Boys Town (1938)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Message Movie  |   Release Date - Sep 8, 1938 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Boys Town features a sympathetic fact-based story and sincere performances from stars Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, who keep the film's tone just this side of maudlin. Veteran child-star director Norman Taurog ably handles his teenage charges, knowing precisely when to call for a close-up. Boys Town isn't without its moments of tear-jerking sentimentality, but Taurog keeps them at bay so that the story's pace won't falter. Tracy was supposedly so moved on winning his second Best Actor Oscar for the role that he gave the award to the real-life Father Flanagan; in actuality, an MGM publicist orchestrated the gesture. Ironically, the real Father Flanagan had been critical of the film, arguing that it made Boys Town look so prosperous that people would forget that it depended on charitable donations.