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The Man Without a Country (1937)

Approved | | Drama, Short | 27 November 1937 (USA)

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In this classic story, US Army Lt. Philip Nolan is upset with his assignment to a remote outpost with no possibility for promotion. He intends to join Aaron Burr, who plans to form a new ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (story)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Marian Morgan
Ted Osborne ...
Jack Morgan (as Theodore Osborne)


In this classic story, US Army Lt. Philip Nolan is upset with his assignment to a remote outpost with no possibility for promotion. He intends to join Aaron Burr, who plans to form a new country in the lands west of the Mississippi River. Before he can get away, Nolan is charged with treason. At his court martial, he angrily tells the tribunal that he never wants to see or hear of the United States again. He gets his wish, and is sentenced to permanent, lifetime exile aboard US ships at sea. No crew member can mention anything about the United States within his hearing, and in the books he is allowed to read, all references to the United States are removed. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@prodigy.net>

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Drama | Short






Release Date:

27 November 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Technicolor Specials (1937-1938 season) #2: The Man Without a Country  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reels #8369-8370. See more »


When Nolan's fiancée Marian visits him on the Hornet in 1835, the song 'Beautiful Dreamer' is playing in the background. 'Beautiful Dreamer' wasn't written until 1864. Foster wrote it just a few days before his death. See more »


Remade as The Man Without a Country (1973) See more »


Yankee Doodle
Played briefly during the shot of the 1861 map
See more »

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User Reviews

Poor Headstrong Philip Nolan
27 November 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Edward Everett Hale's classic short story, The Man Without A Country has been done as a feature film on the big and small screen a few times. There was even a classic radio play that was narrated by Bing Crosby where Frank Lovejoy played Nolan that sold a few platters back in the day. But this 1937 adaption covers all the salient points in the story.

I've always found it ironic that the guy who was putting this whole western conspiracy together in the first decade of the 19th century, Aaron Burr, was never convicted of anything, but that this fictional small fry Philip Nolan got such a sentence. It wasn't however for any vague plot against the USA because Aaron Burr's very vagueness of purpose kept him from conviction. Nolan was arrested for desertion and his guilt was pretty clear about that.

John Litel as Nolan dreams of glory, riches, and adventure in winning his bride Gloria Holden. When he's reminded of his duty at the court martial, he utters the words that seal his fate about, 'damn the United States, I wish I may never hear of her again. As Hale says in the story the men who convicted and determined this sentence of exile for Nolan were those who had fought in the Revolution and such talk was an abomination to them.

Nolan is sentenced to be placed aboard a Navy vessel where he's to live for the rest of his natural life without hearing a mention of the United States of America again. He lives under that burden up until the Civil War.

Holden is showed begging for clemency from two presidents. James Monroe who was a Revolutionary veteran and survivor of Valley Forge and Andrew Jackson, a significant military figure in his own right from the next generation. Finally she wins a hearing from a president known for pardoning people, Abraham Lincoln.

The ending is changed and quite frankly ripped off from Maytime. Still Litel and Holden make a fine pair of lovers eternal and The Man Without A Country is a stirring story, brought to us in a stirring adaption as a Warner Brothers short subject.

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