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The Prodigal (1931)

Passed  |   |  Musical, Romance  |  21 February 1931 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 13 users  
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Title: The Prodigal (1931)

The Prodigal (1931) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Cast overview:
Lawrence Tibbett ...
Jeffrey Farraday
Antonia Farraday
Doc aka Somerset Greenman
Snipe, a Tramp
Purnell Pratt ...
Rodman Farraday
Emma Dunn ...
Mrs. Farraday
Stepin Fetchit ...
Louis John Bartels ...
Theodore von Eltz ...
Carter Jerome
Wally Albright ...
Susanne Ransom ...
Gertrude Howard ...
John Larkin ...


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Musical | Romance






Release Date:

21 February 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Southerner  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Remake of Pals First (1918) See more »


Without a Song
Written by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu & Billy Rose
Performed by Lawrence Tibbett
See more »

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User Reviews

A mishmash of comedy, drama, music, and racist portrayals.
2 May 2000 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"The Prodigal" appears to be assembled from leftover script ideas from other films. It opens with some pretty good scenes of the lives of tramps in the early Depression years. Soon it focusses on Jeff Farraday, one of the tramps who actually comes from a wealthy Southern plantation family. Jeff has been exiled from the family, served time in jail, and is detested by his brother Rodman and sister Christine. The Farraday family seems to be withstanding the Depression quite well. Jeff returns to the plantation with a couple of other bums, is welcomed by his adoring mother, scorned by his siblings, and falls in love with the charming and perky Antonia, the wife of his brother Rodman. Rodman, of course, is a cruel, bullying stuffed shirt who hates Antonia but won't give her a divorce.

The film veers from melodramatic family conflict to awkward love scenes to thoroughly unfunny comedy to incongruous musical numbers. Jeff is played by opera-singer Lawrence Tibbett who frequently breaks into song. Tibbett can really sing but he can't act, nor can any of the other characters in this mishmash. But then with lines like these, it would be impossible for any actor to seem anything other than ridiculous.

Not to be overlooked are the really horrible portrayals of the blacks on the plantation. Even for the time (when Aunt Jemima type characters are standard), these racist portrayals are extreme. One farmhand is a whining, sniveling wimp; other scenes involving the darkies' BBQ make a viewer want to crawl under the table.

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