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Boys Town

4.8 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull

Special Features

  • Bonus movie sequel: Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney in Men of Boys Town (1941)
  • Vintage featurette: The City of Little men
  • Good News of 1939 readio show excerpt with Tracy and Rooney
  • Girls and Boys Town promotional featurette
  • Theatrical trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, Henry Hull, Leslie Fenton, Gene Reynolds
  • Directors: Norman Taurog
  • Writers: Dore Schary, Eleanore Griffin, Jack Mintz, James Kevin McGuinness, John Meehan
  • Producers: John W. Considine Jr.
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 199 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B5XOYS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,863 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Boys Town" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
"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.
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Format: VHS Tape
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
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By A Customer on March 30, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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".
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I recently showed this movie to my 15-year old religion students and was astounded at how invested they were in the story. My sophisticated guys from the smart-phone generation were so moved and gradually drawn in by the story that they started reacting vocally to the action on screen. The story's simple values of love and redemption touched them on a deeper level than an iPhone app.

And "Boys Town" is the sort of old B&W Hollywood Catholicism, like "On the Waterfront" or "The Song of Bernadette," that simply glows with life on the screen regardless of the passage of time. Based on the true story of Father Edward Flanagan's founding of "Boys Town" for homeless and unwanted children in 1917 Nebraska, the movie won Academy Awards for its story and for Best Actor (Spencer Tracy as Flanagan) in 1938, when the real Father Flanagan was still alive to see it. But it still holds up well today as a timeless story of undisciplined boyhood getting refined by the love of one's fellow man. Its depiction of struggling children in an economically depressed United States (1917 in the film, 1938 when it was made) feels particularly topical in a post-Occupy Wall Street world.

The film contains great child acting (particularly Mickey Rooney as a troubled youth at the story's center) in addition to the strikingly compassionate performance by Spencer Tracy, who is so natural in this Oscar-winning role that he does not appear to be acting. Although he's playing a larger-than-life Catholic priest, Tracy's character is so subtle and understated (his eyes do much of the acting at times) that his few moments of action carry tremendous power, revealing a deeply rooted determination and dedication in Father Flanagan.
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