Sep 13, 2015

Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary's


And now comes the second-nominated priest performance of 1945, the second in a row from Bing Crosby (playing the same character to boot!), and the fourth in the Best Actor category total across 1944-1945 (40%'s as painful for me as it is hilarious). Ultimately, The Bells of St. Mary's isn't very different from Going My Way, and Crosby's work in the sequel is pretty much the same schtick we had seen the year before.

...And yet, I couldn't help but like Father O'Malley. It's bizarre. I should very well hate this performance, as I typically don't like seeing the same thing repeated, but I don't. This is what I mean when when I was trashing on Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom; what Crosby lacks in amazing material, he more than makes up for with his winning charm. I've used this word before in his Going My Way review and I'll use it again: his is the definition of "oozing" charm, it's so natural and doesn't look as though he's trying whatsoever (it's this very charm that I feel was also lacking with a certain Spencer Tracy). I, in my self-righteous hate of all things hokey and religious, am inexplicably forced to like this guy, and that is wholly a testament to his innate charisma (perhaps this is an ability that was blessed unto him as a performer and what not). At the end of the day this is still one DULL film, but I found myself aww-ing a lot throughout Crosby's performance; he has an ability to say things that sound awfully straight-from-the-heart. There's nothing achieved here that can't already be seen in Going My Way; if anything this is solely an extension of something that had previously worked well, a continuation of something that--while pleasant--doesn't exactly feel necessary. But the crux of this film is its lead characters, and Crosby does wonderful job at hitting the bare minimum requirements of Father O'Malley out of the ball park, making him a completely likable and approachable presence. For that I give this


  1. Once again, very precise and perceptive. BTW, now that I've read many of your entries on this blog I have to tell you what a talent for writing you have. Your entries are always informed, cohesive and cogent. Most importantly, they have a natural flow that includes the information you want to share but in a style that is your own and has a personal "voice". I'm not just saying this because I share an interest in WHAT you write about. You'd be a good writer regardless of subject matter. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Click5! Writing has always been something I've been able to do with ease, though I've never thought myself to be a real "writer", if that makes any sense. But I'm glad you enjoy what you're reading here!

    2. Think of yourself as a "real writer", since you write like one.

  2. Sorry, but I think I said or meant to with Going My Way, I can't watch Crosby without thinking of him beating his kids till they bled. Son Gary's harrowing tales told to Phil Donahue in the late 1970s stay with me more than any Crosby characterization. An alcoholic bedlam was the Crosby home. The more kindly a part he plays, the more insulting anger I sense.

  3. Ingrid elevates the film a bit.
    I don't remember much about Crosby in it. I had too many dilemmas with the Actress pick to think about him. :)