Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee ...
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Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee Wee is hit by a car, returns. He runs away and joins his brother's gang. Flanagan and the boys capture the crooks and the reward saves the town. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
"There's no such thing in the world as a bad boy."
Spencer Tracy earned a second Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Father Flanagan, the inspirational founder of Boys Town, a haven for troubled youth on the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska. Flanagan was spurred to action by the execution of a prison inmate whose life paralleled many of the boys that Flanagan has come to know in his own home town. With a shoestring budget, and the aid of practical but good hearted businessman Dave Morris (Henry Hull), Flanagan begins the task of building a home and a legacy for hundreds of troubled young men.
Flanagan soon meets Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney), a street wise punk who is about to follow in the footsteps of his criminal brother; but it was big brother Joe (Edward Norris) who asks Flanagan to befriend Whitey. At first, Whitey wants none of it, but there always seems to be something holding Whitey back, whether the thought of a good meal, the effort to make an impression on the other boys, or just the friendship of another young boy Pee Wee (Bobs Watson) who looks up to Whitey. Rooney gives an incredibly fine performance here, portraying a wide range of character and emotions. His near breakdown when Pee Wee is injured and the thought that he was responsible is enough to cause a tear jerk reaction.
The film does get a bit simplistic at times, and some of the situations seem contrived to keep the story moving. But it's anchored by a sense of faith and hope in Father Flanagan's crusade to make the world just a little bit better for one boy at a time. In that, the film has a timeless appeal, and resonates as strongly today as it must have in the late 1930's.
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