Going my Way (1944)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Going my Way</strong> (1944)

(On Cable TV, March 2018) On paper, there’s nothing to suggest that Going My Way is going to be an entertaining experience. It is, after all, about a young priest moving to a New York City parish. His small-town ways are not greeted warmly, and it’s an uphill battle for him to be taken seriously. Duller films have been made of more interesting premises. But watching the film makes it better. For one thing, the lead character is played by Bing Crosby, who isn’t just effortlessly charming, but allows the film to gradually shift in semi-musical mode as his character can sing in support of his parish. As antagonists are tamed, songs are sung, the church’s mortgage paid off and things get back in order (at least until one capriciously arbitrary late-movie downturn), Going my Way actually works decently well. Movies rarely spend so much time in the minutiae of church-running, but the film isn’t particularly religious—the parish is usually portrayed as a business with obligations and logistics. Going my Way won the best Picture Oscar for its year, and while I can argue that (then) Gaslight or (now) Double Indemnity would have been better choices, it’s not an incomprehensible one: It’s a warm and uplifting picture, with great performances by Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. It’s religious-friendly without being secular-unfriendly and as such could (and still can) reach a wide audience.

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