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Fighting Father Dunne


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/Drama, USA, 1948, 93 min.

Synopsis As two of his men are about to destroy the sidewalk outside St. Louis' rundown News Boys' Home and Protectorate, contractor Fred Carver asks that a piece of the sidewalk containing two sets of footprints be preserved. Fred explains to his workers that one set of footprints was made by him as a small boy, and the other belonged to Father Peter J. Dunne, the founder of the Home. Fred then recalls how Father Dunne became the "patron saint" of newsboys everywhere: In the winter of 1905, orphan newsboys huddle together in the cold while waiting for newspapers to sell. During a grueling morning of work, two boys, Jimmy and Tony, go to see Father Dunne and tell him that Chip, another orphan newsboy, is sick. Concerned, Father Dunne asks Jimmy and Tony to take him to Chip's home, which turns out to be an unheated packing case. Father Dunne takes the ailing Chip to his sister Kate's house and calls a doctor. After the doctor prescribes bed rest for all three boys, Father Dunne convinces his reluctant brother-in-law, Emmett Mulvey, to sacrifice his only bed to the children. Father Dunne then informs his superior, Archbishop John Joseph Glennon, about the conditions under which the boys live and asks for help in creating a Home for them. Although the archbishop pledges to support Father Dunne's efforts, he also makes clear that the Catholic Church cannot donate any money to the cause. With that in mind, Father Dunne rents a shabby townhouse with help from lawyer Tom Lee and slowly begins to turn it into a home for Jimmy, Tony, Chip and two other boys. To supply the quickly expanding Home, the smooth-talking Father Dunne then cajoles various merchants into donating their goods to his cause. Father Dunne even talks Michael O'Donnell, a sour-faced businessman from Northern Ireland, into lending the Home his pony and cart, which some newsboys had earlier tried to steal. When one of the young thieves, Matt Davis, throws a brick through the Home's front window in order to "get in," Father Dunne welcomes him without question. Disturbed by the violence perpetrated on his boys by their older competitors, Father Dunne confronts Colpeck, the head of the


Directed by Ted Tetzlaff  

Starring Pat O'Brien, Darryl Hickman, Charles Kemper, Una O'Connor, Arthur Shields, more...

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