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Fighting Father Dunne

Fighting Father Dunne(1948)

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The working titles of this film were Father Dunne's Newsboys Home and Father Dunne's Home. The film's opening credits include the following written foreword: "This is a story about a man who lived in St. Louis. It is also a tribute to him and what he stood for. The conditions that Father Dunne helped alleviate no longer exist in St. Louis, or in any other city...." Although the character played by Harry Shannon is listed as "John Lee" in the onscreen credits, he is called "Tom Lee" in the film. According to Hollywood Reporter, Phil L. Ryan Productions, which was producer Ryan's company, sold the rights to the film's story for $50,000, plus a percentage of the profits. RKO production files contained at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections note that Roddy McDowall tested for a role in the production. A September 1946 Los Angeles Examiner news item noted that producer Jack Gross was planning to shoot some scenes in St. Louis in February 1947, but no evidence that filming was done there has been found. Reviewers noted the similarity between this film and M-G-M's 1938 hit movie Boy's Town, which chronicled the founding of Father Edward Flanagan's home for juvenile delinquents in Omaha, NE (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0465). According to Los Angeles Times, in April 1950, Matthew L. Davis of St. Louis lost a $300,000 lawsuit against RKO after a federal court decided that his reputation had not been damaged by this film. Davis lived at the News Boys' Home as a child and, after the picture was released, became jokingly known as "Killer Davis."