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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.

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Writers:

(original screenplay), (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

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
...
Major Anderson
...
Private Turner (as DeWolf Hopper)
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Storyline

"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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

27 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Father Duffy: When did an Irishman need a prayer in a fight?
See more »


Soundtracks

Old Black Joe
(1860) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played by the Alabama National Guard Band
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User Reviews

Famous regiment gets the stock company treatment from Warner Bros...
28 May 2001 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

'The Fighting 69th' gets a lot of mileage out of every cliche you've ever seen in a war film. It's hokey corn from start to end--and yet, despite the fact that you've seen it all before--it's an enjoyable enough experience because of its stellar cast of Warner stock players.

James Cagney is the mug from Brooklyn who is nasty to one and all, described by one character as "the man they'd rather riddle with bullets than the Germans." Pat O'Brien is the true-life character of Father Duffy who has a major job on his hands trying to reform Cagney in time for the fadeout. Sensitive Jeffrey Lynn is Joyce Kilmer, the poet. Gruff Alan Hale is a tough sergeant. And just about every male contract player from William Lundigan to Frank McHugh to Dennis Morgan is present to depict the stereotyped characters that fill the screen.

As hokey as it is, it does a graphic job of showing what war is like under combat fire. The combat scenes are skillfully done, with shells and grenades and bombs making trenches hell and buildings collapse, all in very realistic fashion.

Cagney is his usual pugnacious self and his reform at the end is a little too abruptly handled. But the film is a brisk 80 minutes, as shown on TCM, and fairly entertaining if you can forgive the corn. Surprisingly, it is directed by William Keighley, whose sluggish work on "The Adventures of Robin Hood" caused him to be replaced by Michael Curtiz to give the film more punch. And yet, "The Fighting 69th" is anything but sluggish. A brisk, entertaining little war film.


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