It was so long ago that I don't even remember what we were talking about, buy I vividly recall my dad asking me something that has stuck with me since the moment he said it. He asked me, his index finger bobbing up and down as he did, Do you think there's more good in the world, or evil? Without hesitation, a young m.brown replied, Good, obviously.
He shook his head. If there was more good in the world, we could do away with the evil. There's equal parts of both. It's a balance. I nodded, because that's what I do when I agree (or more likely, have no f--king clue what to say next). If that's really the case, if such a balance really does exist, then in 1930's Nebraska? Well, there must have been some bad ass motherf--kers.
Turns out, there was. About five hundred of them.
In 1938's Boys Town, Spencer Tracy plays Father Flanagan, quite possibly the goodest person ever to walk the planet. Fine, goodest isn't a real word, but Father Flanagan as portrayed by Tracy, appears to be the most agreeable, compassionate and understanding man alive. And even more impressive? He never wavers. Not once.
Boys Town, (loosely?) based on a true story, details the lengths that Father Flanagan went to in creating a place for wayward, well, boys. Initially starting with a half-dozen troublemakers, eventually Flanagan builds a facility/compound housing nearly a hundred times that. Along the way we see ol' Padre use the powers of persuasion to convert many a non-believer. I'm talking adults - investors, and the like, not the kids. 'Cause the boys? They fall in line real fast, see.
One day, however, trouble blows into the idyllic Town, as Whitey Marsh (an irritating Mickey Rooney, all of 18 years old) struts in, laughing in the face of Father Flanagan's laid-back approach. Whitey, without a doubt, is a real f--ker, Hell bent on destroying every single thing that Flanagan has built, not to mention being a real dick to every kid at the place. In fact, he's such a little shit, I was actually rooting against his inevitable change of heart, even if it made for a real
sappy happy ending.
Speaking of happy endings, here are the Yays and Boos for Boys Town. They'd like to give you a happy ending. Sundae. At Friendly's. C'mon, now this is a family picture. Get your head out of the gutter.
- Thirties insults! Even I'm not hardcore enough to call someone a mush brained sap!
- There's an all-kid riot that is pretty awesome.It seems like it's being fast-forwarded, but I think the kids are just hopped on goofballs.
- Italian Salami Guy. Yeah, that's likely a bad way to be known, but he's a good dude, regardless.
- Same with Window Guy. Likely the most generous man in the flick.
- Father Flanagan is pretty much a Jedi Master. *waves hand* You do want to donate to Boys Town. I'm pretty sure Watto would've donated to their pod-racing team. You know, assuming they had one.
- Kicking ass for The Lord! Father Flanagan may be a lot of things, but a sucker isn't one of them. Dude sweeps the leg like nobody's business. And can lay you out in one punch, too.
- Hey, Whitey. Nice haircut, a-hole.
- I dare you to lie to Father Flanagan. In fact, I double dare you.
- Hey, you want to fight at Boys Town? Well, step into the ring. Should be a harmless way to settle differences, right? Sure, sure. Unless you fight the kid that Whitey steps to.
- And finally, the ending. Father Flanagan and his boys literally kick in a building. It's equal parts great and ridiculous. I think more movies should feature kids kicking through walls in the name of justice.
|There he is, right there in the middle: Whitey Marsh. |
World's biggest a-hole.
- It's been two weeks, but all I remember is I hated Skinny. What a dick.
- These little shits get an attitude with Father Flanagan when Christmas turns out a little, say, unspectacular. Oh really, kids? So for Christmas, instead of being gang-raped with a candy cane in juvi, you get an old shoe and some broth and you're going to complain? Turn 'em loose, Padre. Turn. Them. Loose.
- Flanagan goes and meets some prisoner upstate and let's just say it's a weird scene.
- But nothing trumps him playing hot-n-cold with Pee Wee, a little punk always looking for candy. This one time, I'm pretty sure the candy was in Flanagan's lap...and let's just say instead of saying warm, warmer, hot! we could have went with awkward, super uncomfortable, CALL THE POLICE!
- But little Pee Wee? That's not even close to the worst thing that happens to this kid. Nope. Not by
60 miles per houra mile.
- And finally, Mickey Rooney. Sure, Whitey's a thankless character, and Rooney gives an insane performance, but my God Whitey may be the worst character ever. I want to get a shirt that says Kill Whitey, but I'm assuming that it won't go over well. You know, anywhere.
It's very fitting that I've recently come across a film where a man routinely professes, there is no such thing as a bad boy.
School starts on Monday.
I'll be teaching eighth graders.