Boys Town (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

Boys Town (1938)

TOMATOMETER

——

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Boys Town Videos

Boys Town Photos

Movie Info

This film focuses on Father Edward J. Flanagan, whose philosophy that no boy will grow up bad if given a chance in life culminates in his formation of Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. Unable to raise funds through "proper" channels, Flannagan finds that his staunchest supporters are the workaday folks.
Rating:
G
Genre:
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM Home Entertainment

Watch it now

Cast

Spencer Tracy
as Father Edward Flanagan
Mickey Rooney
as Whitey Marsh
Henry Hull
as Dave Morris
Leslie Fenton
as Dan Farrow
Edward Norris
as Joe Marsh
Gene Reynolds
as Tony Ponessa
Minor Watson
as Bishop
Jonathan Hale
as John Hargraves
Bobs Watson
as Pee Wee
Mickey Rentschler
as Tommy Anderson
Frankie Thomas
as Freddie Fuller
Jimmy Butler
as Paul Ferguson
Sidney Miller
as Mo Kahn
Victor Kilian
as Sheriff
John Hamilton
as Warden
Barbara Bedford
as Catholic Sister
Roger Converse
as Newspaper Reporter Lane
Donald Haines
as Alabama
George Humbert
as Calateri
Gladden James
as Doctor
Jay Novello
as Gangster
Kane Richmond
as Newspaper Reporter Jackson
Phillip Terry
as Newspaper Reporter
Al Hill
as Apples
Johnny Walsh
as Charley Haines
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Boys Town

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (2)

Tracy, showing necessary restraint, makes his portrayal of Flanagan sincere and human.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

Mickey Rooney is a hard case, but eventually he cracks -- as will you, under the relentless, flat sentimentality of Norman Taurog's direction.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

One of the more overrated films of its era.

Full Review… | February 10, 2012
TV Guide

There's only one Christmas scene, but the movie's sentimental mood makes for nice holiday viewing.

Full Review… | December 25, 2009
Combustible Celluloid

A dated but entertaining tale of friendship

August 9, 2007
Film Threat

a watershed film that discusses an important societal development

November 12, 2005
Filmcritic.com

Audience Reviews for Boys Town

½

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.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Boys Town Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss Boys Town on our Movie forum!

News & Features