For Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s Favorite Code Film Blogathon, I reflected on all of the Breen Code era movies that I’ve seen and/or reviewed since starting 18 Cinema Lane a year ago. One film, that I watched back in May, that left a good impression on me was 1938’s Boys Town. Before 2019, I had never even heard of this movie. But I’m glad I gave the film a chance, as I thoroughly enjoyed it! Boys Town had the components that I look for in a movie; a good story with likable characters. It’s also based on a real-life person as well as a real-life non-profit organization. This is a film that I think people should give a chance. To explain why, I created a list of reasons to support my opinion. One of my goals for this blog is to encourage others to watch films that they may not have seen before. So, if this post accomplishes that goal, I would feel like I helped someone out.
Fantastic Acting Performances
When I review a film, one of the first things I talk about is the acting. This is because the acting performances are one of the first things you see in a movie. In Boys Town, the actors in this cast gave fantastic acting performances! One of the most notable is Mickey Rooney’s performance as Whitey Marsh. Over the course of the story, Whitey evolves from a self-centered youngster to one of Boys Town’s biggest supporters. Mickey’s portrayal of this character helped make this evolution believable. In fact, this is one of the best performances that Mickey has ever given in his career! That’s not the only acting performance that impressed me. Spencer Tracy’s portrayal of Father Flanagan is consistent in not only Boys Town, but also in the sequel, Men of Boys Town. With the right amount of emotionality, Spencer made his character a likable individual. Father Flanagan was stern when he needed to be, yet selfless and caring toward the residents of Boys Town. Throughout this movie, you can tell that Father Flanagan always has his heart in the right place.
Based on a True Story
As I said in the introduction, Boys Town is based on a real-life person and a real-life non-profit organization. Before watching this movie, I was familiar with Boys Town as a charity. Their mission and the people that have benefited from Boys Town are things that I learned about years prior. When I watched the film, I learned more about Boys Town and the history associated with it. While there were liberties that were taken in this story, the movie is an educational lesson about who Father Flanagan is and what his mission was. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen or heard of many movies that tell the story about an existing non-profit organization. This is something that makes this film truly special!
Good Quality Content
Because Boys Town and its sequel, Men of Boys Town, were released during the Breen Code era, there isn’t any cinematic content this is questionable or offensive. Because of this, I will be talking about the positive content that is featured in this film. A large portion comes from the lessons and messages included in this narrative. Giving second chances is a fluid message, highlighted in Whitey’s subplot. By bringing Whitey to Boys Town, Father Flanagan gives Whitey a second chance at life. Despite Whitey’s negative attitudes toward his new surroundings, Father Flanagan never gives up on him. One important lesson that can be found in Boys Town is putting other people before yourself. During the entirety of this story, Father Flanagan is always looking out for the residents of Boys Town. Even when he receives hundreds of dollars in donations and plenty of praise, he still tries to figure how he can help others to the best of his abilities. Messages and lessons like these can be relatable for all members of the audience!
An Entertaining Sequel
I’ve been saying in this post that Boys Town was given a sequel called Men of Boys Town. Before I watched this film, I was skeptical about its quality. Since its predecessor was based on a true story, I wasn’t sure how the sequel would hold up. I was proven wrong, however, as I was met by a movie that was just as good or better than the first one! While Whitey’s subplot repeats some of the same story-points from Boys Town, the overall narrative of Men of Boys Town expands upon the story from the first film. New characters are introduced, causing new stories to be told. With this comes new ideas and messages, such as trauma, loss, and finding ways to heal. Men of Boys Town is one of the few sequels that actually compliments the film that came before it. If you do give Boys Town a chance, check out Men of Boys Town as well!
My Final Statement
In my review of Stowaway, I shared that I would be reviewing a Breen Code era film every week during Clean Movie Month. This gives me a chance to watch even more movies that I haven’t seen before. That’s the great thing about being a movie blogger, as I not only get to watch films that are new to me, but I also get to share these films with others. In the month of July, films that were released between 1934 and 1954, also known as the Breen Code era, are celebrated by anyone and everyone who enjoys movies. Because of Tiffany and Rebekah, from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, more people can learn about the Breen Code and why it’s an important part of film history. Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of my Clean Movie Month reviews, which will come as July goes on.
Have fun at the movies!