Going My Way: Critical Status–Past and Present

Seen from today’s perspective, Going My Way is a mediocre if enjoyable film.  As a middle-brow comedy, it is neither one of the best films from director Leo McCarey, though he won the Best Director Oscar.  His 1937 screwball comedy, The Awful Truth, is far superior.

Back in the 1940s, the movie was well received by most reviewers.  According to the N.Y. Times, Going My Way was “the best” of Crosby’s career, which is “saying a lot for a performer who has been one of the steadiest joys of the screen. But, in this Leo McCarey film,…he has definitely found his sturdiest role to date.”

The N.Y. Times’ Bosley Crowther, then unfortunately the dean of the city’s reviewers, criticized the film’s length while lauding Crosby, and noting that “he has been stunningly supported by Barry Fitzgerald, who plays one of the warmest characters the screen has ever known. As a matter of fact, it is a cruel slight to suggest that this is Mr. Crosby’s show. It is his and Mr. Fitzgerald’s together. And they make it one of the rare delights of the year.”

Going My Way was the highest-grossing picture of 1944, and was nominated for 10 Oscars, winning 7, including Best Picture.  Its commercial success made Bing Crosby the biggest box-office draw of the year, a record he would hold for the remainder of the 1940s.

Crosby received his last Oscar nomination in 1954 for a serious dramatic role in The Country Girl, opposite Grace Kelly and William Holden.