Bing is Father Charles "Chuck" O'Malley, a cheerful young priest from St. Louis who's brought East to turn around the fortunes of St. Dominic's Church, a parish in New York City. St. Dominic's isn't doing that well, with the church well behind on its mortgage payments and the mortgage holder threatening foreclosure. Parish priest Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald), a kindly man but set in his traditionalist ways, does not take well to Father O'Malley, who is easygoing and casual and does stuff like play golf. What Father Fitzgibbon doesn't know is that Father O'Malley has actually been designated to take over St. Dominic's, but in secret so as not to hurt Father Fitzgibbon's feelings.
Father O'Malley sets about trying to get the parish out of arrears. Other problems that arise include a parishoner who's being evicted from her apartment, a teenage runaway named Carol James who O'Malley extends a helping hand to, and the local gang of delinquent youths, whom O'Malley decides to make into the church choir.
Going My Way was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won seven, including Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor for Fitzgerald, and Best Song for "Swinging on a Star". It was followed by a "sequel", The Bells of St. Mary's, which was actually written first.
- As You Know: "How long has it been since we've seen each other?" "Four years!"
- Broken Glass Penalty: Father O'Malley, who is temporarily playing right field in a game of stickball, takes the rap when one of the kids hits the ball through the window of a Grumpy Old Man.
- But Now I Must Go: The film ends with Father O'Malley leaving, having been dispatched to fix another church.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Just when Father O'Malley has sold the rights to his song "Swinging on a Star" and the church has apparently been saved—it burns down.
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Tony does this repeatedly when his fellow delinquent Herman freaks out over the idea of joining a church choir.
- Good Shepherd: Father O'Malley's specialty is showing people that religion can be fun and can lead to happiness, and doesn't have to be dour and forbidding.
- Gossipy Hens: Mrs. Quimp, the mean-spirited old lady who likes to run to Father Fitzgibbon to pass on unflattering rumors about people.Father Fitzgibbon: Garrulous old biddy.
- Gray Rain of Depression: When Father Fitzgibbon up and leaves the church after finding out he's been replaced by Father O'Malley.
- Have a Gay Old Time: "It's queer, isn't it, Father?"—Mrs. Quimp when suggesting Carol James is a kept woman.
- Hey, Let's Put on a Show: To settle the church's debts, Father O'Malley tries to put on a performance of a song he wrote in order to sell it to a music publisher.
- Hollywood Atheist: The guy who gets his window shattered by the kids' stickball game is a mean and abrasive man who insults Father O'Malley, declares himself to be an atheist, and then for an extra dose of hypocrisy says he's superstitious.
- Irish Priest: Father Fitzgibbon. He came from the old country as a young man and yearns to visit Ireland again.
- Officer O'Hara: Everyone else in the neighborhood is Irish Catholic so the local beat cop, Officer McCarthy, might as well be too. Officer McCarthy brings Carol James to the church because she doesn't have anywhere else to go.
- The Runaway: Carol James has run off from her over-strict parents. Of course, as she says repeatedly, she is eighteen.
- Source Music: There's no score, but characters are frequently singing songs, like when Father O'Malley and the choir are singing "Swinging on a Star" or Jenny is performing a scene from Carmen.
- Stage Names: In-Universe. Father O'Malley's old girlfriend Jenny Tuffel has hit it big as an opera singer under the name Genevieve Linden.
- Title Theme Tune: Father O'Malley tries to sell a music publisher his song "Going My Way" in an effort to raise money for the church but the publisher isn't interested.
- Welcome Episode: Starts with Father O'Malley arriving at St. Dominic's.
- You Just Told Me: "Does he know that you're in charge?" is how Father O'Dowd manages to get Father O'Malley to confess that he has been put in charge of St. Dominic's.