Boys' Reformatory (1939)

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Boys' Reformatory (1939) Poster

A tough street kid takes the rap for a burglary committed by the son of his foster family and is sent to a boys reformatory, where the inmates are under the thumb of corrupt guards and a brutal prison doctor.


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13 November 2012 | MartinHafer
| A decent little film.
In the late 1930s, it was fashionable in Hollywood to make films about the penal system that were intended to promote prison reform--particularly films about juvenile institutions. There were a ton of them and most were actually pretty good--if a bit idealistic. In this particular film, Frankie Darro enters a prison unjustly and meets a reform-minded doctor who seems to be voicing the sentiments of the screen writers.

The film begins with two young men. One is an orphan (Frankie Darro) who lives with the other young man's family (Frank Coughlin Jr.). When Coughlin goes into a life of crime and nearly gets himself caught by the police, nice-guy Darro takes the rap for him and goes to jail--though this really makes no sense. Who would agree to go to prison for robbery if they didn't commit it?! Anyway, Darro works hard in prison and tries to make a new life for himself. However, when Coughlin ALSO later gets sent there and the boss-man wants to have both of them killed (since they know too much), things heat up and it leads to an unbelievable but enjoyable finale. Overall, while certainly not a brilliant film, it is entertaining. Brilliant? Perhaps not--but worth a look.

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Release Date:

1 May 1939



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