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They Gave Him a Gun (1937)

 -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  7 May 1937 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 159 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

Jimmy is drafted and ends up in Fred's troop on his way to Europe. Jimmy becomes vicious with his gun, wins a medal, and weds Fred's nurse girlfriend, Rose. Back home years later, Rose ... See full summary »


(as W.S. Van Dyke II)
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Title: They Gave Him a Gun (1937)

They Gave Him a Gun (1937) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Complete credited cast:
Fred P. Willis
Rose Duffy
James 'Jimmy' Davis
Edgar Dearing ...
Sgt. Meadowlark
Mary Treen ...
Saxe (as Mary Lou Treen)
Charles Trowbridge ...


Jimmy is drafted and ends up in Fred's troop on his way to Europe. Jimmy becomes vicious with his gun, wins a medal, and weds Fred's nurse girlfriend, Rose. Back home years later, Rose discovers Jimmy is a gangster, has him arrested, and finds a job in Fred's circus as Jimmy escapes, determined to kill Fred. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 May 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

They Gave Him a Gun  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the movie, the rifle range scene was for real. The studio probably had help from the U.S. Government. See more »


Fred P. Willis: Don't you know us guys has gotta make the world safe for the Democrats? Now, personally, my only regret is that I got a life to lay down for my country. But will us dead have died in vain? Be yourself! Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! Fifty-four Forty or fight! Don't give up the ship until you see the whites of their eyes! Are we gonna stand for taxation without the pursuit of happiness? E pluribus unum! Hats off! Lafayette, we are here!
See more »


There Are Smiles
Composer unknown
Played when the carnival comes to town
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User Reviews

Tracy the Great
24 February 2009 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

They Gave Him a Gun (1937)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

MGM melodrama about two men, Fred (Spencer Tracy) a strong independent type and Jimmy (Franchot Tone) a rather weak one. The two met up in the Army and both fall in love with the same woman (Gladys George) but she eventually goes with Jimmy. After the war the two friends catch back up only this time Jimmy has started in with a gangster and it's up to Fred to try and save him. This film offers up some nice performances but the melodrama gets way too thick for its own good. In some ways this is yet another anti-war picture because the film's main message is that the government puts guns into the hands of young men and forces then to kill. Then, when they return home, they might not be able to find jobs so more guns get placed in their hands. That type of message or warning is something interesting but the movie can never really dive into it because we're caught up in a love triangle that we've seen countless times and a rather predictable one as it's simple to see what's going to happen to those involved. Tracy comes across with yet another good performance as the blowhard who will stop at nothing to keep his friend from getting into trouble. Toneis also very good in his role and really manages to come across as a weak, broken man. I wasn't too thrilled with George but God knows I've seen a lot worse. You can also look quick for Joe Sawyer who has a one-line role as a gangster. The movie could have been a lot better considering some of the talent involved but it can never rise above the mediocre screenplay.

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