The Circus (1924) — PICK

Going My Way (1944) — PICK

 

Two classics have new home-video editions — and one is an Oscar-winning landmark depiction of Catholicism that was a favorite of Pope Pius XII.

Going My Way stars Bing Crosby as the definitive Golden Age Hollywood priest, Father O’Malley, whose low-key charm and crooning, ivory-tickling songs played an iconic role in the mainstreaming of Catholicism in Protestant America.

Like many other pious productions of that era, the plot revolves less around directly religious concerns than practical and personal ones: saving the parish from financial troubles; a parishioner facing eviction; etc.

It hasn’t aged as well as some (e.g., The Song of Bernadette), but Going My Way is still pleasantly entertaining.

New from the Criterion Collection, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus is a brilliant gem about the Tramp’s misadventures in a traveling circus, where he attempts to evade a policeman pursuing him for a crime he didn’t commit, in the process accidentally becoming funnier than the clowns and falling in love with the ringmaster’s daughter.

Highlights include the Tramp posing as an animatronic figure, a sequence in which he finds himself locked in a lion cage, and a wild tightrope-walking sequence beset by monkeys.

Great fun with an unmistakably Chaplinesque melancholy ending.

 

Caveat Spectator: Both films are fine family viewing.