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The Fighting 69th (1940)

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.

Director:

William Keighley

Writers:

Norman Reilly Raine (original screenplay), Fred Niblo Jr. (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Jerry Plunkett
Pat O'Brien ... Father Duffy
George Brent ... 'Wild Bill' Donovan
Jeffrey Lynn ... Joyce Kilmer
Alan Hale ... Sgt. 'Big Mike' Wynn
Frank McHugh ... 'Crepe Hanger' Burke
Dennis Morgan ... Lt. Ames
Dick Foran ... Lt. 'Long John' Wynn
William Lundigan ... Timmy Wynn
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Paddy Dolan
Henry O'Neill ... The Colonel
John Litel ... Capt. Mangan
Sammy Cohen Sammy Cohen ... Mike Murphy
Harvey Stephens ... Maj. Anderson
William Hopper ... Pvt. Turner (as DeWolf Hopper)
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Storyline

"The Fighting 69th" is a First World War regiment of mostly New York-Irish soldiers. Amongst a cocky crew, perhaps the cockiest is Jerry Plunkett, a scrappy fellow who looks out only for himself. The officers and non-coms of the regiment do their best to instill discipline in Plunkett, and the chaplain, Father Duffy, tries to make Plunkett see the greater good, all to no avail. Behind the lines or in the trenches, Plunkett acts selfishly and cowardly, eventually costing the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. A final act of cowardice leads to terrible consequences, but Plunkett sees in them a chance to redeem himself...if only he can. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Jammed With Action ! . . Loaded With Excitement ! . . . And Every Thrill-Packed Word Is True !


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | Latin | Yiddish

Release Date:

27 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warner Bros. built on Providencia Ranch, California, an exact duplicate of Camp Miles, a training camp in Long Island, New York. See more »

Goofs

After the skirmish in the woods, an "unconscious" German prisoner obligingly stands on his feet prior to being carried back to the American lines. See more »

Quotes

Father Duffy: You know Jerry, you're getting yourself so "well-liked" in this army, that they'd rather machine gun *you* than the *Germans*! It was *bad enough* at Camp Mills, but instead in *improving* you've been getting *worse*!
Jerry Plunkett: Aw, that's what *you* think!
Father Duffy: No, that's what *everybody* thinks!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Up until 2004, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) had been showing an abbreviated 79-minute version of this film, with a different opening set of 13 cast credits and no end credits. The original 90-minute version has 17 end cast credits and was finally shown on TCM in 2004, although it was shown on its sister station, TNT, in the early 1990s. The IMDb cast order is based on the original movie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinematic Excrement: Shining Through (2019) See more »

Soundtracks

The Old Gray Mare
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played and sung by the soldiers
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Put a Little Bunk in Your Bunker
5 July 2014 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

It's 1917 and the United States is entering the Great War in Europe with guns blazing. Many young men (and, this being Hollywood, several decades from draft age) are recruited. Our boy from Brooklyn, wise-guy James Cagney (as Jerry Plunkett), looks like trouble from the beginning. He joins the mostly Irish Catholic "Fighting 49th" regiment. When the going gets tough, Mr. Cagney gets going – literally. As the fighting starts, Cagney realizes a man could get killed. He is no help on the battlefield, but kindly soldier priest Pat O'Brien (as Francis Duffy) provides cover for Cagney. Eventually, the cowardly Cagney's luck runs out and he must either find Christ and fight, lest he lose his spot in Heaven or on Earth...

This is an entertaining war story, with real characters giving he fictionalized Cagney story some substance. It promotes unity in the war effort and includes more realism than many propaganda films – specifically, the instances of US soldiers dying during battle is not minimized.

Cagney is engaging in the lead. His main support comes from Mr. O'Brien, who effectively manages the unholy wedding of Christianity and War. Of the many others in the cast, only a few get much script action. The best supporting part goes to Alan Hale (as "Big Mike" Wynn), who shows Cagney how to handle a mortar in a pinch. Apparently, Cagney was excused on mortar day, during training, but he's fortunately a quick study. Also getting a fair amount of screen time are stalwart George Brent (as "Wild Bill"' Donovan) and assimilated Sammy Cohan (as "Mike Murphy"). Good hokum from Warner Bros.

****** The Fighting 69th (1/26/40) William Keighley ~ James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Alan Hale, George Brent


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