Based on the actual "Boy's Ranch" located in Oldham County, Texas northwest of Amarillo, Texas. The ranch was started in 1939 by ex-wrestler Cal Farley of Amarillo as a home for underprivileged boys when rancher Julian Bivins donated the old Tascosa courthouse and 120 acres of land for Farley's project. It started with Farley and his wife and nine boys, and currently has over 400 boys and fifty buildings on 4000 acres of farm/ranch land and its own post office and school. Now known as Cal Farley's Boy's Ranch. This film is a semi-western version of MGM's earlier "Boy's Town" plot-wise in which a snarling little petty thief and liar (played by, who else, Skip Homeier in a repeat of his Nazi brat in "Tomorrow the World") who comes to the ranch and immediately makes problems. His comeuppance and redemption is a foregone conclusion, although many viewing the film were rooting for him to end up in Tascosa's old Boot Hill. James Craig and Dorothy Patrick play the characters of Cal Farley ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Skip jumps in the flash flood to save Hank, he stuffs the package with the money in his shirt before he jumps in the water. When he arrives at Hank's location and gets out of the water, the package is gone. In several scenes following that, a sack appears and disappears and reappears tied to Skip's waist, supposedly the sack with the money. See more »
The parallels between 'Boys' Ranch' and 'Boys Town' are certainly far more than coincidental. Both the Ranch and the Town start out as a new way to take care of the flotsam and jetsam of boys who need guidance and a place to live. Both are riding on the success of the place to secure funding for their continued existence. Both have a strong male authority figure who cares about kids, a bad kid who nearly spoils everything for everyone else, a cute little kid who is supposed to tug at our heartstrings, and in both films the bad kid redeems himself at the end for a happy conclusion to the story.
TCM showed this film and the on-screen rating (with Dish network) gave it only one star out of four. Okay, this is not a great movie, but really - I think 'one star' should be reserved for badly dubbed low budget import films, or the worst of the last of the Bowery Boys, trash like that. This film while far from a masterpiece at least deserves two stars for making an honest effort of it. The parts are played in earnest, the scenes are decently set; it is better than a one-star film.
A few of the young actors stand out for one reason or another. The youngest of these, Butch Jenkins, was a fairly popular child star. Well he sure didn't get that way from his performance in 'Boys Ranch'... you can almost see him reading his lines, his performance is so wooden. Far from 'cute', here he is annoying and nothing else. Darryl Hickman as one of the better boys gave his usual workmanlike performance. The real standout of the cast is Skippy Homeier who went on to a long career playing supporting characters, mostly as bad guys in Westerns. Here he's a rather nasty and cynical kid, the approximate equivalent of Mickey Rooney's "Whitey Marsh" in 'Boys Town'. Near the end of the movie he has a change of heart and soon all ends well. With as large a role in the film as anyone, Homeier takes the prize for best actor. His best moment may be another take on Whitey Marsh, when Skippy (and that is also his name in the film) breaks down and cries when it seems his actions are going to spell an end to the Boys Ranch. He does a good job of that scene and quite to the opposite end of the scale from the "Butch Jenkins" I-am-reading-my-lines performance given by the younger boy who got higher billing. Homeier was the star of this film - period. Was that ad line about a "lovable, thrillable star" referring to Butch Jenkins? They had to be kidding!
In all, this is a wholesome late-40's family movie, admittedly a little duller than it could have been, but still worthy of more than just one star. You could do a hundred times worse by leaving on Sponge Bob.
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