Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

On Location

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

On Location - "Going My Way"

This is Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street - a big, hulking Spanish Gothic thing. The design was patterned after the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome and it has a Roman basilica fašade with a Celtic cross at the peak, and Gothic features like a rose window above the choir loft, and has a Spanish red-tile roof. It'll do.  Paramount thought so.

Paramount Pictures filmed Going My Way here in 1944 - Bing Crosby won his Oscar for his Father O'Malley, the happy-go-lucky young priest who bumped heads with staid pastor Barry Fitzgerald.  The movie itself won the Academy Award as Best Picture of 1944 and led to the sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's. In the films the church was called "St. Dominic's."  The Barry Fitzgerald role in "Going My Way" was actually based on the pastor here (from 1923-1949), Monsignor Nicholas Conneally. He was a friend of writer-director Leo McCarey, who patterned the role on his friend.  The dining room scenes in the first movie featured an exact replica (rebuilt in the studio) of the present dining room in the Saint Monica Rectory.

Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street

The big song from the first movie was "Swinging on a Star" - "Would you like to swing on a star? / Carry moonbeams home in a jar?"  That won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Song.  The words and music were from Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen. The Bing Crosby recording was number one for nine weeks that year.

That sort of fits the place. There's the annual three-day charity event here - "Octoberfair."  Recent fairs have been hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger (with his wife, Maria Shriver), and by Tony Danza. Parishioners here include Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Kelsey Grammar, June Lockhart, and the late Lawrence Welk attended mass here.  In March 1998 there was the wedding of "Xena, Warrior Princess" here - that would be Lucy Lawless actually.  The whole cast showed up, including co-star ReneÚ "Gabrielle" O'Connor.

At the 1997 Octoberfair comic Chris Farley served as a celebrity Chili Cook-Off judge - and died of a drug overdose two months later. The January 1998 memorial service for Chris Farley was here. Tom Arnold gave the eulogy, and others in attendance included Jay Leno, Gary Busey and Jim Belushi. And another morbid detail, in 1989 the memorial service for Lucille Ball was held here.

This is all very odd.

In any event, the church's website is here. The church was founded in 1886, before there was a City of Santa Monica.  The building you see here is from 1926. You've seen it in the movies.

Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street
Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street
Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street
Santa Monica Catholic Church - 725 California Street

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

[On Location]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik