Welcome Stranger (1947)
Crosby and Fitzgerald re-unite and this time out they aren’t men of the cloth. After their Oscar winning turns in 1944’s Going My Way it seemed inevitable that they would be paired again. This time out Barry Fitzgerald is an elderly small town doctor who is set in his ways and hoping to find a replacement that will allow him to take a much needed vacation. Paging Bing Crosby!
The set up where they meet and instantly take a disliking to each other is just plain fun. It’s a case of new methods vs. old. Electric shaver vs. straight razor. Joan Caulfield turns up for Crosby to romance and Percy Kilbride in full training mode for his Pa Kettle role appears as a cabbie.
This is Crosby at the tale end of his hottest cinema stretch and as good as he is, Fitzgerald arguably steals every scene he’s in. Barry was after all one of those great character actors who knew how to shine on screen even when sharing it with the likes of Crosby, John Wayne or Cheetah the Chimp. If it wasn’t for Bob Hope, perhaps we would have had more pairings of these two fine actors. And yes, Bing can call a country square dance. Nice companion piece to Going My Way and follows the same winning formula. No Oscars this time but seek it out. It’s worth the effort.
Bing and Barry would give it one more go in Top O’ The Morning from 1949. It’s a movie that has still eluded me after all these years so if you have any ideas where I might locate it then point me in the right direction.