The Fighting 69th (1940)

89 mins | Drama | 27 January 1940

Director:

William Keighley

Cinematographer:

Tony Gaudio

Editor:

Owen Marks

Production Designer:

Ted Smith

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a pre-production news item in HR , in Jun 1939, Fox announced that it was planning to make a film based on this story. In response, Warner Bros. claimed priority rights to the story. The working titles of this film were The Old 69th and Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th . Pre-production news items in HR note that Colonel Bill Donovan, the commander of the Irish 69th regiment, was hired as technical adviser for the film and George Boothby, the story adviser on the film, was written into the script. However, because the film credits Captain John T. Prout, a member of the original 69th regiment, as technical adviser, their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Other pre-production news items in HR note that Warner Bros. decided to increase the budget for the film and replaced producer Bryan Foy with Lou Edelman. The studio built an exact replica of Camp Miles, the World War I training camp on Long Island, at Providencia Ranch, Universal City, CA. Another item in HR adds that Jeffrey Lynn replaced John Payne in the role of "Joyce Kilmer" when Payne was dropped from the studio's contract list. According to news items in HR , the film, based on the exploits of the real Father Francis Duffy, featured actual war footage shot by Brendan. Joyce Kilmer was the author of the famous poem "Trees," and was killed in battle on 30 Jul 1918 above Ourcq, France. Kilmer served in the 165th regiment, however, not the ... More Less

According to a pre-production news item in HR , in Jun 1939, Fox announced that it was planning to make a film based on this story. In response, Warner Bros. claimed priority rights to the story. The working titles of this film were The Old 69th and Father Duffy of the Fighting 69th . Pre-production news items in HR note that Colonel Bill Donovan, the commander of the Irish 69th regiment, was hired as technical adviser for the film and George Boothby, the story adviser on the film, was written into the script. However, because the film credits Captain John T. Prout, a member of the original 69th regiment, as technical adviser, their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Other pre-production news items in HR note that Warner Bros. decided to increase the budget for the film and replaced producer Bryan Foy with Lou Edelman. The studio built an exact replica of Camp Miles, the World War I training camp on Long Island, at Providencia Ranch, Universal City, CA. Another item in HR adds that Jeffrey Lynn replaced John Payne in the role of "Joyce Kilmer" when Payne was dropped from the studio's contract list. According to news items in HR , the film, based on the exploits of the real Father Francis Duffy, featured actual war footage shot by Brendan. Joyce Kilmer was the author of the famous poem "Trees," and was killed in battle on 30 Jul 1918 above Ourcq, France. Kilmer served in the 165th regiment, however, not the 69th. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jan 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Jan 40
p. 5.
Film Daily
25 Jan 40
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 39
p.1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 39
p. 2, 7
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 39
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Nov 39
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
13 Jan 40
p. 36.
New York Times
27 Jan 40
p. 9.
Variety
10 Jan 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture; Jack L. Warner in charge of prod
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Old 69th
Father Duff of the Fighting 69th
Release Date:
27 January 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 January 1940
Production Date:
late September--late October 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 January 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9376
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5756
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1917, at Camp Mills, New York, Major "Wild Bill" Donovan swears in the new recruits of the fighting 69th New York regiment, among whom is Jerry Plunkett, an arrogant braggart who refuses to follow orders. Once sent overseas, Plunkett becomes even more belligerent, and not even the unit's beloved Chaplain, Father Francis Duffy, can bring him back into the fold. Despised by the other men, Plunkett causes a massacre at Rouge Boquet when he disobeys orders and inadvertently incites the Germans to attack. Disgusted by Plunkett's behaviour, Donovan wants to transfer him out of the company, but Duffy convinces the Major to give him another chance. Although a bully in camp who brags about coming home "dripping with medals," Plunkett is a coward in battle, and after he becomes hysterical and alerts the Germans to the company's location, thus causing more deaths, he is court-martialed and sentenced to be shot. Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment is ordered on a suicide mission to take the sector at the Argonne without military support. As the regiment is beseiged by shells, the jail in which Plunkett is imprisoned is bombed and he escapes. Dashing to the hospital, Plunkett witnesses Father Duffy leading the wounded in a recitation of the Lord's prayer, and discovers in himself the faith that the father had preached. Speeding to the front, Plunkett launches a daring attack with a trench mortar, blasting a hole through the barbed wire and thus allowing the regiment to capture their objective. In the attack, Plunkett is fatally wounded, but before he dies he is given the last rites and hailed as a ... +


In 1917, at Camp Mills, New York, Major "Wild Bill" Donovan swears in the new recruits of the fighting 69th New York regiment, among whom is Jerry Plunkett, an arrogant braggart who refuses to follow orders. Once sent overseas, Plunkett becomes even more belligerent, and not even the unit's beloved Chaplain, Father Francis Duffy, can bring him back into the fold. Despised by the other men, Plunkett causes a massacre at Rouge Boquet when he disobeys orders and inadvertently incites the Germans to attack. Disgusted by Plunkett's behaviour, Donovan wants to transfer him out of the company, but Duffy convinces the Major to give him another chance. Although a bully in camp who brags about coming home "dripping with medals," Plunkett is a coward in battle, and after he becomes hysterical and alerts the Germans to the company's location, thus causing more deaths, he is court-martialed and sentenced to be shot. Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment is ordered on a suicide mission to take the sector at the Argonne without military support. As the regiment is beseiged by shells, the jail in which Plunkett is imprisoned is bombed and he escapes. Dashing to the hospital, Plunkett witnesses Father Duffy leading the wounded in a recitation of the Lord's prayer, and discovers in himself the faith that the father had preached. Speeding to the front, Plunkett launches a daring attack with a trench mortar, blasting a hole through the barbed wire and thus allowing the regiment to capture their objective. In the attack, Plunkett is fatally wounded, but before he dies he is given the last rites and hailed as a hero. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.