Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 July 2007

Boys Town

Norman Taurog's Boys Town is no cinematic masterpiece. It's not brilliantly shot or perfectly scripted or superbly acted or anything like that. What it is is a story about an idealistic priest (Spencer Tracy) who decides to make a home for boys in Omaha, Nebraska. He sees the problem of homeless, delinquent boys as something that he can change in his city. So he mortgages everything he can think of and rents a house and makes a home for fifty boys. Then he begins to dream, and builds an entire city for boys: with a way for each of them to work and serve the community and vote. Father Flanagan's motto is "there is no such thing as a truly bad boy." Then Mickey Rooney enters the picture as a boy who refuses to be reformed. Trouble ensues.

The film is directed by Norman Taurog, the director who made Skippy and who became famous in the 1930s as a child's director. He made several films about children and he had a way with directing them to excellent performances. As I said, Boys Town is no masterpiece, but it's about fatherless boys finding a home and a paternal figure who takes care of them and believes in them and fights for them. So, if you know me very well, you know that I cried at least a half a dozen times and that I totally loved this sentimental little film from 1938.

I know, I know. I'm a mess. Orphans, coming of age stories, father-son sagas. I'm a sucker for this shit.