Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney both won Oscars(R) in 1938 for their work in this touching and inspirational story of Father Flanagan and his young, delinquent charges. Year: 1938 Director: Norman Taurog Starring: Spencer ... more »Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull« less
Mary H. (MaryRose) from COLUMBUS, OH Reviewed on 7/27/2010...
I have loved this movie since the very first time I watched it...it is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen...the characters are so real...I can associate myself actually living the episodes that occur...they don't make movies this way anymore...I have looked long and hard to acquire a copy...this one will take a permanent space on my real bookshelf...a MUST SEE movie for all ages!!!
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Wonderfully Moving Story Of Father Flanagan And Boys Town
Simon Davis | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Boys Town", is I believe one of those very special movies that only comes along occasionally in a viewing lifetime. I never fail to be moved and inspired by this wonderful story and by the very special man who is central to this story; Father Edward J. Flanagan, the man who founded Nebraska's famed Boys Town which has given hope and a decent future to countless homeless and abused young boys and girls ever since. MGM here created a perfect story out of this unique man's life and they ended up with a stunning motion picture that has remained a much loved classic ever since. Spencer Tracy will always be remembered for his Academy Award winning portrayal of Father Flanagan and it is he who gives "Boys Town", its lasting appeal with a performance full of honesty, and a belief in the basic decency of all people regardless of religion, age or colour. The films most famous line that "there is no such thing as a bad boy", echoes Father Flanagan's philosophy throughout his life and it creates a lasting impression that has succeeded in touching each new generation of movie goers who have loved this film.
"Boys Town", was planned as one of MGM Studios biggest productions for 1938 and having Spencer Tracy play the famous priest was an inspired piece of casting if ever there was. Tracy actually built up a reputation for his roles as a priest from his earlier work in "San Francisco". It indeed would be hard to find a better marriage of actor and role than we have here with Spencer Tracy and Father Flanagan. Playing the Priest as a caring, warm and endlessly optimistic man Spencer Tracy also injects the character with enough toughness and inner drive to make him a believable person who at times questions his own judgement and inner faith. It really is a masterful performance and stands as one of the pinnacles in Spencer Tracy's legendary career as an actor. Of course as in a major production such as this there is plenty of talent on show in the other major roles. Mickey Rooney really came into his own playing the streetwise tough boy Whitey Marsh who along the way, despite many ups and downs is given a new life full of hope by Father Flanagan. Rooney's often overlooked talent is truly utilised to the fullest here and his transformation to where he becomes Boys Town's Mayor through Father Flanagan's endless concern and care for him despite the troubles he causes is one of Rooney's best performances ever. Henry Hull playing Dave Morris the eternally frustrated offsider to Father Flanagan really does great work here and adds some much appreciated humour in the scenes when he hears about the "latest scheme" being hatched by Father Flanagan that of course he will be dragged into. The scene when he unexpectedly delivers Christmas presents to the boys who are going without even the basics for the festive season is a beautifully realised moment that is one of the most moving in this story. The young actors who make up the boys in the story are also outstanding and high marks in particular go to Gene Reynolds as the crippled boy Tony Ponessa who shares some of the most moving moments in "Boys Town", with Father Flanagan, Frankie Thomas as Boys Town Mayor Freddie Fuller, and perhaps most interesting of all Sidney Miller in a wonderfully played out performance that contains some great humour as jewish boy Mo Kahn. Child actor Bobs Watson of course steals many scenes as Boys Town's youngest resident Pee Wee who is largely responsible through almost tragic circumstances, for Whitey's transformation into a decent individual. Often accused of being overly sentimental "Boys Town", probably is guilty of that at times but I certainly dont see anything wrong with that. Certainly many problems are sorted out perhaps a bit too easily in the script and most of the boys seem to be perhaps at times a bit too nice but they are really not things to take exception to and the fine writing and character development on display make "Boys Town", first class viewing.
Followed a couple of years later with a sequel titled "Men of Boys Town", and featuring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney in their old roles, this 1938 film is still the one to see. In our present hardened society it is easy to pass harsh judgement on a film like "boys Town", however I find that I love this film more and more with each screening and I believe the sentiment works very well in telling this story. The care put into this film by cast and director Norman Taurog is evident in every frame and makes it a heart felt piece of movie story telling. There seem to be no performers like Spencer Tracy nowadays who could bring such feeling to the role of Father Flanagan in my belief. Sentiment, drama, action, and strong characters with a clear intent all combine to help make a viewing of MGM's "Boys Town", a treasured experience you should not miss. Enjoy this classic sometime soon."
A great man Father FlanAgan - even beyond his passing in '48
Bill Ford | Mojave Desert SoCalif | 08/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Keeping this review "short", I am compelled to echo the kind words of previous reviewers. There's much to be said of Boys Town, but it would fill a 1500 page book and still be too short. Father Flanagan died in Germany May 15, 1948. The tears still well up today, more than a half century later. Watching these 1938 and 1941 films is like reliving my childhood all over again. I recall so well the scenes in the movie.... but "I" remember the rooms, the buildings, the birch trees lining the entryway to Boys Town and the wooden stage where Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney) was elected Mayor of Boys Town. Father Flanagan's office (and the rest of the building) where PeeWee got his candy treats became the gradeschool principal's office. I remember it all so well. I relive my childhood with every viewing. Oh yes.... in real life I was there: 1948 - 1953. These two movies are part of me today to share my history with my children and their children.How could I possibly "not" like these great works?Bill Ford - Southern California - August 2003"
GREAT AND WONDERFUL MOVIE
THIERRY | CALIFORNIA | 11/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is one of the all time best movies ever made. The second part Men Of Boys Town is just a great if not more so. Mickey Rooney gives one of his best performances, if not his all time best. This movie really spotlights his great dramitic acting skills as well as his comedy skills. Spencer Tracy was great as Father Flannigan, but Mickey Rooney steals the show. The story is great and the acting as just great. I love the friendship of the little boy Pee Wee and Whitney Marsh(Mickey Rooney). This movie is highly recommended....buy it now!!!"
PRIME TRACY PERFORMANCE.
scotsladdie | 03/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Father Flanagan takes in abandoned boys between the ages of 12 to 18, regardless of race or creed, and fights to raise money, to feed and teach and mother his friendless charges. Mickey Rooney - bless him - runs the gamut of emotions from the tough, poker-playing gangster kid, through the tear-choked, made over youngster, to the final noble youth who becomes mayor of Boys Town. The film manages - in spite of its embarrassing sentimentality of its closing scenes - to be a consistently interesting and frequently touching movie. A burning desire to help his fellowmen and a belief that there is no such thing as a "bad boy" inspired and assisted the Reverend Edward J. Flanagan to found "Boy's Town". Spencer Tracy's sincere portrayal of the role of the priest Father Flanagan was truly an outstanding performance in his career, it even ranks above his Father Tim in SAN FRANCISCO; Tracy simply IS Father Flanagan! As a footnote, in real life, Tracy donated the Oscar he won for his portrayal as Father Flanagan TO Father Flanagan himself; Tracy had it inscribed thusly: "To Father Edward J. Flanagan, whose great human qualities, kindly simplicity and inspiring courage were strong enough to shine through my humble efforts. S/Spencer Tracy"."
MUSIC FAN | LITTLETON, CO. | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I WAS IN A SIMILAR SITUATION AS THIS SHOW [A CATHOLIC ENVIREMENT] AND HAVE SEEN BOTH THIS SHOW AND 'MEN OF BOYS TOWN'. THIS IS THE REASON I GOT THESE SHOW [BOTH ON ONE DVD]. IT IS A GOOD DEAL FOR THE MONEY. ONE OF THE FUNNIEST PARTS WAS WHEN MO MADE WHITEY LOOK LIKE AL JOLSON AND HOW EVERYONE LAUGHED AT HIM DURING THE ROW CALL. GENE REYNOLDS PLAYED TONY PONESSA [ALSO STARRED IN 'THEY SHALL HAVE MUSIC'] WAS PERFECT FOR THE PART. UNLIKE TED MARTLEY [MEN OF BOYS TOWN] WHO CRIED FOR ATTENTION TONY PREFERRED TO DO THING FOR HIMSELF AND NOT DEPEND ON OTHERS FOR ANYTHING. IN SOME WAYS HE AND TED MARTLEY WERE ALIKE. THESE SHOWS SURE TAKES ME BACK TO THOSE DAYS WHEN I WAS RAISED IN A CATHOLIC ORPHANAGE WHERE I SAW BOTH OF THESE SHOWS. "