Boys Town

Synopsis: Against all odds Father Flanagan starts "Boys' Town" after hearing a convict's story. Whitey Marsh comes there. He runs away but, hungry, returns. He runs away again but, when friend Pee Wee is hit by a car, returns. He runs away and joins his brother's gang. Flanagan and the boys capture the crooks and the reward saves the town.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Norman Taurog
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Won 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

Well, my lad,

they tell me you want to confess.


That will help the jury.

They convicted you on circumstantial

evidence. Understand?

Yeah, sure.

Public opinion. Clear that up, too.

Justice itself will feel easier.

I'm doing it because I'm scared.

It may help the big rap

when I go through that last door.

You might as well do a real job.

I have a couple of newspapermen here,

and the judge who sentenced you...

Shut that up, will you?

Can't you stop that singing?

Now, now. It's his turn next.

You confess, he sings.


- Bring on your gang.

- Good.

- Can I do anything for you, Dan?

- Yeah, how about a drink?



- Do you want to see Father Flanagan?

- Sure.

I asked for him. He knew me when.

How much time have I got?

Eternity begins in 45 minutes, Dan.

What happens when that door

slams shut behind you?

- A bad minute or two.

- Yeah, I know. After that?

Dan, that's been a mystery

for a million years.

You can't expect to crack that

in a few seconds.

- Would you be afraid to die?

- No.

Why not, if you don't know what happens?

Well, I've made mistakes, Dan,

but I've always been sorry for them.

I try to make up for them.

If you killed a rat,

and it was coming to him...

could you find some way

to be sorry for that?

Dan, life and death should be left

to the Creator of life and death.

Please stay, will you?

How are you, Judge?

This is Lane Wellington. His column fought

for you. Didn't think you were guilty.

Sorry to let you down, pal.

If you'd stuck to your guns,

I'd have kept you alive for years.

I wouldn't try to be funny, if I were you.

This man wants to admit

his debt to the State.

What's that? My debt to the State?

If you'd have done this sooner,

the debt wouldn't be so big.

Is that what this is all about?

You're going to take my life,

because I owe the State something?

When I was a kid, 12 years old,

my mother died.

Did I go on the cuff to the State

for the gutters I slept in? Is that it?

That's just sniveling. The State reached

its arms out for three years...

Yeah, in the reformatory.

When I went in,

copping a loaf of bread was a job.

- When I come out, I could rob a bank!

- Holy cats!

Get this, big shots.

I'm going out that way in a few minutes.

So you're getting the lowdown.

Where was the State when a Ionely,

starving kid cried himself to sleep...

in a flophouse with a bunch of drunks,

tramps, and hoboes?

Is that when this debt started?

The only pals I had a chance at

were the kids in the alley.

I had to be tough to string along.

Just before we got out

of the State's arms...

the reformatory, we made up a gang,

six of us, and pals.

We bet our lives across the board,

and let them ride. Crooks!

Sure! Your mouths pop open at that one.

Greek to you wise guys, ain't it?

One of them turned rat for State's

evidence, and I killed him. But get this.

One friend when I'm 12 years old...

and I don't stand here like this!

Now, go on, get out of here...

you bunch of mush-brained saps! Get out!

Listen, Father. I am sorry for my mistakes.

I am sorry.

12 years old. One friend.

Starving kid. Never had a chance.


Break your mugs.

Steal our food, will you?

Get in your own streets, you mugs!

Here. Tommy, stop it.

Come on, Tommy. Stop it.

Tommy, stop it!


Loafers! Police!

- Good morning, Dave.

- Good morning.

- Look, $80 smashed.

- It's a shame, Dave.

Father Eddie, that place of yours

draws the rats around.

- It's like molasses and flies.

- I suppose it does.

I sleep beside a machine gun,

while you rock-a-bye-baby the 40 thieves.

Read all about it!

Dan Farrow electrocuted!

Read all about it!

Where's His Reverend?

Don't we get a sermon this morning?

Hear ye, my friends.

Scoff your coffee while ye may,

turn up your toes...

call it a day.

I didn't start this place

to give you men a laugh. I really didn't.

I thought I could help you.

- Sorry, Father Flanagan.

- We apologize.

Thanks for the coffee.

We all love you, dominie, every one of us.

Well, you can pass the word

along the road...

that somebody else will be running

the place pretty shortly. I'm leaving.

- But, Father...

- Weasel, you're too smart.

No, I had decided before.

I spent last night, or rather this morning,

with Dan Farrow just before he...

It was too late to do very much for him...

and I guess it's too late

to do very much for you.

I'm afraid you're satisfied with something

to eat and a place to sleep.

Father Flanagan!

- What is it, Skinny?

- They got Jimmy!

The cops got Jimmy!

Please tell them to let him go.

He's my brother.

- Who else have they got?

- They got Tommy and they got Steve.

And they told me to go home.

Yeah, home.

Where's your mother, Skinny?

Come on. We'll see what we can do.

Mr. Morris, do you know

who broke your window?

- Yes, Your Honor.

- Pardon me, but does it really matter?

It was a free-for-all.

Any one of them could have done it.

What do you mean, Father?

Not to obstruct justice, even if I could,

but one boy threw that stone...

did this special damage.

But he didn't mean to do it.

They were all throwing things.

They were all excited.

I'm trying to reduce it to a definite charge.

That's what I was afraid of, Your Honor.

- None of us want to abuse children.

- But we do, nevertheless.

The business of the court is to take care

of the honest citizen.

You. I have a high regard for you, but...

Your Honor, these boys were arrested

this morning.

It's now... It's 3:30.

Has anybody come forward

to say one good word for them?

Father, mother, uncle, sister. Anybody?

Well, you're saying quite a few.

And I'll go on, until you take back

the privilege you granted me.

You heard Mr. Calatieri.

- May I question him?

- Certainly.

- Sit down, Mr. Morris.

- Thank you.

Mr. Calatieri.

Yes, Father?

Tommy, stand up.

- Tommy came in to buy some salami.

- Yes.

I wrap my salami. I put him down.

He say, "Half a dozen eggs."

I turn around to get the eggs,

I come back, where is my salami?

No salami and no Tommy.

But you didn't really see Tommy

steal the salami, did you?

My nice, fresh salami. She no walk away.

And the police found the salami,

and some bread, some other things.

There's no doubt about their being stolen.

There's also no doubt that these boys

should be taken off the streets...

- for their own good.

- And sent to the reformatory.

I'm wondering if you want to do that

to a homeless boy...

- just on circumstantial evidence.

- Well, what do you want me to do?

There's the salami,

and there's Mr. Calatieri.

They can have my salami.

I give it to them, free for present.

But next time, please, not the imported.

- There won't be any next time.

- You should have studied law, Father.

Thank you, Your Honor.

Well, I guess that's...

Unless my good friend wants to identify

the boy who threw the rock.

My window was smashed.

$80 gone to someplace...

But I...

Well, I can't say who did it, positively.

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John Meehan

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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