Going My Way

Director: Leo McCarey
Year Released: 1944
Rating: 2.0

Upbeat young priest Father Chuck (Bing Crosby) gets sent from St. Louis to NYC to assist aging Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald) in trying to get St. Dominic's Church out of financial hardship, but the two "clash" over their different approaches to the profession.  Despite the warm qualities of both of its leads, it's cheaply sentimental and episodic: it believes that a group of hoodlums can be reformed by a "father figure" taking them out to ballgames and gathering them together to form a choir will "fix" them (in reality: not exactly) and that Chuck can play "therapist" with a young runaway (Jean Heather) and get her life straightened out (she gets into a relationship with a soldier).  Most of the scenes are designed strictly as an excuse to play a song, which isn't always bad since Crosby had a voice on loan from the cosmos: "Swinging on a Star" is a very special tune and deserves its place in the Great American Songbook.  Maybe this sticky toffee - which ends with Fitzgibbon reuniting with his Irish Mom - is just what American audiences needed in '44 ... Lord knows there was bad stuff going on elsewhere.