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The Fighting 69th (1940)

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
'Wild Bill' Donovan
Joyce Kilmer
'Crepe Hanger' Burke
Lieutenant Ames
Lt. 'Long John' Wynn
Timmy Wynn
Paddy Dolan
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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Passed | See all certifications »




| | |

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?


The poem read at the funeral of the soldiers killed in the dugout is"'Rouge Bouquet" by Joyce Kilmer (portrayed by Jeffrey Lynn). This scene and preceding ones are based on an actual incident in the war, when a German heavy artillery bombardment on March 12, 1918, buried 21 men of the 69th; 14 of the bodies were never recovered. 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 »


Jack O'Keefe: [referring to Plunkett] Gee, that guy hates himself.
Sergeant 'Big Mike' Wynn: Well, that makes it unanimous.
See more »


Referenced in Shining Through (1992) See more »


The Old Gray Mare
Played and sung by the soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

Diddly day it's The Fighting 69th.
17 May 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Jerry Plunket is a street brawling, tough as boots rebel from Brooklyn, he has no time for the traditions of the all Irish 69th New York Regiment, and he has even less time for his army superiors. But as Jerry is about to find out, War has a knack of making or breaking a man......

It's not hard to see why The Fighting 69th was a very popular movie back on its release, coming out as America was about to enter WWII, it's flag waving patriotism targeted its audience with gusto supreme and lashes of Irish sentiment, furthering the cause was in having James Cagney in the critical lead role of Plunkett. Yet oddly, Plunkett is the made up character here, for the story is based on actual characters that the film wishes to honour. Father Duffy {Pat O'Brien} & Wild Bill Donovan {George Brent} being two highly respected men from this actual {and highly acclaimed} fighting unit.

The story follows a now well trodden path, brash cocky man learns lessons the hard way, is there to be redemption come the finale ?, respect, bravery and indeed salvation are all given the once over by the makers here, there are few surprises but the film gets in there, does it's job, and leaves without lingering either side of the good or bad fence. The direction from William Keighley is vigorous, and the supporting players are solid, if unspectacular {haven't we seen this O'Brien turn before?}, but all and everything is second fiddle to the perfectly cast Cagney, bullish and stoic, his turn as Plunkett lifts the film above average, because without him the film would be instantly forgettable.

Enjoyable enough 6.5/10

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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