Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Going My Way/Holiday Inn

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, November 14, 1999

I’m sure the way to say what I’d like to say will occur to me after you’re gone.

Special features

Cast Information3
Production Notes3
Trailer5

This is a double feature with Holiday Inn. This is a very sweet movie, with a real tear-jerker (but happy) ending. “Holiday Inn”, on the other hand, is a showpiece for Crosby’s singing, Astair’s dancing, and Berlin’s holiday music.

RecommendationPossible Purchase
DirectorsLeo McCarey, Mark Sandrich
Movie Rating6
Transfer Quality7
Overall Rating6
Formats
  • Academy Ratio

Moving around the menus is very, very strange. When you stick the disk in, it pops up a choice: “Going My Way”, or “Holiday Inn”. When the movie ends, it returns you to this menu. If you want to get to the special features, you need to choose the movie whose features you want, and then press “menu” on your remote. This brings you to the special features for the movie that you are watching.

If you want to switch movies while watching, you don’t use the menu button. The “title” button on your remote returns you to the movie choice menu. If you want to switch special features, press “title”, start playing the movie you want, and then press “menu”.

This twisted selection method isn’t mentioned in the DVD’s insert. You can probably guess it by paying close attention to your player’s LED screen.

These are both wonderful, light-hearted movies. In both of them, Bing Crosby is the star. In “Holiday Inn” he shares the stage with Fred Astaire.

In “Going My Way”, Bing plays “young Father Chuck” O’Malley, new priest at St. Dominic’s, a Catholic diocese in one of New York City’s apparently Irish-Italian neighborhoods ten blocks from the Met. The old priest, Father Fitzgibbon, is the church’s founder, and doesn’t think much of the young assistant, nor of his choice in children’s music. Father O’Malley, in an attempt to rein in the neighborhood thugs, is teaching them to sing choir. He also has a way with beautiful women, which of course doesn’t help the old priest’s opinion of him.

However, the church is in trouble: behind on the church property mortgage, and nobody going to church, at least not anybody who counts. The police officer, the banker’s son; the children may or may not go but they definitely aren’t there in spirit. O’Malley’s job is to turn this around and get the St. Dominic’s back on track.

While both O’Malley and Fitzgibbon are Irish, Fitzgibbon is from Ireland. He still writes to his mother in County Kerry and she sends him a bottle of Irish whiskey every Christmas. The neighborhood itself appears to be mostly Irish, and some Italian. The choir also contains one child of apparently Asian descent, and one of African descent, out of about twenty children. Nowadays this might be considered PC tokenism, but was probably a tiny bit more groundbreaking for 1944. (There are no women in the boys’ choir, of course…)

“Going My Way” also features contralto Risë Stevens as Father Chuck’s pre-ordination love interest, who also helps the choir make money for the church funds. And boy do they need it! Just as Father Fitzgibbons was thinking of finally going back home to visit his mother, disaster strikes. But don’t worry. This wartime film has a happy ending. There are only two pieces of entertainment that can make me cry. Michelle Shocked’s “Come a Long Way” is one, and “Going My Way” is the other.

“Holiday Inn” is even more lighthearted than “Going My Way”. No crying at the end of this one. Singer-songwriter Tim Hardy (Bing Crosby) and dancer Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) keep trying to woo the same women, and suave, debonair Ted is the winner every time. Tim and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) were about to be married and get out of show business, moving to a farm in Connecticut. But Ted turned on the charm to make sure his dancing partner wouldn’t leave, and Tim ended up going to the farm alone.

When the farm life turned out to be harder work then he thought it would be, Tim came up with the idea of the “Holiday Inn”, an entertainment venue only open on Holidays, letting him relax the rest of the year. He ends up falling in love with his first singer, Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), but by this time Lila has left Ted for a millionaire, and Ted is looking for a new dancing partner. Since he likes his friend’s taste in women, Ted looks to Linda and the game starts all over again.

Irving Berlin wrote the music for “Holiday Inn”, mostly a collection of Holiday-themed songs for each Holiday. The Valentine’s Day number, when Tim is musically warning Linda that they’re in for trouble, is especially poignant. The combination of subtlety and brash in that scene is an example of the great writing, directing, and acting in this movie. This isn’t just a showcase for a singer, Bing Crosby has really come into his own as an actor by the time they made this movie in 1942.

The “Going My Way/Holiday Inn” DVD is nice. We don’t get a whole lot of extras: just the standard text-only production notes and cast information, as well as a trailer from one of the re-releases. But we’re also getting two movies for the price of one. While I’d love to see some commentary on the movies or some cut musical scenes or practice, as in “The Wizard of Oz”, I can hardly complain about the choices made on this disk. Except, of course, for my own personal pet peeve about Universal disabling “Last Memo”, making it difficult to watch the movie in more than one sitting. Why do they do this? They’ve disabled this feature on practically all of the Universal DVDs I own.

If you like these old movies, you’ll definitely want to rent or buy this disk. I suspect that if you’re a Bing Crosby fan you’ll want to just out and buy it. The video and sound are clean; this is a reasonable transfer and a great deal.

Recommendation: Possible Purchase

DirectorsLeo McCarey, Mark Sandrich
ActorsBing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Risë Stevens, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale
MusicIrving Berlin
Spoken languageEnglish
SubtitlesEnglish, French
Special FeaturesCast Information, Production Notes, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Going My Way/Holiday Inn…

If you enjoy Barry Fitzgerald, you might also be interested in The Quiet Man.

If you enjoy Christmas, you might also be interested in Christmas Eve and Real frothin’ eggnog.

If you enjoy musical, you might also be interested in A Star is Born, Almost Elvis, Amadeus, Cabaret, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Blues Brothers, The Music Man, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz.