I would like to clarify that since these movies are all Best Picture winners, I have a perfectly good reason for giving 5 starts to 3 movies in a row. I must admit, when I looked at the list of Best Pictures, I had never heard of this one. But I quickly found out that this movie has quite it’s own place in history. For one thing, it won Best Original Song for the iconic ‘Swinging On A Star’. For another, nobody in the academy could agree what role Barry Fitzgerald played: co-lead or supporting player? He ended up getting nominated for BOTH awards, and after that they changed the rules. (Even though Fitzgerald did take home the Supporting Actor Oscar.)
Charles O’Malley (Bing Crosby) is applying to be a priest at St. Dominic’s Church. Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald) doesn’t take kindly to O’Malley, but the problem is he doesn’t have a choice. O’Malley was sent by a bishop to take charge of the church. The two men try to warm up to each other, despite the fact that they both have very different ways of doing things. And it’s up to O’Malley to show Fitzgibbon and the people of the town that religion doesn’t always have to be downbeat.
This movie works in the same way ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ does. It takes a world that we recognize: in this case, the world of the church, and turns it on it’s side. There isn’t much focus on the actual Gospel, simply the way that St. Dominic’s is changed by this man. Crosby plays a very naive man who never seems to distant from reality, and brings a lot of charm to his character. And considering that it’s the only performance to be nominated twice, Barry Fitzgerald is fantastic in this movie, playing a somewhat grumpy priest who eventually gives in to O’Malley’s charm.
I give credit to the art direction and editing for helping to pull this movie off. It was the highest grossing film of the year when it came out, and it’s one I strongly reccomend.