5.5/10
177
10 user 5 critic

Way Down South (1939)

Passed | | Action, Music | 21 July 1939 (USA)
In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves, to his young son. While the deceased treated his slaves decently, his corrupt ... See full summary »

Writers:

Clarence Muse (original story and screenplay), Langston Hughes (original story and screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bobby Breen ... Timothy Reid Jr.
Alan Mowbray ... Jacques Bouton
Ralph Morgan ... Timothy Reid Sr.
Steffi Duna ... Pauline
Clarence Muse ... Uncle Caton
Sally Blane ... Claire Bouton
Edwin Maxwell ... Martin Dill
Charles Middleton ... Cass
Robert Greig ... Judge Ravenal
Lillian Yarbo ... Janie
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ... Gumbo (as Stymie Beard)
Hall Johnson Choir Hall Johnson Choir ... Church Choir
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Storyline

In the pre-Civil War South, a plantation owner dies and leaves all his possessions, including his slaves, to his young son. While the deceased treated his slaves decently, his corrupt executor abuses them unmercifully, beating them without provocation, and he is planning to sell off the father'e estate--including the slaves--at the earliest opportunity so he and his mistress can steal the money and move to France. The young boy doesn't want to sell his father's estate or break up an of the slave families, and he has to find someone to help him thwart the crooked executor's plans. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HELP YOURSELF TO HAPPINESS! HERE'S A WHILE SHOW-FULL! (original poster - all caps)

Genres:

Action | Music

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 July 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La strada del sud See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sol Lesser Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in Los Angeles Saturday 30 July 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5) and in New York City Saturday 9 September 1950 on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning the film, four of the characters sing the popular tune "Dem Golden Slippers." However, the film takes place in 1857, and the song wasn't written until 1879. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Timeless: Hollywoodland (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh, Dem Golden Slippers!
(1879) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by James Allen Bland
Sung a cappella by Clarence Muse, Ralph Morgan, Bobby Breen and Matthew 'Stymie' Beard
See more »

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User Reviews

Decent Race Film
27 February 2008 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Way Down South (1939)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Interesting race picture from RKO features two black writers (Clarence Muse, Langston Hughes) doing the screenplay. Set before the Civil War, a plantation owner dies leaving his farm and slaves to his young son (Bobby Breen). Soon an executive comes into play and tries to sell the slaves but the young kid won't stand for this as the slaves are his only friends. It's interesting to see a Hollywood picture from this era treating blacks with any sort of respect and in many ways it's more respectful than many of the other race pictures that I've seen, which were made by black directors. The film only runs 61-minutes so the drama of slavery isn't ever really looked at and the film would later be criticized by the NAACP for showing "happy slaves". The films main goal is to have a spotlight for the young Breen and he's pretty good here, although his musical numbers aren't anything special.


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