Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
Director: James P. Hogan
Stars: Lynne Overman, Evelyn Keyes, Tim Holt
Beau Geste (1939)
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three adopted English brothers join the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, after one of them steals their adoptive family's famous heirloom sapphire.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston
Call Me Madam (1953)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Washington hostess Sally Adams becomes a Truman-era US ambassador to a European grand duchy.

Director: Walter Lang
Stars: Ethel Merman, Donald O'Connor, Vera-Ellen
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Of the singing Beebe brothers, young Mike just wants to be a kid; responsible Dave wants to work in his garage and marry Martha; but feckless Joe thinks his only road to success is through ... See full summary »

Director: Wesley Ruggles
Stars: Bing Crosby, Fred MacMurray, Donald O'Connor
Anything Goes (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Bill Benson and Ted Adams are to appear in a Broadway show together and, while in Paris, each 'discovers' the perfect leading lady for the plum female role. Each promises the prize role to ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Lewis
Stars: Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Zizi Jeanmaire
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland, Louise Campbell
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Molly and Terry Donahue, plus their three children, are The Five Donahues. Son Tim meets hat-check girl Vicky and the family act begins to fall apart.

Director: Walter Lang
Stars: Ethel Merman, Marilyn Monroe, Donald O'Connor
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A group of entertainers visit the home of a radio singer to try to get her to book them on her show.

Director: Edward F. Cline
Stars: The Andrews Sisters, Patty Andrews, Maxene Andrews
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

At Middleton College, controlled by rich donor Melton, only paying sports are allowed. But Freddie Frye, conniving student body president, has to get a letter in some sport to win back his ... See full summary »

Directors: Nick Grinde, Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Betty Grable, John Hartley, Donald O'Connor


Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Cook ...
Uncle Silas
Phil Warren ...
Jeff Rutledge
Ruth Phelps
Elisabeth Risdon ...
Jupiter Dunlap
Edward Pawley ...
Brace Dunlap
Sheriff Slocum
Judge Tyler
Farmer Sykes


Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

23 December 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tom Sawyer detective  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

When in Doubt Make a Sequel
18 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Most people are aware that Mark Twain wrote a successful novel called TOM SAWYER in 1876, which has never been out of print. Based on his recollections of his youth in Hannibal, Missouri, Twain created a permanent boy's book about youthful coming of age and adventure. He followed it with his masterpiece, HUCKLEBERRY FINN (about Tom's closest friend) in 1885. Although he wrote five to seven other major works besides these two, most people recall TOM SAWYER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN as the novels they have read by Twain.

What most people don't know is that Twain kept toying, in later years, with returning to the two boys. He actually wrote two novellas, TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE and TOM SAWYER ABROAD. The former is the basis of this film, so more a little later. The latter was actually one of two literary works by Twain where he spoofed popular writers of his age he did not like. In A DOUBLE-BARRELLED DETECTIVE STORY he makes fun of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle (Twain disliked detective stories and made mincemeat of them in THE STOLEN WHITE ELEPHANT). In TOM SAWYER ABROAD he deals with a balloon voyage from America to Africa and the Middle East, and he is spoofing Jules Verne (complete with a mad aeronaut).

Twain also would try a western story (which was published in LIFE MAGAZINE back in the 1960s), TOM AND HUCK AMONG THE INDIANS. It was never finished. In the end of his life he had plans of taking the two boys to their last days, and having them die together. A Broadway play based on that idea was produced in the 1980s with George C. Scott and John Cullum.

The story of TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE is based on an actual crime story - but an ancient one from the late 17th Century. It involved Soren Quist, who was executed for murder in Veilby, Denmark, on circumstantial evidence. The story involves disguises and twins. Twain simply puts the story into the Mississippi Valley, involving Tom's Uncle Silas, who supposedly murders Jupiter Dunlap and is put on trial for his life. What the actual villains don't know is that Tom is aware of an alternative victim, and of a stranger who is not behaving as he should be. Tom is the dominant figure in the story (and the film), with Huck as "Dr. Watson" in the case.

The film is rarely shown nowadays. The last time I saw it listed was about 1968. It was a fair example of a "B" feature, but had nothing outstanding going for it except an interest in movies based on Twain's works. Even though a young Donald O'Connor was Huck Finn, he did not really shine in it too much. Porter Hall did have some moments acting mysteriously, trying to bury a body at night. I also recall Billy Cook (as Tom) preening himself in the courtroom while confronting the villains on the witness stand. It was not a boring film, so I give it a "6" out of "10", but I would not move heaven and earth to try to see it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Tom Sawyer, Detective (1938) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: