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Boys Town (1938)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | 9 September 1938 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Gene Reynolds ...
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The Judge
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The Bishop
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John Hargraves
Bobs Watson ...
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Skinny
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Tommy Anderson
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Freddie Fuller
Jimmy Butler ...
Paul Ferguson
Sidney Miller ...
Mo Kahn
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The life story of a boy who was "born to be hung"! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

9 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Boys' Town  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Father Edward Flanagan may have been the basis for Harold Gray's character Collar John, a boxer turned priest who appeared in his comic strip "Little Orphan Annie". See more »

Goofs

Whitey lowers his baton twice when he steps up to make his election speech. See more »

Quotes

Dan Farrow: [panicky, about to die in the electric chair] How much time have I got, Father?
Father Edward J. Flanagan: Eternity begins in forty-five minutes, Dan.
Dan Farrow: What happens then?
Father Edward J. Flanagan: Oh, a bad minute or two.
Dan Farrow: And after that?
Father Edward J. Flanagan: Well, Dan, that's a question that scientists and philosophers have been asking for a million years.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood vs. Religion (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

My Mammy
(1921) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
Title Sung a cappella by Mickey Rooney
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"There's no such thing in the world as a bad boy."
30 October 2004 | by (Florida, New York) – See all my reviews

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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