A year after their former exploits, Tom Sawyer's puppy love of Becky Thatcher keeps him home while Huck Finn, chafing under "civilizing" influences like school and shoes, plans to run away. His scapegrace, abusive father intervenes; Tom and black Jim help him escape; and (departing from the novel) all three raft down the Mississippi, where they're joined by two likable rogues and meet pretty orphans Ella and Mary Jane. The latter may change Huck's mind about girls... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
This film,the first talking version of "Huckleberry Finn", was made by the same production company (Paramount) which made the first talking version of "Tom Sawyer" the year before. Both of these films were shortly surpassed by better versions--David O.Selznick's beautiful, definitive "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in 1938, and the best film version of "Huckleberry Finn", in 1939 (with Mickey Rooney). The 1931 "Huckleberry Finn" suffers from many of the problems of early talkies by being stagy and flat, with unimaginative camera-work, and overstated (though not really bad) performances. But the adaptation of the story is a valuable piece of instruction on the cowardice and racial attitudes of Hollywood at that time. Most of the film (it runs only about 75 minutes) is given over to comic escapades of Huck either invented or deliberately emphasized for this version. The slavery issue (and Huck's dilemma concerning Jim) is barely even mentioned,and not even resolved at film's end,though Jim DOES join Huck on the raft.The unfortunate Clarence Muse, an excellent actor, has been directed to play Jim in the bug-eyed, shuffling comic stereotyped manner of the time----at one point,he rushes out of a house "comically" screaming for help,and his face and wide-open mouth fill the ENTIRE screen---presumably for laughs!
As an acting and museum piece, this movie is a curiosity. As a cultural representation of Mark Twain,it's a disgrace. Fortunately, the later Mickey Rooney version of the book made amends for this by restoring the full dramatic impact of the racial issue, and Rex Ingram gave a beautiful, deeply felt performance as Jim. See this version for curiosity's sake, but then rent and enjoy the MGM 1939 version.
10 of 17 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?