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The Prodigal (1931)

Passed | | Musical, Romance | 21 February 1931 (USA)
The blacksheep son of a wealthy Southern family returns to his family's plantation after he spends five years on the road as a hobo.



(story "The Southerner"), (story "The Southerner") | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview:
Doc aka Somerset Greenman
Snipe, a Tramp
Rodman Farraday
Mrs. Cynthia Farraday
Carter Jerome
Susanne Ransom ...
Gertrude Howard ...
Andrew Jackson Jones


Jeffry Farraday has spent years wandering the country as a hobo, but has now returned to his wealthy Southern family's plantation. His welcome is none too enthusiastic, especially by his sister Catherine. Jeffry's brother Rodman has an unhappy marriage with Antonia, who is carrying on a loveless affair with a man named Carter Jerome. When Antonia decides to leave her husband and go away with Jerome, Jeffry attempts to talk her out of it, but without betraying the fact that he is falling in love with her himself. To avoid disrupting the family, Jeffry decides to return to the road with his hobo pals. But circumstances interfere with his plans. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Musical | Romance






Release Date:

21 February 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Southerner  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Filmed in 1930, released in 1931, after considerable editing. See more »


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 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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