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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MEN OF BOYS TOWN (1941)

Gruesome sequel to BOYS TOWN (see above), which has the modest value of revealing the increasing levels of studio stylistic suffocation from the relatively free-wheeling ‘30s to the stultifying ‘40s. The basic story premise has a touch of promise (juvie delinquent homes are no more than prisons run by sadistic bullies who turn wayward boys into full-fledged criminal types), but the treatment is so wet, it makes the bathetic original look like THE WILD DUCK. Even with the same director (Norman Taurog), the backlot studio encapsulation is now complete, while glossier lensing & Herbert Stothart’s insipid musical scoring complete the emasculation of any possible dramatic intent. Mickey Rooney pulls off a funny slow-mo wrestling match (as part of an in-house radio show?), but that’s about it. Unless you get a kick seeing Henry Hull’s role in the original film now essayed by Lee J. Cobb. I always get those two mixed up. Don't you?

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