Going My Way (1944)

Saint Dominic's church is going under. The current priest is a man who seems to not know how to correctly handle expenses and lawyers. The company that's holding his mortgage is threatening to take the building away from it and demolish it to make way for something a little more easily marketable.
So the bishop sends over a young and compassionate new priest to assist in Saint Dominic's "restoration". Little does the current priest, Father Fitzgibbon, know that the man they're sending over, Father O'Malley is actually going to be heading up the church. He'll be leading without letting Father Fitzgibbon know that he's not the one in charge anymore.
Fitzgibbon has been at this church for 45 years and he's not about to let some young blooded priest ruin it all.
Everyone fails to see O'Malley for who he is. He's compassionate and loving and very respectable but all they notice is the newest piece of gossip walking into town.
There becomes a rift between the two priests, the old school and the new school. O'Malley is much wiser than Fitzgibbon and a much more modern thinker. He's less misogynistic and more trusting, taking the word of a policemen instead of the gossip of an old woman.
It's inevitable that O'Malley will succeed in getting Saint Dominic's back on its feet from the first time we are told about the plan. It's just how movies ended back in the 40s, always a happy ending.
"Going My Way" falls into some pretty deep cliches and plot holes along the way as it tells its story. Bing Crosby plays the leading man, Father O'Malley opposite Barry Fitzgerald's Father Fitzgibbon. Crosby is likable and charming but it takes a little time to convince that audience that he's actually "priest material". He seems too cool and too much like another member of the Rat Pack to actually have taken the vows of priesthood.
But as the movie ticks on he slowly works his way into the role, dodging horribly cameo song sections that could have been disastrous and most of the time are borderline. For instance, a girl is running away from home and she gets picked up by the police and taken to the young father for sympathy and guidance. But instead of letting her know what he really thinks he finds himself playing the piano and singing along with her because supposedly she would have rejected his advice because she's eighteen and a woman...not precisely your modern thinker but getting there.
Then when a group of local boys are mucking around and getting into trouble he turns the ragamuffins into a choir. It was a little implausible and, frankly, condescending.
The plot goes here and there building its story on coincidences rather than back story. Like an old friends of O'Malley's sees him in the street and pulls him into a ten minutes long side-plot device on a chance meeting.
"Going My Way" has its faults as any other movie would. But by the time the end has come around you've forgiven all of them because the wrap-up is so sugary sweet that it's impossible to resist. Who doesn't like sugar?

Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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