though, the parish church is damaged in a massive fire. At about the same time, O'Malley prepares to move on to a new assignment from the bishop. He leaves O’Dowd as Fitzgibbon’s new assistant, and puts Tony Scaponi in charge of the choir. On Christmas Eve the people gather in a temporary church, in a service that also serves as O'Malley's farewell. As a going away present to Fitzgibbon, O’Malley flies Fitzgibbon’s mother in from Ireland. As mother and son embrace for the first time in forty-five years, the choir sings “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral”; Father O’Malley quietly slips away.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming locations included the following:[8]

Reception[edit]

According to The New York Times, Going My Way was "the best" of Crosby's career, which is "saying a lot for a performer who has been one of the steadiest joys of the screen. But, in this Leo McCarey film,...he has definitely found his sturdiest role to date." [9] NYT's critic Bosley Crowther criticized the film's length while lauding Crosby, and noting that "he has been stunningly supported by Barry Fitzgerald, who plays one of the warmest characters the screen has ever known. As a matter of fact, it is a cruel slight to suggest that this is Mr. Crosby's show. It is his and Mr. Fitzgerald's together. And they make it one of the rare delights of the year."[9]

Awards[edit]

At the 17th Academy Awards, Going My Way was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including two for Barry Fitzgerald, whose work on the film was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. (Subsequently, the rules were changed to prevent a reoccurrence.[10]) It won seven, including Best Picture.[3]

Award Result Winner
Best Picture Won Paramount Pictures (Leo McCarey, producer)
Best Director Won Leo McCarey
Best Actor Won Bing Crosby
Best Actor Nominated Barry Fitzgerald
Best Supporting Actor Won Barry Fitzgerald
Best Writing, Screenplay Won Frank Butler and Frank Cavett
Best Original Motion Picture Story Won Leo McCarey
Best Music, Song Won "Swinging on a Star"
Music: James Van Heusen • Lyrics:Johnny Burke
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Nominated Lionel Lindon
Winner was Joseph LaShelle – Laura
Best Film Editing Nominated Leroy Stone
Winner was Barbara McLean – Wilson

In 2004, Going My Way was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Fred Clark (in a guest role) and Gene Kelly (as Father O'Malley) in an episode of the TV adaptation.

Adaptations[edit]

Going My Way was adapted as a radio play for the January 8, 1945, broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater starring Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald and Paul Lukas. It was also adapted for the May 3, 1954, broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Barry Fitzgerald.

The film also inspired an hour-long comedy-drama of the same name during the 1962–63 television season. It starred Gene Kelly in the role of Father O'Malley. The series ran on ABC for one season.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
  2. ^ "Going My Way". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Awards for Going My Way". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/111407%7C111408/Bing-Crosby-Profile.html
  5. ^ Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854.  Tape 1, side B.
  6. ^ "Full cast and crew for Going My Way". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  7. ^ Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Internet Movie Database, retrieved March 17, 2013 
  8. ^ "Locations for Going My Way". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (May 3, 1944). "Comedy-Drama With Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-27. 
  10. ^ Mike D'Angelo (2014-04-01). "In 1982, everyone agreed on Jessica Lange (but not for the big prize)". Dissolve. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 

External links[edit]