• G, 1 hr. 36 min.
  • Drama, Classics
  • Directed By:
    Norman Taurog
    In Theaters:
    Sep 9, 1938 Wide
    On DVD:
    Nov 8, 2005
  • MGM Home Entertainment

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Boys Town Reviews

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AJ V

Super Reviewer

October 14, 2010
A cute, sentimental movie, which you can't help but like. Tracy is fantastic as Father Flanagan, and that cute kid who plays pee-wee is priceless. Sometimes it was a bit too much sentimentality for me, but if you love true life dramas, you will like this movie.
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

July 19, 2010
Spencer Tracy plays Father Flanagan, the creator of Boys Town, in this sentimental film from 1938. Flanagan believed in the motto "There's no such thing as a bad boy" and made it his life's mission to help reform boys who'd been abandoned to the streets or to the various other state institutions (which were so effective at creating better criminals). After being inspired by a death row convict who claimed if he'd had just one friend looking out for him when he was twelve, his life would've been different, Father Flanagan abandoned his soup kitchen and decided to focus on helping young boys instead. Things go great the first few years, that is, until trouble arrives in the form of Whitey Marsh (Mickey Rooney), a street tough who's gangster brother pays to have accepted into the town. Whitey doesn't fit in and apparently doesnt' want to either, putting on a big, tough guy act to try and bully the other kids. It doesnt' work, of course, as most of the kids come from bacgrounds just as tough, if not tougher than him. Mickey Rooney is one of those child actors who is basically a fully formed performer right from the start, and his performance as Whitey Marsh wouldn't be significantly different if delivered as an adult. Spencer Tracy is subtle and understated, perhaps more understated than in any other role in his career, and it's little surprise he won the oscar. The weepiness of Rooney and "Peewee" (Bobs Watson) can be a little comical at times, but kids tend to be very emotional, and I think the performances are appropriate for the characters. A nice little movie.
flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

January 18, 2009
An endearing and lovable film in spite of the fact that it practically drips sap. The sentimentality is so thick at times that it almost seems to parody itself. A schmaltzy classic.
Bill D 2007
Bill D 2007

Super Reviewer

July 29, 2009
Continuing my study of the Oscar-nominated films of 1938, we move to "Boys Town," which I found engaging but not inspiring. The film is a depiction of the real-life Boys Town, which was a hugely successful orphanage for boys founded in the 1920s by a Catholic priest.

Spencer Tracy won his second Oscar for his portrayal of the priest, Father Flanagan. Mickey Rooney, playing one of the most troubled boys at the facility, nearly sinks the picture with his ridiculous overacting. Luckily though, the other teenage actors are superb, especially Gene Reynolds, playing a boy with a disability who becomes mayor of the institution.

The film confirms my view that 1938 was a mediocre year for American film. It amazes me that "Boys Town" received so many Oscar nominations. In addition to Best Picture and Best Actor, the film received nods for Best Director (Norman Taurog) and Best Original Story. Taurog, who would in later years direct many of Elvis Presley's films, was named Best Director only once, in 1930 for "Skippy," another film starring a child actor (Jackie Cooper).
Byron B

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2007
A message movie about a priest who provides direction to troubled boys without homes. Sentimental now. It seems unreal that this was a sort of snapshot of gang activity. It was probably cleaned up and hence why some think there were more "innocent" times. Mickey Rooney, who also appeared in Captains Courageous, is the boy that is the most difficult to reach. He runs away multiple times. Spencer Tracy gives another great performance without going to the extreme of mawkishness.
John B

Super Reviewer

September 22, 2007
A cute little film. I like early Mickey Rooney films and Spencer Tracy is a fabulous father figure. A nice diversion for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
September 13, 2008
Boys Town (1938) -- [8.0] -- Spencer Tracy won his second Academy Award for his portrayal of Father Flanagan, a man who firmly believed "there are no bad boys." In the movie and in real life, Flanagan built an educational refuge for homeless and delinquent boys to prove his theory, and the facility still operates today. Mickey Rooney plays the toughest of Flanagan's kids, a boy whose defiance and criminal connections almost cause Boys Town to be shut down. I love the film's climax, when Flanagan and all the older boys storm a bank robber's hideout in a last ditch effort to save the institution's good name. I know "Boys Town" is sentimental and maybe even a tad bit ingratiating, but I guess I have a soft spot for stories about children forced to take care of themselves. "Boys Town" is a genuine feel good movie about having faith in your fellow man and making the best of what you have. And as far as great heroes of the movies go, I'd put Flanagan right up there with Atticus Finch.
June 1, 2013
Father Flanagan takes care of the boys in Boys Town. This was a good movie, but I will probably not see it again.
April 10, 2012
light and fluffy drama--can't say I much cared for it. Spencer Tracy gives a great performance, but when the focus shifts from him to Mickey Rooney, I quickly lose interest. I would have loved more development of boys town and a more in-depth look at Father Flanagan. instead, we get a pretty glossed-over history and a really hammy "bad boy turned good" story that's about as cookie-cutter as they come. there are some strong points to this movie, and it certainly leaves you with a good feeling inside, but as well-made movies go, there are easily much better.
June 7, 2011
The performances by Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan & Mickey Rooney are quite standout it this Memorable Film
December 23, 2010
Tons of love, warmth, and humanity. Tracy and especially Rooney, give this picture a wonderful sense of relevance.
March 9, 2010
Okay, this movie made me cry. Sure it just throws sentiment in your face willy-ass-nilly and the heartstrings rarely get a break. But Spencer Tracy, and especially Mickey Rooney, were great to watch and it made for another great classic feel-good evening.
jam233
August 1, 2009
This very loved classic is definitely a good film, but never quite thought of it to be among the best of the classics. It is so overly sentimental, and Mickey Rooney is just too extreme in his role. Spencer Tracy is excellent however. Good but a bit sappy.
February 28, 2008
These are the exact kinds of movies they don't make anymore: warm-hearted, tales of wisdom with a strong leading performance by an actor like Spencer Tracy. Void of any cynicism. Where some may call it naive I call it touching. The sentiment isn't forced. To find out this was based on a true story it only makes the film that much more special. Mickey Rooney was excellent as well.
December 26, 2007
there is no such thing as a bad boy. good movie especially when my ancestors has something to do building boys town
fallendarkangel1306
November 27, 2007
Based on real-life events, Boys Town is the story of Father Flanagan (Spencer Tracy), a kind-hearted man with a just soul who believes that there is no such thing as a 'bad boy.' He opens a home for orphaned boys, giving them the tools and the means to lead better lives. When a troubled youth (Mickey Rooney) enters Flanagan's care at Boys Town, the man becomes determined to help the boy turn his life around, while fighting a continuous financial battle to keep the land the boys' home is built upon. Spencer Tracy won an Academy Award for his role in this film. Mickey Rooney proved once again to be a wonderfully versatile actor - he stole every scene he was in.
August 26, 2007
Mickey Rooney is right there in my top 5 coming in at 3rd place after Gene! He was/is a wonderful actor!
Ida K

Super Reviewer

August 18, 2007
This classic is a true story. The dialogue is a little hokey but not too bad considering this was made in 1938!
December 20, 2006
Wow. Okay, this was revered and got Spencer Tracy an Oscar... *he* certainly deserved it, but the rest of the movie was over-the-top, entirely unbelievable, and actually had me giggling during some parts that were clearly supposed to be serious. I was impressed Tracy did as well as he did with it, given the fact that he had lines such as, "It was a sad, bad day when you came to us. Yes, indeed." The first half of the movie was fairly interesting, but then it just became silly and sentimental without feeling at all like the characters were someone I could care about. It wasn't actually PAINFUL to watch, but it certainly wasn't worth it. Too bad, because with a cast like this and a possible good plotline, it should've been much better.
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