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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Going My Way (released in 1944) - starring Bing Cosby and Barry Fitzgerald

This 1944 blockbuster was directed by Leo McCarey staring Bing Cosby and Barry Fitzgerald. This movie was the biggest hit and cemented the place of Bing Cosby as one of the biggest guaranteed box office draw of the 40's.
This movie is about a young priest who takes over the parish from a veteran and the feelings of displacement and jealousy involved in this take over. Father O'Malley is a young priest who is sent to the parish of St Dominic's in poor neighborhood of New York. He is to take over from Father Fitzgibbon for whom age is not on his side. The parish has nothing much going on for them, except the petty gossip and rivalries. Soon Father O'Malley revamps the entire going on's, reinvigorating the youth.
Father Fitzgibbon feels the parish slipping away from his hands as he watches O'Malley in action. The younger parish priest gets a grip on everything like the parish interludes and youthful capers. And slowly resentment sets in Fitzgibbon's mind. But O'Malley is aware of the confusion in the older man's mind and he is kind and considerate. He slowly chips away the armor and engages him.

O'Malley and his friend Father Timothy "Timmy" O'Dowd take Father Fitzgibbon for golf and he thoroughly enjoys it calling it the great outdoor pool. Soon he opens up about his parish life of past 50 years. He also mentions about his mother who is pushing 90 living in Ireland. O'Malley has his own personal demons to deal with with his interrupted love affairs. Soon pieces start to fall in to the right places. The choir is formed and the youth movement gains momentum with the prime mischief maker young Tony Scaponi comes to the fold.
Then tragedy strikes when the church is damaged in a massive fire on Christmas eve. But the spirit of togetherness kindled by Father O'Malley cannot be extinguished so soon. The newly awakened parish rally against odds and celebrate Christmas as a family in a temporary church. At this momentous occasion, Fitzgibbon's elderly mother reaches him all thanks to O'Malley efforts. But the joyous occasion has a sad tinge with O'Malley being transferred to another parish. But the builder builds for others and the fruits of his creation may not be for his sake but for the restoration of others. As the parish rejuvenates and embraces each other, O'Malley slips away for his new task.

This movie was a monster hit and was nominated for 10 academy awards winning seven. Bing Cosby won the Oscar for Best actor and Barry Fitzgerald won for the best supporting actor. Barry was nominated for the best actor award and lost to Cosby. After this the Oscar committee restricted the nominations to one category. It also won the Oscar for best picture, best director, best screenplay and best song. It was followed the next year by a sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's.
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". A feel good movie worth a watch.

Going My Way (released in 1944) - starring Bing Cosby and Barry Fitzgerald

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