Leo McCarey

Sog.: Leo McCarey. Scen: Frank Butler, Frank Cavett. F.: Lionel Lindon. M.: LeRoy Stone. Scgf.: Hans Dreier, William Flannery. Mus: Robert Emmett Dolan. Int.: Bing Crosby (padre O’Malley), Barry Fitzgerald (padre Fitzgibbon), Risë Stevens (Genevieve Linden), Frank McHugh (padre O’Dowd), Gene Lockhart (Ted Haines Sr.), William Frawley (Max), James Brown (Ted Haines Jr.), Porter Hall (Mr. Belknap), Fortunio Bonanova (Tommaso Bozanni), Eily Malyon (Mrs. Carmody). Prod.: Paramount Pictures · 35mm. Bn. D.: 126’.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Going My Way could have been the title of many of McCarey’s pictures as his comic heroes were always looking for like-minded companionship in an unstable universe. Irene Dunne even asks it of Charles Boyer a couple of time in Love Affair. But this time the ‘way’ has a distinctly dogmatic bent. Having been a long-time devout Roman Catholic, McCarey, for the first time, starts to put his religious feelings on film. Perhaps brought to the fore by his near-fatal car accident in 1940 and the events of World War II, there’s a definite shift from his relatively carefree earlier work to a more purposeful examination of issues and ideology. Although there were rumblings of this in Make Way for Tomorrow, Love Affair, and Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), in Going My Way he gets instructional. That said, he still treads fairly lightly on the real Catholic issues, focusing mainly on the old versus new relationship of Fathers O’Malley and Fitzgibbon. Outside of Spencer Tracy in San Francisco (1936) and Boys Town (1938) most movie portrayals of men of the cloth were generally either anemic or sanctimonious, but McCarey makes great use of Bing Crosby’s well-established humor and casual screen image to humanize the stereotype, and even goes further by providing the character with a back story of a former romantic relationship with Risë Stevens’ opera singer, which was a bit daring for the day. Crosby and Fitzgerald have a great combative comic chemistry together, and each character was based on real priests – father Eugene O’Malley of Chicago and a Monsignor Conneally from Santa Monica.
Like John Ford, McCarey was not afraid of sentiment, and there’s some full-frontal sentimentality in the film, but the director and cast masterfully avoid anything that could be mawkish. The picture was a huge box office success, taking in six million dollars, and it swept the 1945 Academy Awards taking Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Song – very impressive for a film the studio was nervous about producing because of its religious content. The picture has more music than any other McCarey outing – from tunes written for the film to standards like Silent Night and Ave Maria. It’s said that one of the director’s unrealized goals was to be a popular songwriter, but with Crosby as his star he at least had the opportunity to introduce hits such as Going My Way, Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra, and particularly Swinging on a Star.

Steve Massa

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