- Boys Town (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Norman Taurog Produced by John W. Considine Jr. Written by Dore Schary
Starring Spencer Tracy
Music by Edward Ward Cinematography Sidney Wagner Editing by Elmo Veron Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Release date(s) 9 September 1938 Running time 96 minutes Country United States Language English
Boys Town is a 1938 biographical drama film based on Father Edward J. Flanagan's work with a group of disadvantaged and delinquent boys in a home that he founded and named "Boys Town". It stars Spencer Tracy as Father Edward J. Flanagan, and Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull, Gene Reynolds, Edward Norris, and Addison Richards.
Legendary MGM Studio head Louis B. Mayer, who was a Ukrainian-American Jew, and known privately for his deep reservations regarding the Catholic Church, later called this his favorite film of his tenure at MGM.
Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy) believes there is no such thing as a bad boy and spends his life attempting to prove it. He battles indifference, the legal system, and often the boys themselves, to build a sanctuary which he calls Boys Town. The boys have their own government, make their own rules, and dish out their own punishment. One boy, Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney) is as much as anyone can handle. His brother is in prison for murder, and Whitey himself is a poolroom shark and sometimes a hoodlum. Father Flanagan takes him to Boys Town. Whitey runs away three times, the third time because he hears his brother has escaped. Whitey joins his brother, but Father Flanagan rescues Whitey and helps capture the gang in the act of robbery. Whitey and Father Flanagan return to Boys Town.
- Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan
- Mickey Rooney as Whitey Marsh
- Henry Hull as Dave Morris
- Leslie Fenton as Dan Farrow
- Gene Reynolds as Tony Ponessa
- Edward Norris as Joe Marsh
- Addison Richards as The Judge
- Minor Watson as The Bishop
- Jonathan Hale as John Hargraves
- Bobs Watson as Pee Wee
- Martin Spellman as Skinny
- Mickey Rentschler as Tommy Anderson
- Frankie Thomas as Freddie Fuller
- Jimmy Butler as Paul Ferguson
- Sidney Miller as Mo Kahn
- Janet Beecher as Mrs. Graves
Award Result Winner Outstanding Production Nominated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (John W. Considine, Jr, Producer)
Winner was Frank Capra (Columbia) - You Can't Take It With You
Best Director Nominated Norman Taurog
Winner was Frank Capra - You Can't Take It With You
Best Actor Won Spencer Tracy Best Writing, Screenplay Nominated John Meehan and Dore Schary
Winner was Ian Dalrymple, Cecil Arthur Lewis, W. P. Lipscomb, George Bernard Shaw - Pygmalion
Best Writing, Original Story Won Eleanore Griffin and Dore Schary
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 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 without confirming it with Tracy. Tracy's response was: "I earned the damn 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."
Home video releases
Boys Town was released on VHS by MGM on March 29, 1993 and re-released on VHS on March 7, 2000. On November 8, 2005, it was released on DVD as a part of the "Warner Brothers Classic Holiday Collection", a 3-DVD set which also contains Christmas in Connecticut and the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol, and as an individual disc. The DVD release also includes the 1941 sequel "Men of Boys Town" as an extra feature.
Sequel: Men of Boys Town
Released in April 1941, Men of Boys Town takes a darker tone to the plight of homeless and troubled youth. Tracy and Rooney reprise their characters as Father Flanagan and Whitey Marsh as they expose the conditions in a boys reform school. This movie was released on VHS on December 23, 1993, but is now available only as an extra feature on Boys Town's DVD.
Mr. and Mrs. Maitland, a childless couple, invite Whitey to their home on a trial basis. Whitey tries to visit a friend in reform school and inmate Flip is hiding in car as Whitey leaves. Flip steals money and both boys go to reform school. (This is where the movie takes a darker tone as it depicts the physical abuse the boys suffer during their detention at the facility.) Father Flanagan exposes the conditions in the school and the boys are released to him. The Maitlands work to pay off the debts threatening Boys Town.
- Official website
- Boys Town at the Internet Movie Database
- Boys Town at AllRovi
- Boys Town at the TCM Movie Database
- Boys Town at Rotten Tomatoes
The films of Norman Taurog 1920sLucky Boy • The Diplomats • In Holland • The Medicine Men 1930sTroopers Three (with B. Reeves Eason) • Sunny Skies • Hot Curves • Follow the Leader • Finn and Hattie • Skippy • Newly Rich • Huckleberry Finn • Sooky • Hold 'Em Jail • The Phantom President • If I Had a Million (segments "Prologue" and "Epilogue") • A Bedtime Story • The Way to Love • We're Not Dressing • Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch • College Rhythm • The Big Broadcast of 1936 • Strike Me Pink • Rhythm on the Range • Reunion • Fifty Roads to Town • You Can't Have Everything • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer • Mad About Music • Boys Town • The Girl Downstairs • Lucky Night 1940sBroadway Melody of 1940 • Young Tom Edison • Little Nellie Kelly • Men of Boys Town • Design for Scandal • Are Husbands Necessary? • A Yank at Eton • Presenting Lily Mars • Girl Crazy (with Busby Berkley) • The Hoodlum Saint • The Beginning or the End • The Bride Goes Wild • Big City • Words and Music • That Midnight Kiss 1950sPlease Believe Me • The Toast of New Orleans • Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone • Rich, Young and Pretty • Room for One More • Jumping Jacks • The Stooge • The Stars Are Singing • The Caddy • Living It Up • You're Never Too Young • The Birds and the Bees • Pardners • Bundle of Joy • The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown • Onionhead • Don't Give Up the Ship 1960s TelevisionLight's Diamond Jubilee (1954) (with )
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