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They Gave Him a Gun (1937)

Jimmy is drafted and ends up in Fred's troop on his way to Europe. Jimmy becomes vicious with his gun, wins a medal, and weds Fred's nurse girlfriend, Rose. Back home years later, Rose ... See full summary »

Director:

W.S. Van Dyke (as W.S. Van Dyke II)

Writers:

William J. Cowen (book) (as William Joyce Cowen), Cyril Hume | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Spencer Tracy ... Fred P. Willis
Gladys George ... Rose Duffy
Franchot Tone ... James 'Jimmy' Davis
Edgar Dearing ... Sgt. Meadowlark
Mary Treen ... Saxe (as Mary Lou Treen)
Cliff Edwards ... Laro
Charles Trowbridge ... Judge
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Storyline

Jimmy is drafted and ends up in Fred's troop on his way to Europe. Jimmy becomes vicious with his gun, wins a medal, and weds Fred's nurse girlfriend, Rose. Back home years later, Rose discovers Jimmy is a gangster, has him arrested, and finds a job in Fred's circus as Jimmy escapes, determined to kill Fred. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 May 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

On lui donna un fusil See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opening scenes showed a factory manufacturing rifles. They looked like 1903 Springfields'. See more »

Goofs

(at around 33 mins) As Saxe hands Rose a list of casualties with Fred on it, in the very next scene the list magically has disappeared from her hands. See more »

Quotes

Fred P. Willis: Don't you know us guys has gotta make the world safe for the Democrats? Now, personally, my only regret is that I got a life to lay down for my country. But will us dead have died in vain? Be yourself! Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! Fifty-four Forty or fight! Don't give up the ship until you see the whites of their eyes! Are we gonna stand for taxation without the pursuit of happiness? E pluribus unum! Hats off! Lafayette, we are here!
[whistles]
See more »

Soundtracks

There Are Smiles
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Played when the carnival comes to town
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hero And Killer
2 December 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Sandwiched in between San Francisco and Captains Courageous two of Spencer Tracy's greatest parts is this very curious film about war and the effects it has on some people. They Gave Him A Gun stars Spencer Tracy and Franchot Tone in the only film they ever made together and Gladys George as the woman who loves them both.

Tracy and Tone are a couple of World War I draftees, Tone is a weak character who almost goes over the hill in boot camp, but Tracy stops him. Tracy is still playing the lovable blowhard, younger Wallace Beery type that MGM envisioned for him when they signed him away from Fox.

Over at the front Tone gets an opportunity and takes it when during a fight he manages to get to a church tower that peers down on a German machine gun nest. He's learned to shoot by now and he does a Sergeant York. But Alvin C. York was never changed by the war the way Tone has.

Wounded in the fight Tone convalesces at a hospital with Gladys George looking out for him. Tracy goes AWOL himself to visit his pal and he and George get something going. Later on when Tracy is reported missing in action, Tone and George marry. Tracy's brokenhearted when he comes back and learns of the marriage, but takes sit in stride.

The rest of the film is dealing with Tone applying the the wartime skills he's learned to the gangster trade. He's a hit-man now and George doesn't really know what he does for a living. I think you can figure the rest out.

The part of the film that gave me some trouble is that I can't believe Gladys George couldn't figure it out. She's a street smart girl, her part is very much like the one she played in The Roaring Twenties opposite James Cagney.

Speaking of The Roaring Twenties, Humphrey Bogart's character development there is similar to Tone's although he was not the central character of the movie. In fact there are elements of They Gave Him A Gun that are to be found in Taxi Driver and in Clint Eastwood's classic, The Unforgiven.

The World War I battle sequences are very well staged by director Woody Van Dyke. For some reason Leonard Maltin panned this film, I think it's a lot better than he gave it credit.


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