Director: Leo McCarey Cast: Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown, Gene Lockhart, Jean Heather, Porter Hall, Eily Malyon, Fortunio Bonanova, Risë Stevens
Academy Awards: Best Picture; Best Actor in a Leading Role (Bing Crosby); Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Barry Fitzgerald); Best Director (Leo McCarey); Best Original Story (Leo McCarey); Best Original Screenplay (Frank Butler & Frank Cavett); Best Original Song (Jimmy Van Heusen & Johnny Burke for “Swinging on a Star”)
Also Nominated For: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Barry Fitzgerald); Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; Best Film Editing
I First Saw In: 2015
Synopsis: Youthful Father Chuck O’Malley led a colorful life of sports, song, and romance before joining the Roman Catholic clergy, but his level gaze and twinkling eyes make it clear that he knows he made the right choice. After joining a parish, O’Malley’s worldly knowledge helps him connect with a gang of kids looking for direction and handle the business details of the church-building fund, winning over his aging, conventional superior, Father Fitzgibbon.
Did You Know?
Barry Fitzgerald received a nomination for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same performance; this was the only time in Academy history that this ever happened. Under Academy guidelines this is no longer possible. Due to wartime metal shortages, Fitzgerald received a plaster Oscar for Best Supporting Actor instead of a gold one; a few weeks later he broke the head off of it while practicing his golf swing.
And now a Word from the Guise:
Though I did really enjoy this film as one of those “feel-good movies”, there were a few things that really bothered me: When Father Fitzgibbon tells Carol to go home and wait for the right man to make an honest woman out of her; later when Mr. Haines is appalled that his son is “living off of his wife”, because everyone knows that husbands shouldn’t allow their wives to work!
The scene that I really agitated me though was when Father O’Malley is being reprimanded for the broken window. The man who’s window was broken is angry with him and rightly so: rather than immediately offering to pay for the window, O’Malley simply apologises. When the man won’t accept it, O’Malley gets defensive and essentially says, “I’ve already apologised twice, what more do you want from me?” We’re supposed to be rooting for O’Malley, obviously, because he’s the main character, but then it’s taken to the next level when the old man says he’s an atheist. Now we’re really rooting for O’Malley, because everyone knows that atheists are mean, awful people! But you know what, regardless if I was religious or an atheist, you better believe that I’d be livid with someone who was responsible for breaking my window and then had the nerve to make me feel guilty for not simply accepting their apology and demanding that they pay for the repairs too. But anyway, enough of my blither-blather.
Those fallacies notwithstanding, I did really like this film. It was uplifting, sincere, and jovial. Barry Fitzgerald is delightful as curmudgeonly Father Fitzgibbon. And Bing Crosby has a voice that will just turn you into butter.
Oscar Madness Ranking – ??? out of 233