Boys Town (1938): Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy in his Oscar-Winning Performance

Christmas Movies: Boys Town

Warner celebrates the holiday season with two inspirational tales and one irresistible comedy. Available for the first time on DVD are: Boys Town, A Christmas Carol and Christmas in Connecticut.

“Boys Town” tells the story of the inspirational Father Flanagan, a man who puts his life where his faith is by starting a boys’ home that not only helps break the cycle of despair and lawlessness but also becomes a model of hope.

“Boys Town” was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and captured the Oscars for Eleanore Griffin and Dore Schary’s (later MGM head) Best Original Story.

Spencer Tracy Oscar

Spencer Tracy conveys the inner strength of Father Flanagan in a performance that made him the first to win consecutive Best Actor Oscars; the other for “Captains Courageous.” Both “Boys Town” and “Captains Courageous” co-starred the young Mickey Rooney.

Tracy’s honor was a bit damaged by two incidents. First, the statuette arrived with an inscription to “Dick Tracy.”

Then, MGM announced that Tracy was going to donate his Oscar to Boys Town, which the actor agreed to do provided he would be given a duplicate Oscar. At the end, Tracy donated his Oscar to the juvenile center, where it remains on display to this day.

The three other nominations were for Best Picture (the winner was “You Can’t Take It With You”), director Norman Taurog (the winner was Frank Capra for “You Can’t”), and screenplay to John Meehan and Dore Schary (the winner was no other than British playwright George Bernard Shaw, and adapters Ian Dalrymple, Cecil Lewis, and W.P. Lipscomb, for “Pygmalion,” which serves as source material for the musical, “My Fair Lady”).

Another curiosity: At the time, the real-life Father Flanagan complained that MGM had made Boys Town look so clean and well-run that he was having trouble raising money.

“Boys Town” not only shared the powerful story of Father Flanagan’s work with needy children, it inspired a nation to take up his cause,” said Father Steven Boes, Girls and Boys Town National Executive Director. “Today, Girls and Boys Town continues to unlock miracles in the hearts of children on 19 campuses across the country, and this Warner classic with its message of love, hope and care continues to be just as relevant and important to contemporary audiences as it was when it was first seen.”

DVD Special Features Include:

Bonus Movies Sequel: Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney in the sequel “Men of Boys Town,” in 1941

Vintage Short, “The City of Little Men”

Archival Newsreel “Excerpts From Good News of 1939”

Boys Town Theatrical Trailer

“Men of Boys Town” Theatrical Trailer

Boys Town Organization Promotional Featurette