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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 both boys go to reform school. Father Flanagan exposes the conditions in the school and the boys are released to him. Ted's dog is killed but Ted can walk. The Maitlands work to pay off the debts threatening Boys Town. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney return as Father Flanagan and Whitey Marsh in this sentimental sequel to the almost equally sentimental original "Boys Town." However, the sentiment is in a good cause, and both films are ideal for those rainy afternoons on the sofa with a pound of chocolates and a box of Kleenex.
As he was in the original film, Spencer Tracy is the rock at the center of "Men of Boys Town." His performance as Flanagan is solid, reassuring, and subtle. Tracy was a master of film acting and never indulged in histrionics; however, when he spoke his words carried weight, and his figure had a presence that commanded attention. Mickey Rooney, on the other hand, could overplay a part, and his Whitey Marsh in the original "Boys Town" teeters perilously on being over the top. However, three years later, both Rooney and Whitey are more mature, and the characterization benefits. Rooney has toned down and deepened his performance, and, with more screen time, he holds his own with Tracy.
The film's plot is melodramatic and includes a crippled boy, a dog, a potential adoption, an escapee from a reform school, and financial problems, all of which, not surprisingly, resolve themselves in a flood of tears and smiles in the best tradition of old MGM movies. Bobs Watson returns as Pee Wee, and, although he should have outgrown the game with the candy in the drawers, he remains memorable for the waterworks that he could evidently turn on and off at the director's command. Anne Revere, no slouch in the tears department herself, has a small memorable part near the film's conclusion. Lee J. Cobb, who took over for Henry Hull as Dave Morris, Father Flanagan's friend, is effective, although there is an initial jolt when he appears, because his is the only major role that was recast from the original film.
The original "Boys Town" and this sequel must have drawn millions into the coffers of Father Flanagan's home for boys. When the music soars over heart-rending scenes and Tracy intones his philosophy of there being no such thing as a bad boy, only the hardest curmudgeon would not be moved to reach for a checkbook.
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