7.3/10
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48 user 21 critic

Boys Town (1938)

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
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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 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 greatest heart drama of the year. 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

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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

Unfortunately, due to revelations about the historical abuse of children under the care of the Roman Catholic church worldwide, this film has acquired a dark undercurrent it was never originally intended to have. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Freddie Fuller: There's our baseball field... last year one of our players was drafted by the St. Louis Browns.
Whitey Marsh: Well, I like the Yankees.
Freddie Fuller: You would!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

My Mammy
(1921) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
Title Sung a cappella by Mickey Rooney
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Old-Fashioned Feel-Good Film
11 March 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This is a pretty famous movie, one of those old-fashioned feel-good films that bring a tear or two to the eye of the sensitive individual.

It's very dated, yes, but part of that "dated" means mostly nice kids, not brats and more nice role models, instead of extremely-flawed heroes. It seems, as film fans, we normally got one of the extremes thrown at us: overly good or overly bad. This is overly good.....but I'm fine with that.

Mickey Rooney really livens the film up with his appearance. He and most of the characters represent an America that is long gone, people and ideas that are way too "corny" for today's audience. Sometimes it's sappy but sometimes it's refreshing to see, too.

The "bad" kids in this film seem pretty nice and tame to today's bad kids, believe me. "There are no bad boys," as Father Flanagan put it, and one would wonder if that still applied today. Flanagan is nicely portrayed by Spencer Tracy. The priest is shown to be one who had a real heart for wayward boys.

Spencer and Rooney are the obvious stars of this sentimental story but little "Pee Wee," played by Bobs Watson, is the most endearing character in the movie.

Corny but a remembrance of a much more innocent America.


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