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The Fighting 69th

Released Jan 27, 1940 1h 30m War List
71% Tomatometer 7 Reviews 57% Audience Score 250+ Ratings
Scrappy Irish-American Private Jerry Plunkett (James Cagney) is brash and defiant as his regiment trains for war, provoking his superiors and playing the rebel. On the battlefield, however, he proves cowardly, placing the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk. Only Father Duffy (Pat O'Brien) is willing to give Plunkett another chance. As the stakes grow higher and the battlefields lay covered with the dead, his moment of truth may prove either heroic or disastrous. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (7) Critics Reviews
P.S. Harrison Harrison's Reports Even though the plot is not novel, the picture holds one's attention throughout due to the excellent performances. Oct 16, 2020 Full Review Jay Carmody Washington Star Richly schooled in the art of impersonating a snarling, ratlike human, [James] Cagney here has an opportunity to do the part in its most repulsive coloring. Feb 6, 2020 Full Review John Kinloch California Eagle For a while The Fighting 69th makes a noise like a good picture, but after a time its woeful inadequacies are visible to the naked eye -- and the blasted ear. Oct 22, 2019 Full Review Steve Crum Video-Reviewmaster.com Among best of Cagney-O'Brien Warner team-ups, this one set in WWI. Rated: 5/5 Mar 22, 2008 Full Review John J. Puccio Movie Metropolis The Fighting 69th...may become a gushy tearjerker by its end, but you can't argue that its heart isn't in the right place. Rated: 6/10 Apr 22, 2007 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com In one of his few war films, Cagney displays his "specialty" of explosive energy, as a despicable Irishman, who initially sneers at the regiment's traditions but then learns the hard way the mistakes of his cowardice and irresponsibility. Rated: 3/5 Jul 15, 2006 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Audience Member basically just propaganda Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/17/23 Full Review Audience Member This was very unique as a war story but quite enjoyable, the real-life story of Father Duffy, military priest for a New York-based group of mostly Irish Americans. Weird seeing James Cagney play a disliked, standoffish braggard who ends up being cowardly on the battlefront. Pat O'Brien's outstanding as the main character. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member This World War 1 movie was based on fact which means some of it was Hollywoodized. 'The Fighting 69th' gets a lot of mileage out of every cliche you've ever seen in a war film. It's hokey corn from start to end--and yet, despite the fact that you've seen it all before--it's an enjoyable enough experience because of its stellar cast of Warner stock players. James Cagney is the mug from Brooklyn who is nasty to one and all, described by one character as "the man they'd rather riddle with bullets than the Germans." Pat O'Brien is the true-life character of Father Duffy who has a major job on his hands trying to reform Cagney in time for the fadeout. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member Cagney plays a cocky braggart who joins the 69th Infantry Regiment in WW1 who turns out to be a bit of a coward. His cowardice results in the death of several of his comrades. The movie ends with him diving on a grenade to save another. A bit of a cliche. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/03/23 Full Review Audience Member Interestingly Cagney spends most of the movie playing the coward. He's not the streetwise tough guy you're used to. A very enjoyable early war movie. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/03/23 Full Review Audience Member A movie that shows Cagney can play against type and do so convincingly, though the setup is a bit slow by today's standards it does get across the idealism that led so many to fight the hun in the first world war. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/17/23 Full Review Read all reviews
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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Scrappy Irish-American Private Jerry Plunkett (James Cagney) is brash and defiant as his regiment trains for war, provoking his superiors and playing the rebel. On the battlefield, however, he proves cowardly, placing the lives of his fellow soldiers at risk. Only Father Duffy (Pat O'Brien) is willing to give Plunkett another chance. As the stakes grow higher and the battlefields lay covered with the dead, his moment of truth may prove either heroic or disastrous.
Director
William Keighley
Producer
Jack L. Warner
Screenwriter
Norman Reilly Raine, Fred Niblo Jr., Dean Riesner
Distributor
Warner Bros. Pictures
Production Co
Warner Bros.
Genre
War
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Jan 27, 1940, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 11, 2016
Runtime
1h 30m
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