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Boys Town (1938)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | 9 September 1938 (USA)
When a death row prisoner tells him he wouldn't have led a life of crime if only he had had one friend as a child, Father Edward Flanagan decides to do something about. An advocate of child... See full summary »

Director:

Norman Taurog

Writers:

John Meehan (screenplay), Dore Schary (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Spencer Tracy ... Father Flanagan
Mickey Rooney ... Whitey Marsh
Henry Hull ... Dave Morris
Leslie Fenton ... Dan Farrow
Gene Reynolds ... Tony Ponessa
Edward Norris ... Joe Marsh
Addison Richards ... The Judge
Minor Watson ... The Bishop
Jonathan Hale ... John Hargraves
Bobs Watson ... Pee Wee
Martin Spellman ... Skinny
Mickey Rentschler ... Tommy Anderson
Frankie Thomas ... Freddie Fuller
Jimmy Butler ... Paul Ferguson
Sidney Miller ... Mo Kahn
Edit

Storyline

When a death row prisoner tells him he wouldn't have led a life of crime if only he had had one friend as a child, Father Edward Flanagan decides to do something about. An advocate of child rights and an opponent of the severe approach to juvenile delinquency at the time, Flanagan genuinely believed that there is no such thing as a bad boy. Starting with just a few boys in a rented house, Father Flanagan eventually establishes Boys Town on 200 acres of land 10 miles outside of Omaha, Nebraska. Much of the film focuses on Flanagan's attempts to influence one boy, Whitey Marsh, who will become a hoodlum if he doesn't change his ways. When Whitey is implicated in a bank robbery, it puts all of Boys Town at risk. Throughout it all Flanagan has to fight prejudice in those who believe delinquents should just be locked up and the never ending shortage of money to accomplish his goals. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The life story of a boy who was "born to be hung"! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew

Release Date:

9 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Boys' Town See more »

Filming Locations:

Boys Town, Nebraska, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Actor Don 'Red' Barry was spotted at a UCLA game with a Texas All-Star team. Mickey Rooney attended the game with John Wayne. Even though his team lost 21-14, Barry impressed the two actors, who offered to open doors for him if he wanted a film career. Rooney got him a job on this film, but Barry kept blowing the scene with Spencer Tracy' he had been assigned and was replaced. See more »

Goofs

The blackface Whitey wipes off in line doesn't match when he arrives back at the barber. See more »

Quotes

Father Edward J. Flanagan: I know that a mother can take a whip to the toughest boy in the world, and he forgets it because he knows that she loves him.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Home and Away: Episode #1.591 (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung offscreen in prison by an unidentified prisoner
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Giving the kids a break
31 October 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Boys Town is not the actual story of the founding of the famous orphanage in Nebraska for homeless male youth. True some of the problems that Father Edward J. Flanagan had in making his dream come true are dealt with here. But about a third of the way through the story line changes and it deals with the problems of one of the youths Boys Town takes in.

The youth is Mickey Rooney and Father Flanagan is played by Spencer Tracy. They are some contrast in acting styles. It's a tribute to Director Norman Taurog in that he was able to reign in Rooney, who's performance some times goes a little over the top.

Tracy however beautifully underplays against Rooney. San Francisco two years before was a milestone film for Tracy. Previous to San Francisco, Tracy had played mostly roughewn types on either side of the law. No pun intended, but as the priest there, Spencer Tracy became the wise paternal figure so beloved in so many films.

There's a lot of Father Tim Mullin continued on in Tracy's Father Flanagan. No new ground was broken, but the ground was carefully cultivated by Tracy in Boys Town, earning him a second Oscar in a row. That Oscar resides at Girls and Boys Town today, the place did go co-ed in the Seventies.

Tracy was under a lot of pressure in this part because Father Flanagan was still alive. Rumor hath it that he enjoyed Tracy's portrayal very much.

Well if my life story was ever important enough to bring to the screen, I couldn't ask for anyone better than Spencer Tracy to play me.


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