Boys Town (1938)

boystown

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull

Director: Norman Taurog (THAT MOTHERF)

Summary: True story of Father Flanagan’s fight to build a home for orphaned boys

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Tracy)*, Story*, Screenplay

Positives

-Spencer Tracy is very good as Father Flanagan and imbues the character with the kindness and fundamental decency the role calls for. This is the kind of role Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart played a lot in their primes, and I think Tracy should have been put alongside them after his turn here.

-Sweet and heartwarming without going too far into syrupy territory for the most part. The majority of the movie is a simple and effective story about faith in your fellow man (or boy) and the goodness in all of us

Negatives

-The movie takes a hard and unexpected turn in tone and style towards the end and I don’t think it worked very well. There are obvious ways to ratchet up the stakes in a movie like this, but I didn’t expect them to go in such an overdramatic direction

-I really didn’t like Mickey Rooney’s performance in the movie, he was way over-the-top in every scene. I think that some of it may have been the way the character was written, but he took every opportunity to ratchet up the annoying bratishness of his character to the maximum.

Overall

Solid heartwarming family movie that is hurt by a sudden shift in style and tone in the last 30 minutes or so of the film that doesn’t feel in place with the rest of the movie

Rating: C

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