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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 991 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 2 critic

Misadventures of a mischievous boy in 1850 Missouri.


, (uncredited) , 2 more credits »


(the beloved classic by), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
David Holt ...
Victor Kilian ...
Nana Bryant ...
Olin Howland ...
Sunday School Superintendent
Charles Richman ...
Marcia Mae Jones ...
Mickey Rentschler ...
Cora Sue Collins ...
Philip Hurlic ...
Little Jim
Ann Gillis ...


Sentiment rules in this version of the Twain tale of boyhood in 1850 Missouri, reasonably faithful except for minor details and making the character Jim a boy instead of a man. Includes the whitewash episode, puppy love, the graveyard murder, the boys' running away to Jackson's Island, the salvation of Muff Potter, and the cave adventure. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | missouri | cave | murder | graveyard | See more »


Thrills! Adventure! Laughs! [1958 re-release] See more »


Family | Adventure


TV-G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 February 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Many disputes arose between photographer James Wong Howe and his associate, Technicolor photographer Wilfred M. Cline about which colors to use in wardrobe and sets. Cline wanted bright primary colors, while Howe insisted on subdued earth tones. Since Howe got his way, after one week they were not on speaking terms and The Technicolor Company banned Howe from shooting further pictures in color; Howe did not make another color film for 10 years. See more »


When Tom is wooing Becky by the river, the frog makes his hat jerk up and down. In the next shot, the string attached to the hat is clearly visible (at 25:40 in 91 minutes). See more »


Aunt Polly: Land o'Goshan, your hair looks like a hornets' nest.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits read "A Picturization in Technicolor of the Beloved Classic by Mark Twain 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'". See more »


Version of Tom Sawyer (1973) See more »


If I Ever See
Composer unknown
Poem by Lydia Maria Child
Sung a cappella by children on the hayride
Reprised a cappella by Ann Gillis in the cave
See more »

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User Reviews

A marvellous piece of Americana
22 March 2010 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

A glorious piece of Americana and a great film for children, this adaptation of Mark Twain's classic was directed by Norman Taurog, who was a dab hand at this sort of thing, (he had already won the Oscar for Skippy with Jackie Cooper), and is something of a classic itself. The very likable Tommy Kelly is Tom and it's a lovely performance, one of the least ingratiating by a child in all of American movies. He's untrained and innocent and when he cries he's actually very moving. Under Taurog's direction all of the children are first-rate; they all capture the spirit of Mark Twain perfectly. The adults include the great May Robson, magnificent as Aunt Polly, Victor Jory, a suitably frightening Injun Joe, Walter Brennan, Margaret Hamilton and Donald Meek. It's also luminously photographed in early colour by James Wong Howe. David O Selznick produced with all the care and attention to detail you would expect.

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