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Boys Town (1938)

Passed | | Biography, Drama | 9 September 1938 (USA)
Trailer
3:12 | Trailer
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 start a home for young boys.

Director:

Norman Taurog

Writers:

John Meehan (screenplay), Dore Schary (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
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
Learn more

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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 take action. An advocate of child rights and an opponent of the severe approach to juvenile delinquency at the time, Flanagan genuinely believes 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is rumored to be an alternative version of the Spencer Tracy Oscar story: "In February 1939, when he accepted his Oscar for the role, Spencer Tracy responded graciously by spending all of his acceptance speech talking about [Father Edward Flanagan]. 'If you have seen him through me, then I thank you'." An overzealous MGM publicity representative announced that Tracy was donating his Oscar to Flanagan, but did not confer with Tracy about it. Tracy's response was: "I earned the [*beep*] thing. I want it." The Academy hastily struck another inscription, Tracy kept his statuette, and Boys Town got one, too. It read: "To Father Flanagan, whose great humanity, kindly simplicity, and inspiring courage were strong enough to shine through my humble effort. Spencer Tracy."" 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: There is no such thing as a bad boy.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: Like Oh, Brother (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Sue, Just You
(1928) (uncredited)
Music by Victor Young
Played by a Marching Band
Reprised by a Band at the election rally
See more »

User Reviews

A fine story of one man's love for the forlorn and another's discovery of humility
21 March 2001 | by shankar_kSee all my reviews

A classic tale of one man's belief in the inherent goodness in every human being. Spencer Tracey, in one of his finest performances, essays the role of Father Flanagan who, in spite of mounting pressure from society, champions the cause of juvenile delinquents and gives them a shelter and some much-needed care. But the order in Boys Town is marred by the reluctant entry of Whitey Marsh (played effortlessly by Mickey Rooney), a cocky street-smart urchin who loathes having to adjust his ways to suit the others. However, as the events unwind, Whitey slowly starts loving Boys Town so much so that he stakes his life for it. What impressed me about the movie most was the brilliant performance from Spencer Tracey - a delicate balance of charm, wit, care and enormous willpower.


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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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