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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Mr. and Mrs. Maitland invite Whitey to their home on a trial basis. Whitey tries to visit a friend in reform school and inmate Flip is hiding in car as Whitey leaves. Flip steals money and ... See full summary »
Langdon Towne and Hunk Marriner join Major Rogers' Rangers as they wipe out an Indian village. They set out for Fort Wentworth, but when they arrive they find no soldiers and none of the supplies they expected.
Inventor Thomas Edison's boyhood is chronicled and shows him as a lad whose early inventions and scientific experiments usually end up causing disastrous results. As a result, the towns ... See full summary »
When American newspaperman and adventurer Henry M. Stanley comes back from the western Indian wars, his editor James Gordon Bennett sends him to Africa to find Dr. David Livingstone, the ... See full summary »
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>
The day after Spencer Tracy won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in this film, an MGM publicist released a statement - without consulting Tracy first - that the actor would donate his Oscar to the real Boys Town in Nebraska. Tracy agreed to make the donation if the Academy would send him a replacement Oscar. When the replacement arrived, the engraving on the award read: "Best Actor - Dick Tracy." See more »
While the boys are praying out front for the injured Pee Wee, Whitey goes behind them and grabs a branch of a tree with no leaves. When he turns around, the branch now is covered with leaves. See more »
The film takes a long time to get going - I almost gave up on it after the first half-hour. But mercifully, after the documentary-style and resolutely non-judgmental opening, "Boys Town" acquires a plot - and some sense of direction. The trigger for this is the introduction of the first character in the entire film who is allowed to be flawed. So far, everyone else has been shown to be either a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, a rascal with a heart of gold, or an unashamed saint; but Joe Marsh is a flashy and unrepentant young criminal.
He is not entirely beyond redemption, however. He loves his younger brother, who hero-worships him in turn and longs to emulate him; and it is doubtless a sad reflection on human nature that it is only with the arrival of strife in the Eden of Boys Town, in the shape of Joe and Whitey Marsh, that the film manages to become at all interesting.
What follows is a story that has been told many times before, from Louisa May Alcott's "Jo's Boys" onwards. This is the story of a rough boy who rebels against unaccustomed gentle surroundings and tries to corrupt his new world to match the one he knows, and whose ultimate saving grace is his protective love for a younger child.
The main problem for this film is the role of Father Flanagan, a thankless part for any actor. The man has - literally - no weaknesses, no human flaws, not even any self-doubt. His charm can apparently melt the hardest heart and conjure water out of a stone - or out of a hard-headed pawnbroker, which according to the script comes to the same thing. The man is too likeable to be 'insufferable'; but it was surely not the intention of the director that the audience should end up by willing Whitey to resist the priest's moral pressure, to shield his brother even at his own expense and that of his adopted community - and to be so pleased when the boy attempts to do so.
To be honest, I don't see that this part deserved to win an Oscar for Spencer Tracy - not because the actor played badly, but because the character as written simply doesn't present him with enough challenging material to demonstrate his craft. It is the child actors who play the various boys who deserved the real praise in this film. Ultimately I suspect Tracy's Oscar was an award aimed at rewarding the efforts of the *real* Father Flanagan rather than at his performance in this film.
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