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Plot: Sixteen-year-old Michael Dunn arrives at St. Basil's Catholic Boys School in Brooklyn circa 1965. There, he befriends all of the misfits in his class as they collide with the repressive faculty and discover the opposite sex as they come of age. Written by Anonymous Runtime: 104 min Release Date: 08 Feb 1985
As a Catholic with Catholic parents, my mother spoke of vindictive and may i say it nuns who prayed on terrorising young impressionable girls and boys in the 40's and 50's, even my cousins in the 60's and 70's. I didn't have a bad experience of nuns but from what i heard the Brothers in the film were exactly like the nuns my family were subjected to. I have watched this film a number of times and every time i feel for the boys in the film. I loved it and thought it was well acted and actually showed how the Brothers and nuns etc are starved of affection and take out there <more>
frustrations on the impressionable young people in there care..its quite sad and funny but so watchable. I would recommend any parent thinking of sending their children to to this kind of environment should be made to watch this film, its an excellent and brilliantly acted film. I cant fault the film in any way and all i can say is watch it with an open mind, be open to the innocence of the time its set in and be swept away with the story..its quite magical and took my breath away. I would recommend this film to anyone. Especially as Andrew McCarthys in it.
OK, so a couple reviewers thought this film was anti-Catholic, and with that attitude couldn't see the film for what it was. A Comedy, with some Drama, and actually a very very good film. Anti-Catholic? "Bullocks!" I say. If the shoe fits, wear it. I attended 12 years of Catholic school in southeastern Pennsylvania... and while this was a movie, with a fair amount of exaggeration think Pool scene , it was the best representation of those years that I've ever seen. My H.S. was co-ed, but my fathers was an all boys Catholic H.S. in Philly. His 1950's experience with <more>
Brothers was spot-on with the movie. My experience in the 1970's in PA was with Nuns. The Nuns we had in those days were identical to the Sisters shown in this movie. Full black and white attire, including flat-top headgear, and firm white covering across their forehead. Nicknamed Crows, Penguins, etc. I do not mean to be disrespectful here, just saying... The opening Church scene was as authentic as it was hilarious. The all- girls Mass Communion scene was genuine. As Altar Boys we served reverently or else , but our minds were all-American boy. One war story I'll share here: In 6th grade, one boy spit into the hair of a boy sitting in the pew in front of him during our weekly Friday 09:00AM Mass. Sister V. didn't see that happen, but when she dealt with the aftermath in the classroom 20 min's later, the boy that did it was thrown over 2 rows of desks and landed in the isle beside my desk. So absolutely, corporal punishment was dealt out on an "as needed" or even regular basis. You did not run home and tell your mother or father that a Nun hit you, BECAUSE your father would beat the tar out of you for doing something, or being part of something, that required a Nun to hit you. True story. When quarterly Reports cards were handed out by our Parish Priest, you'd have thought God himself was coming to your classroom. And you behaved accordingly, or risked the scorn of an angry Nun, which is far worse than the scorn of an angry woman. My compliments to the entire movie crew, writers, producers, actors, all. The Confessional scene is to die for, and that scene alone is worth the price of admission. The interaction between Michael Dunn and Brother Thaddeus was so good it took me back to my own early 70's catholic school years. 5-Stars from this Altar boy :- Lastly, just so you know I'm not some mincer with an Ax to grind, if I had to go to school again, I'd want to go through the same experiences again. Catholic School: Tough? Yes. Fair? Most of the time. Worth while? Absolutely. Enjoy the movie.
I am a C&E Christmas and Easter Catholic and survivor of 12 years of Catholic education. With an entry like that, one might think I'm about to flame the Church and the education it provided me. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I loved my 12 years, the first eight in the hands of the Benedictine Sisters and the last four in those of the Augustinian Fathers. They both did right by me and my three older sisters who had the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet for their high school years . We were from working to lower middle class backgrounds, and all matriculated at good <more>
universities from which we all graduated. We couldn't have done that without the fine start those first 12 years gave us. We all also came of age in the 60s and in my case, early-70s.Having said all that, ad having gone to a well known all boys high school in a major west coast city from 1970 to 1974, I will happily confirm that pretty much everything I saw in this film rang true. We didn't have swimming, but if we had, I have no doubt that it might have been in the nude. Otherwise, we had our share of jerks as teachers, both religious and lay, that we had to navigate, but it is amazing what having some hurdle like that to overcome will do for the "esprit de corps" of the entire student body. These people, and the lengths to which we went to get over on them, became the stuff of legend, and because they often were employed as teachers well beyond their usefulness, they became legends across more than one generation. In fact, they became a kind of whetstone upon which our characters were honed; usually with success. Personally, if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing, and one of my great regrets is that I couldn't do for my children what my parents sacrificed to do for all of us. However, the tuition these days has skyrocketed to a layer of the stratosphere where my parents never dreamed of treading. That annual tuition is more than what most public universities are charging these days. Hell, my parents never even made in a year what the schools are now charging for one year. I am managing to put my three through college and consider that I am fortunate to be able to do that. Anyway, it was a great time to be alive, and a great experience that I will cherish to the day I die.
This movie depicts a time that has now become a part of history. St. Michael's School closed its doors earlier this year. The neighborhood which was populated by Irish and Italian kids is now primarily Latino and lower-income,who couldn't afford the rising tuition.The situations, as portrayed, were actually quite realistic for an inner-city parochial school. Some might say the brutality toward the boys was extreme- but pretty close to the truth.Actual scenes were used in the neighborhood. The building that housed the candy store is still there, empty and derelict.The movie caught the <more>
nice period nice; pro-catholic movie (by shabbona91)
I disagree with previous reviewers who called this movie anti-catholic bigotry. I think the humor is in good fun, and the film is ultimately respectful of Catholic worship and traditions. I am catholic and I am not offended. I also think the corporal punishment scenes are quite real and not "over the top." The catholic high school I attended did allow slapping, punching, kneeling on cement, being in push up position, kicks in the butt, slams into lockers, and hard paddlings. Frankly I was glad I never had to take that scary stuff on the open palms; brothers who used paddles or <more>
straps were mercifully allowed to strike only the buttocks. We also had to swim nude, but after the first embarrassing freshman day it was no big deal. Virtually all boys at all schools had to use public showers, so why is nude swimming a big deal? A brief synopsis: Michael Dunn is a Boston teenager sent to live in Brooklyn. His chain-smoking grandmother has delusions about him being a priest someday, and he is sent to a rigid, stern Catholic boys academy. After befriending the school's brain and a group of non-academic goofballs, he ends up in trouble with the school's strictest teacher, the unethical Bro. Constance. Michael falls in love with a local girl, a truant who runs a soda fountain and takes care of her disabled father. The brothers shut down the shop, and the police take the girlfriend away. A hilarious prank is launched for revenge, and chaos ensues. This film succeeds on two levels: it is both a comment on Catholic education and an engrossing character study. You really come to love and root for the characters.
Realistic film about 60s urban teens. (by sonya90028)
This film takes place during the mid-60s in Brooklyn, at a fascist-like Catholic school for boys. The kids who attend this school, have to deal with ridiculously strict teachers, who are all church elders. The teachers walk around in long brown robes, and have haircuts like monks. Naturally, the boys find clever ways to rebel against their school's stifling regulations, and are constantly getting into mischief.Back in the mid-60s corporal punishment was still common in all schools, not just Catholic ones. The difference in this film, is that the teachers try to use Catholic religious <more>
values, to justify their harsh punitive treatment of the students. One teacher in particular, is very sadistic whenever he wants to punish his pupils. He locks them in a closet, viciously whips their hands with a wooden paddle, slaps them, pulls their hair, ETC.When a group of boys vandalize a statue, the sadistic teacher tries to paddle their behinds with a gigantic wooden paddle. This is the last straw for the boys, who are fed-up with being brutally disciplined by this teacher. And they decide to take matters into their own hands. This is a good film overall, about 60s teens. It was very realistic, in showing the life that urban teens led in that era. By showing how barbaric corporal punishment was back then, this movie can make the viewer glad that it's been abolished in schools nowadays.I can only imagine how many kids who were in school in the 60s, have been psychologically damaged by getting beaten by their teachers. Since they had to cope with this, it's no wonder that most young people growing-up during the 60s, vehemently rebelled against authority.
This Film is to Catholic School what Saved is to Protestant Christian School (by bkoganbing)
A friend of mine who's an organist at a Catholic parish in New Jersey told me that the school used for the setting of Heaven Help Us is not to far from him in New Jersey. The area looks more like Brooklyn in 1965 than Brooklyn does. Having graduated a public high school in Brooklyn of that year, I can attest to that.I can also attest to the fact that for people I knew in Catholic school at the time this movie really does hit the mark. Those who were taught by Brothers as they were here, told me that they ranged in character from idealistic John Heard to the sadistic Jay Patterson to <more>
father figure Donald Sutherland. And a few in between also with some issues.One has to remember that this was the New York City of Robert Wagner in his last year as Mayor and with Wagner's blessing, Cardinal Spellman still had virtual carte blanche over his domain. Tommy Becket would have envied what he achieved over civil government. When you see those brothers invading that candy store, that's no exaggeration.When I was a lad in Brooklyn, we had a candy store around the corner from a Catholic grade school. It was run by Mr. Lobenstein who was Jewish. Yet it was a refuge for the Catholic grade schoolers like the store that Mary Stuart Masterson is running for her Dad. The nuns would think nothing of going there to haul their charges back to class should they be late.The nude swimming in the high school pool is no exaggeration. It's a boys school so presumably we all have nothing to hide. I did love Philip Bosco as the brother gym teacher telling the Catholic youth they had to get in shape to fight the Communists. This would have been standard dogma from Spellman. Of course some poor closeted gay kid would have been going completely out of his mind in that setting. And as we see in the end there was at least one.The five student protagonists are Kevin Dillon, Andrew McCarthy, Malcolm Denare, Patrick Dempsey, and Stephen Geoffreys. Stephen Geoffreys the poor sexually frustrated kid who was constantly doing some self fulfillment left acting for a career in male porn. However it is the dynamic of the relationship between Kevin Dillon and Andrew McCarthy that drives the film. I met quite a few back in the day who were like both Dillon and McCarthy. Dillon is the school rebel, but McCarthy is the one who commits the ultimate act of defiance.The best performance in the film is by Jay Patterson as Brother Constance. The only thing I can say is that the man had issues. I really can't say more, you have to see Heaven Help Us. The man on some level truly thought he was building character.Last year the movie Saved came out and did for Protestant Christian schools what Heaven Help Us does for Catholic education. That's the best description I can give it.
..and I was an altar boy, and went to church every day, and confession..So watching this the other day brought some of that back to me. There were Brothers in the parish but nuns taught school. As some other comments have suggested, this movie is unimaginable without Kevin Dillon. He's riotous, from beginning to end. He's given all the good lines and makes the most of them. You barely hear Patrick Dempsey's voice at all. I was and am not an Andrew McCarthy fan, but he's very tolerable in this. Its the lead but the less showy part. His scenes with Mary Stuart Masterson <more>
don't exactly jump off the screen, but they are adequate to the movie. Movie also gets some points from me for the Elvis references. The guys go to an Elvis movie after seeing the Pope and get in trouble for it , plus the King is heard over the credits at the end. 8/10.
This gentle, warm comedy set in a Catholic school in New York in 1965 seems to have been overlooked for a longtime. Maybe it got lost amongst the so called 'Brat Pack' movies of the mid eighties or maybe the name change to 'Catholic Boys' for it's UK release didn't help it's recognition. This is certainly a hidden gem with plenty of funny lines from Rooney Dillon and a nice understated romance between Michael McCarthy and Danni Masterson that doesn't get in the way of the plot.However most terrifying are the Brothers presence and their interpertation of <more>
the catholic religion. If their is a longer director's cut I would definatly like to see it on DVD. This film is certainly well worth a look at.