Hoosier Schoolboy (July 7, 1937)

Mickey Rooney and Anne Nagel in Hoosier Schoolboy

Released July 7, 1937: Mary Evans travels to Ainsley, Indiana, a small farming town surrounded by dairy farms. There is a milk strike going on, and the dairy farmers are fighting for a better existence, and the fellow that owns the dairy intends to ruin the farmers to get a lower price. Into this mix we toss a young troubled boy with a war veteran father who is discarded by the town as a no-good drunkard.

Directed by William Nigh

The Actors: Mickey Rooney (Shockey Carter), Anne Nagel (Mary Evans), Frank Shields (John 'Jack' Matthews Jr.), Edward Pawley (Captain Fred Carter), William Gould (John Matthews Sr.), Dorothy Vaughan (Miss Hodges, school mistress), Anita Deniston (Elvira), Harry Hayden (Mr. Townsend), Bradley Metcalfe (Roger Townsend), Doris Rankin (school girl), Walter Long (Riley), Helena Grant (school girl), Cecil Weston (teacher), Mary Field (school board secretary), Zita Moulton (school girl), Fred Kelsey (Mr. Crowder), Lester Dorr (Lester Dorr), Martin H. Pawley (classmate), Maude Philby (Mrs. Townsend).


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This is another wonderful peek into the lives, personalities and times of small town America. I grew up in small towns, and while the storyline in this movie is something that I never experienced, the personalities of the characters are very true to life from my experiences long ago, and I imagine that while the situations have changed, you will recognize the same personalities and attitudes today. Some movies have a very black and white story line - the good guys are really good, and the bad guys are really bad, from beginning to end. But real life is seldom like that. Truth be told, most of us have days when we look back and realize that we were the bad guy in a situation, and some days we look back and are proud that we did something 'above and beyond' normal that was really good. This movie shows us the complex characters that we find difficult to peg as good guys and bad guys. It also shows a slice of life where many levels of people live together. In lots of old movies we either watch the wealthy side of life or the poverty side of life, each in their own different but unique world. But in small towns the wealthy and the poor live and work side by side every day. After I graduated from Shanksville-Stonycreek school with 25 classmates, I went to larger cities to find work, and quickly became acquainted with zoning, gated communities, slums and bedroom suburbs. In larger cities various economic levels of people cluster together, so that everyone's neighbor is like each other in class, wealth (or lack of wealth) and breeding. But in the country there is no zoning, and it is not uncommon to drive past a shack with people living in it, and their neighbor is a home that is obviously very expensive and luxurious. And it would not be uncommon to find that the folks living in both these houses were friends. That is how small towns grow and survive, I imagine even today.

So grab a bowl of freshly popped white kernel popcorn and watch a slice of small town America in the late 1930's with the people and personalities that all small towns have, even today.