Boys Town (1938)

Boys Town

Boys Town Review

Boys Town is a 1938 biographical drama film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. It was nominated for five Oscars, but is very overrated to me.

It follows Father Edward J. Flanagan and his work with delinquent boys for whom he finds home. Now the story itself is interesting, but it is handled so poorly as the film itself is incredibly boring. This is the kind of film that gathered many awards and praise when it came out and was popular back then, but is now not entertaining, not as good and even dated to some degree. I found the movie incredibly typical and overly sentimental.

Father Flanagan has a couple of fine moments, but still remains a typical, one-note good guy. Whitey Marsh is more interesting, but in the end much more annoying. Yes, the characters in Boys Town are definitely not bad, but they are very annoying, at least they were to me and none of them is particularly likable.

As for the acting, I honestly never understood why the Academy showered Spencer Tracy with so many Oscars. This was his second in a row and he did not deserve it at all. This is his typical role which is an incredibly good-natured, even flawless guy who just wants to help everyone. That is his archetype role and it quickly gets old and frustrating. He is definitely a good actor and he is always good here and has a couple of genuinely great moments, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he just plays the same role over and over again. Mickey Rooney is solid, but overacted a bit at some points which I found frustrating.

Boys Town is not a bad film because the story is still good, no matter how badly handled. It also has solid acting and is visually fine. It is well filmed and shot with a couple of truly great moments. And it is emotional, but it is mostly overly sentimental to the point of being cheesy. I liked some parts here with the ending and a couple of speeches being the highlights, but the film is just too slow to be enjoyed more and is never particularly involving. It definitely has a heart and it means well, but doesn’t distinguish itself from the other biopics of the decade and never has anything inspired about it. Some imagery is memorable here and the movie is well acted and made, but the directing from Norman Taurog should have been better and the movie is incredibly boring for such a short running time. And it is certainly too saccharine. I do not understand its praise and it did not deserve its two Oscars. Spencer Tracy should have been nominated, but should not have won and the script is most certainly not deserving of the award. It is overrated in my honest opinion and time wasn’t kind to it at all.

Boys Town has a heart, means well and is well acted and has its moments, but this is still such an overrated movie that never distinguishes itself from other biopics of the era with a boring story, slow pacing and very annoying characters.

My Rating – 3


Posted in 1930s, 1938, Biopic, Drama, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , .

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