This irresistible Oscar winner from writer-director Leo McCarey (An Affair to Remember
) stars Bing Crosby
as a low-key, crooning priest who joins the parish of a no-nonsense but sweet old Irish man of the cloth (Barry Fitzgerald). While Bing turns local toughs into a choir, the elder priest worries over the church building fund and whether he'll get a chance to see his old mother back in Ireland before she dies. One would have to have a heart of stone not to be won over by this charmer, with a lovely ending guaranteed to make you bawl for a week. --Tom Keogh
Youthful Father Chuck O'Malley (Bing Crosby) led a colourful 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 ageing, conventional superior (Barry Fitzgerald). Songs such as Swinging on a Star sparkle, and both Crosby and Fitzgerald do a fine job tugging at the heartstrings in a gentle, irresistible way that will make viewers return to this lovely film again and again. The overwhelming popularity of this film upon its release was only heightened by the many Academy Awards it won, and its sequel, The Bells of Saint Mary's
, starring Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, was released in theatres the next year to eager fans and more awards.