The Fighting 69th (1940)

Passed  |   |  Action, Adventure, Biography  |  27 January 1940 (USA)
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Reviews: 25 user | 18 critic

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.



(original screenplay), (original screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father Duffy
George Brent ...
'Wild Bill' Donovan
Jeffrey Lynn ...
Joyce Kilmer
'Crepe Hanger' Burke
Lieutenant Ames
Lt. 'Long John' Wynn
William Lundigan ...
Timmy Wynn
Paddy Dolan
Henry O'Neill ...
The Colonel
Captain Mangan
Sammy Cohen ...
Mike Murphy
Harvey Stephens ...
Major Anderson
Private Turner (as DeWolf Hopper)


"The Fighting 69th" is a First World War regiment of mostly New York-Irish soldiers. Amongst a cocky crew, perhaps the cockiest is Jerry Plunkett, a scrappy fellow who looks out only for himself. The officers and non-coms of the regiment do their best to instill discipline in Plunkett, and the chaplain, Father Duffy, tries to make Plunkett see the greater good, all to no avail. Behind the lines or in the trenches, Plunkett acts selfishly and cowardly, eventually costing the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. A final act of cowardice leads to terrible consequences, but Plunkett sees in them a chance to redeem himself...if only he can. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Jammed With Action ! . . Loaded With Excitement ! . . . And Every Thrill-Packed Word Is True !


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| | |

Release Date:

27 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actual archived war combat footage was used in the film, as was footage of soldiers marching through the Arch of Triumph. See more »


After the skirmish in the woods, an "unconscious" German prisoner obligingly stands on his feet prior to being carried back to the American lines. See more »


Terence 'Crepe-Hanger' Burke: Believe me, in the next war there's gonna be three guys missing - me and the two guys that's chasin' me.
See more »


Featured in Mr. Skeffington (1944) See more »


Over There
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by George M. Cohan
In the score when the train leaves with the soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

Father Duffy's Regiment
14 December 2000 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE FIGHTING 69th (Warner Brothers, 1940), directed by William Keighley, teams James Cagney and Pat O'Brien for the seventh time on screen. A fine pair of fine Irish actors who were reportedly best friends in real life, they were first united in HERE COMES THE NAVY (1934), which was followed by other military themes such as DEVIL DOGS OF THE AIR and CEILING ZERO (both 1935).

In THE FIGHTING 69th, which is based on a factual presentation of the 69th's war record and set during the World War, features O'Brien in one of his best roles as Father Francis Duffy (an actual character), with Cagney playing Jerry Plunkett (a fictional character) from Brooklyn, NY, who joins the regiment. At first he defies authority and feels the world revolves around him, but when it is time for him to go out and face real combat, he changes his tune after hearing the sounds of bombs, seeing the sight of dead bodies around him, and goes into hysterical outbursts, showing that not only is he just a coward, but the one responsible for the death of several of the men in his company. In true Hollywood tradition, coward redeems himself when given a second chance, thanks to the grace of Father Duffy.

Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, where this war story is shown, comments that THE FIGHTING 69th was one of the biggest money makers of 1940. With an all-star cast of only male performers, it presents Warner Brothers veteran stock players as George Brent, Jeffrey Lynn, Frank McHugh, Alan Hale, Dennis Morgan and Dick Foran, many playing actual men of The Fighting 69th, especially Lynn as famous poet Joyce Kilmer. In spite of it being historically inaccurate, good acting, humorous moments (especially by McHugh) and serious battle scenes make this still worth seeing. Beware of shorter prints. Originally distributed to theaters at 89 minutes, Turner Classic Movies had acquired a latter reissue 79 minute copy that eliminated the introduction of the main actors as shown through scenes/or outtakes from the movie with their faces over the names and their acting roles, along with some early portions of the story, and the closing casting credits. In order to view the complete print from the 1940 print, a 1990s video copy from MGM/UA had to be purchased or rented. After many years of having the 79 minute print presented on TCM, a complete 89 minute copy finally aired Saturday, July 29, 2006. (****)

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