This was the third time Crosby donned the clerical collar for a movie and by far the least impressive. It can best be described as a religious musical comedy that owes a lot to Damon Runyon, but it fails to come close to the Broadway characters chronicled by the man who inspired GUYS AND
DOLLS. Crosby runs a show business church (there really was one, St. Malachy's, in the theater district in New York) where just about all the devout are in some way aligned with the entertainment field. Crosby reads the show-biz trade papers and runs his services like Fat Jack Leonard monologues.
Enter Reynolds, a naive collegian who wants to make a lot of money in show business because her father needs an operation. Crosby knows Reynolds' father, so he agrees to play surrogate daddy while she's in the big city. Reynolds gets a job at a tawdry nightclub managed by Wagner, a "Pal Joey"-type
rat who wants to take advantage of Reynolds. Crosby tells him to lay off. Crosby takes on the job of producing a charity show for TV and brings in several other clergymen. Wagner arrives and asks that he be allowed to appear in the show. Crosby has no intention of letting that happen, then Wagner
says he's charmed Reynolds into agreeing to marry him, and Crosby is willing to let Wagner be on the show if he promises to forget about Reynolds. The show is a mishmash of songs, and when Wagner comes center stage, he goes through a remarkable conversion and tells the millions watching that he's
a heel. Crosby is touched by this and gives his approval for Wagner and Reynolds to marry, then performs the service. The couple go to Florida for their honeymoon and the end title reads "The Beginning."
A dull movie that is also tasteless, with a drunk scene, a seduction scene, Reynolds shaking her behind while Crosby and a nun watch, plus several songs that are unhummable, unwhistleable, and unmemorable. It is also heavy-handed, with cuts between singing and Jesus on the cross, just in case
anyone should forget that religion is a part of show people's lives. Tunes by the normally reliable Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen include "The Girl Most Likely to Succeed" (sung by Wagner, Reynolds), "Chico's Choo Choo" (sung by Wagner, Reynolds), "The Secret of Christmas" (sung by Crosby), "The
Night Rock 'n' Roll Died" (sung by Judy Harriet, a former Mouseketeer), "I Couldn't Care Less," "You Can't Love 'Em All," "Hanoveh." The studio knew they had a turkey and tried a "semi-preview," showing half the film to the press. It didn't help. Good comedians Walston, McHugh, Cabot and Besser
were wasted. Stella Stevens does a bit as a chorine. By this time, Crosby was becoming hard to cast, as he was too old to play romantic leads. A sappy film with unsympathetic characters and a poor--though Oscar-nominated--score.
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