Directed by: Leo McCarey (won)
Screenplay by: Frank Butler, Frank Cavett (won)
Starring: Bing Crosby (won), Barry Fitzgerald (won), Risë Stevens, Frank McHugh
My rating: 6.5/10
IMDb rating: 7.2
Since You Went Away
Synopsis: New priest Father O’Malley joins St. Dominic’s church, winning over hearts and minds with his unconventional ways.
Going My Way is a sweet, sometimes schmaltzy, film with predictable beats and a very
neat resolution. Perhaps the fact that the US was still in the grips of WWII is why this chocolate-covered toffee of a movie won over the undeniably superior (but darker) Double Indemnity and Gaslight.
It’s enjoyable nonetheless, and has a quippy, charming protagonist in Bing Crosby, whose seriocomic delivery reminded me, at times, of Robin Williams. This film got him his only Oscar (and first of three nominations).
There doesn’t seem to be a problem Father Chuck O’Malley can’t solve with music, from a teenage runaway to a gang of miscreants.
Some of the scenes are a bit too long, and even unnecessary. It’s a two-hour movie, and I’m sure they could have trimmed it down.
It touches on several themes, like capitalism vs charity, the benefits and drawbacks of change, and even the war, without being heavy-handed, which is nice.
The most emotionally stirring theme was that of change, and obsolescence. Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald), the ageing current head of St. Dominic’s, finds out that Father O’Malley wasn’t placed as his assistant, but rather as someone to run the place and get it financially sound again. Barry Fitzgerald rightly won an Oscar for best supporting actor – he could portray the all the emotions that come with losing relevance – sadness, pride, anger and a sort of melancholy acceptance. He also has one of the most beautiful lines in a goodbye toast (which I’m totally stealing): “I’m sure that the way to say what I’d like to say will occur to me after you’ve gone.”
The bottom line: It’s often cheesy, but it’s a sweet, if long, watch. Watch it with Double Indemnity and Gaslight, and decide for yourself how deserving it was.