The success of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald in GOING MY WAY would lead to the second of Crosby's three successful male teams (the other two being Bob Hope and Fred Astaire). Oddly enough nobody ever thought of putting three of them or all four into the same film, but problems regarding budgets and a decent, sensible script would probably have prevented it. In any event, such a script would have relied on Crosby being at the center of action/activity. In his individual pairings he does share the screen time with each partner.
But GOING MY WAY created a sequel that did not bring back Barry. It was THE BELLS OF ST. MARY, a Christmas story about a Catholic religious school run by Ingrid Bergman. It too was a success, but it did not have Fitzgerald's elderly, wise but cantankerous priest in it. Fortunately WELCOME STRANGER was made a few years after, and gave Bing and Barry another good script with equal time to shine in their roles.
Basically it is the same plot: A small New England town has had the services of Fitzgerald as their doctor. He's been a good doctor, and has been campaigning for a new hospital for the town. The town council, represented by Charles Dingle, has finally agreed. But Dingle has doubts about the elderly Fitzgerald running the hospital - he wants a younger man, with scholarly attainments.
But this is all in the future. Fitzgerald has to go to Boston on a business trip, and he comes back on one of the crack railway trains that used to crisscross our country. He is sitting in a compartment with a young man, Crosby, who is going to answer an advertisement for a doctor who can assist an elderly doctor in a small town in Maine (you guessed it - it's an advertisement the crusty Fitzgerald was pressured into putting into the paper). Soon the two are arguing (correction: Fitzgerald is arguing - Crosby is calm, as always), about a missing pipe belonging to Fitzgerald (Crosby finds Fitzgerald was sitting on it). Crosby leaves the "chilly" compartment for the dining room, and orders the fresh trout for dinner. Unfortunately Fitzgerald follows soon after, and he has been looking forward to his favorite dinner on this train (you guessed it: the trout). He's definitely deflated to find that 1) they are out of trout now, and 2) Crosby got the last trout.
So begins another typical "opposites" attract Bing and Barry story. Instead of Catholic priests it is country doctors. But Crosby slowly, begrudgingly gains the respect and friendship of the older man again, and likewise he finds that Fitzgerald is a first rate, sensible doctor.
Crosby also starts dating Joan Caulfield, which annoys Robert Shayne her present beau. What's worse, Shayne is the son of Charles Dingle, and this makes Dingle less than friendly to Crosby as a doctor, or a potential assistant head to the new hospital. Both are soon pushing a friend of Shayne's, Larry Young.
The film is an amusing, well-made comedy, and the townspeople are quite realistic. Even the pompous Dingle has a moment of realism that lifts him from his usual villainous activities into the real world of cynicism. He is finding the town has a possible medical emergency, and a vaccine might be needed. He contacts the town's Congressman, Thurston Hall, who we see in his office in Washington. The two have a so-called serious conversation about the vaccine, with Hall going through his typical bluster, while Dingle (who whatever his pomposity was always straight to the point) tries to keep to the topic. Hall keeps forgetting or confusing his Dingle's identity or name, until finally Charles zings it very nicely to Thuston: "Why is it you can only remember my name around election time?" It was a brief moment but Charles finally spoke for all of us!
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Crusty Dr. McRory of Fallbridge, Maine hires a replacement for his vacation sight unseen. Alas, he and young singing doctor Jim Pearson don't hit it off; but Pearson is delighted to stay, once he meets teacher Trudy Mason. The locals, taking their cue from McRory, cold-shoulder Pearson, especially Trudy's stuffy fiancée. But then, guess who needs an emergency appendectomy?
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
September 21, 2022 at 05:10 AM