More fictional than factual biography of Stephen Foster. Songwriter from Pittsburgh falls in love with the South, marries a Southern gal (Leeds), then is accused of sympathizing when the ... See full summary »
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More fictional than factual biography of Stephen Foster. Songwriter from Pittsburgh falls in love with the South, marries a Southern gal (Leeds), then is accused of sympathizing when the Civil War breaks out. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Proof that not every 1939 release was part of the Golden Age. It's the life and not-so-hard times of Stephen Foster (Don Ameche), who despite a heart condition and a taste for the drink manages to crank out hit after hit. This is the cliched sort of composer bio in which every key event turns out to be instant inspiration for a new ditty, and the moment an on-screen audience hears a new song it can immediately join in for a reprise and know all the words. Still, Al Jolson is sturdy as E.P. Christy, the Technicolor is ravishing, and there are several convincing recreations of minstrel show numbers...and that last fact is why you won't see this film around, no way.
It's just not P.C. to show all that blackface any more, let alone the condescending approach to black people. (When Foster has ripped off "Oh Susannah" from a slave work song but is stuck on the last line, Jeannie--she of the light brown hair fame--comments that she's grown up among black music, their simple culture..."Hmmm...Here's how I think the Negroes would end it." Bingo, smash hit.) "Swanee River" is no great shakes as a movie, but it's a shame that people can't see it because of cowardice.
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